[joho] JOHO - February 11, 2002

  • From: "David Weinberger" <self@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <joho@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2002 10:06:16 -0500

Journal of the
Hyperlinked Organization=20
February 11, 2002
Editor: David Weinberger (self@xxxxxxxxxxx)
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For the fully glorious illustrated and
hyperlink-saturated online version of JOHO, please
To view this issue correctly, please use a
monospaced font such as Courier and stretch your
window until it all makes sense.=20

| CONTENTS                                         |
|                                                  |
| CRACKING WORDS: As Michel Foucault shows that    |
| the Greek word for "free speech" cracked under   |
| social pressure, some of our most common words   |
| are also showing the strain.                     |
|                                                  |
| FREE THE BROADBAND: TechNet's call for           |
| universal broadband access should be heeded.     |
|                                                  |
| a phase, a plan, Panama.                         |
|                                                  |
| THE NEW ROYALTY: Many may share a last name but  |
| only one gets the domain - and thus did WW III   |
| begin.                                           |
|                                                  |
| ANALS OF MARKETING: Some stuff that's so dumb    |
| you wouldn't believe it.                         |
|                                                  |
| WALKING THE WALK: E-learning from IBM and        |
| Microsoft.                                       |
|                                                  |
| COOL TOOL: Nostromo for your lefthanded gaming   |
| pleasure.                                        |
|                                                  |
| LINKS: From you. Excellent as always.            |
|                                                  |
| expostulations.                                  |
|                                                  |
| BOGUS CONTEST: Artists' Conceptions              |
| SMALL PIECES' NEW HOME                           |
|                                                  |
| I've updated the home page of my new book,       |
| Small Pieces Loosely Joined. What a pain in the  |
| tuchus, especially the part where I had to       |
| manually correct my electronic versions of the   |
| sample chapters using the printout of the        |
| (almost) final version because the printing      |
| house now possesses the final final electronic   |
| version. (The way the process bounces back and   |
| forth between electrons and paper will someday   |
| seem quite amusing.)                             |
|                                                  |
| Anyway, the page isn't done yet, but you can     |
| read the blurbs, the flap copy, and 2.5 sample   |
| chapters. Basta! (For now, anyway.)              |
| http://www.smallpieces.com                       |
| JOHO the Blog                                    |
|                                                  |
| I write in my damn weblog every freaking day.    |
| Most of what's in JOHO these days showed up      |
| first there. In fact, JOHO is beginning to feel  |
| redundant. Check out the blog. Let me know what  |
| you think. Please?                               |
|                                                  |
| http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger                  |
| DISKLESSNESS                                     |
|                                                  |
| My 9-month-old 60G hard drive melted -- more     |
| or less literally -- a few days ago. The major   |
| loss other than 2.5 days rebuilding the sucker,  |
| was the previous 5 months of email. So, if I'm   |
| ignoring your heartfelt missive, it's nothing    |
| personal.                                        |


I was browsing in the book store -- the local,
physical store, you know, the one that has a smell
-- when I randomly opened a book by Michel Foucault
and saw that it was about the Greek word
"parrhesia," which he translates as "fearless
speech" (the title of the book). The next book I
picked up was by Thomas Merton, and guess what word
was on the first page I turned to: "the." But also
"parrhesia." So, I bought the Foucault book.=20

It's more understandable than much of his more
formal writing, perhaps because it transcribes six
lectures. Foucault immerses us in Greek culture,
using a change in the meaning of "parrhesia" to show
shifts in the contexts in which the word was
important. It moved from meaning the speech of a
citizen that fearlessly "tells it like it is" to an
authority, to a sometimes negative term for rabble-
rousing. Foucault wonders how this change could have
happened. It's as if a crack opened up in the word.
For example, originally there simply was no question
about how the truth-teller knows the truth. But in
the 5th-4th centuries BCE, the question of the
justification of belief was indeed beginning to
arise. Likewise, Foucault looks at how the socio-
political situation had changed so that parrhesia no
longer was a simple virtue. He's brilliant at his
exploration of the context within which this word
had sense. This is a bit like a shift in a
scientific paradigm, except the old paradigm isn't
abandoned because of the accretion of anomalies that
it cannot explain. Rather, a densely human context
alters and a concept that made sense becomes
problematic. The bits of the old context that no
longer make that much sense provide clues to the
larger tectonic movements of thought.=20

So, what are the concepts today that no longer make
as much sense as they once did?

   Friendship. What do we call the people we meet on
   the Net? I recently had three days of intense email
   exchanges with a person who'd seen my weblog. We
   were emailing back and forth several times a day. It
   started out on an intellectual topic but became much
   more personal. Now the exchange has died its natural
   death, but it may begin again at any time. I expect
   I'll be in intermittent contact with him for the
   rest of my life. Is he my friend? There's a crack in
   the term.

   Privacy. This made perfect sense when we had a self
   associated with a physical body in the physical
   world, for in the real world, we can think of
   ourselves as having an inner and an outer self. But
   on the Web, all we have is an outer self. We exist
   on the Web only insofar as we make ourselves public.
   Privacy is cracked.

   Politeness. In a global environment where the
   trappings of culture are largely stripped out by the
   transition to text, what are the rules for
   politeness? Most of politeness is conventional. But
   there are no truly global conventions. The part of
   politeness that is caused by genuine consideration
   for others will, we hope, survive the Web, but
   that's so abstract that it's possible that there
   will be no way to conventionalize it for all
   cultures. In any case, politeness is cracked.

   Sincerity. When you can have as many personae on the
   Net as you want, when the atmosphere is ripe for
   playing and spoofing and posing, sincerity loses
   much of its obvious value, just as it already does
   for authors and actors. Was Nabokov being "sincere"
   when he wrote Lolita in the first person? Not in the
   usual sense, for Nabokov wasn't a murderous
   pederast. When applied to our Web personae - in some
   circumstances - sincerity is cracked.

Not all of this is Web-related. For example,
"courage" in an age of high-altitude bombing no
longer means what it used to. Maybe "civilian"
doesn't either. But a whole bunch of these terms
spring out of the Net. That may be the biggest clue
that important, and potentially scary, changes are
afoot. Here's the question that excites me so much:
Are we in an time that could rival the golden age of
Athens in its capacity for reinventing ourselves? Or
am I just cracked?

[Note: The Foucault book is available online:


TechNet, a consortium of industry CEO's, has issued
a call for a national (US) initiative to get
broadband to every household. The main thing the
government has to do is get out of the way:

   Government policies should foster innovation and
   reduce regulations -- especially with respect to
   broadband applications and services;

   Public policy should encourage new investment in
   broadband infrastructure and networks through
   competition and the removal of regulatory
   uncertainty and disincentives;

   State and localities should promote streamlined laws
   and regulations that encourage broadband investment,
   and interstate consistency should be achieved
   whenever possible;

   National spectrum policy should utilize market-based
   approaches that reduce the artificial scarcity of
   spectrum for valuable broadband applications;

   Investment incentives, potentially including
   targeted tax incentives, should encourage broadband
   deployment to underserved communities and

   Broadband policy should encourage innovation and
   government should not pick technology winners and

You can read the call here:=20

The members of TechNet come from Cisco, Genuity, HP,
Micrsofot, 3Com, etc., so, yes, they're self-
interested. But they're still right.

In fact, David Isenberg and I wrote a rough draft of
a similar call (at http://www.NetParadox.com), based on
Roxanne Googin's insightful paradox:

   The best network is the hardest one=20
        to make money running.

Here's what makes a network the best:

   ...the best network delivers bits in the largest
   volumes at the fastest speeds. In addition, the best
   network is the most open to new communications
   services; it closes off the fewest futures and
   elicits the most innovation.

That is, the best network is the stupidest network.
("The Rise of the Stupid Network"
(http://isen.com/stupid.html) is Isenberg's seminal
formulation of this, the precursor of which was the
End-to-End idea from David Reed et al.) The Internet
succeeded because it was deliberately built to
encode only the minimal information required to move
bits from point A to B. There is nothing in the
Internet protocols themselves that encodes what type
of bits they are. The Internet doesn't know or care
whether you're sending email or video, a bill or
pornography, copyrighted material or instructions on
building nuclear weapons. It also doesn't include
bits that say what person owns, sent or cares about
the bits. It is nothing but a bit pump. It's a
stupid network.

Because it's so good at moving bits, and because the
Net makes no assumptions about the nature of those
bits, applications can be written on top of it to do
whatever you want with bits. Attempts to make the
Internet smarter -- for example, by including in the transportation
protocol itself information about the copyright status of the bits --
will bit by bit erode the Internet as a medium for innovation.

An AP article by Brian Bergstein quotes Forrester
Research analyst Carl Howe:

   "There is no proof, in any way, shape or manner,
   that says if we give more broadband to everybody
   it's going to make us more productive," he said.
   "It will make us more connected. It might make
   us happier. But I'm not sure it's a better use of
   our money than putting 50,000 more teachers in

First, this isn't an either/or. Second, the
broadband project is likely to cost less than a
single year of paying 50,000 teachers a salary
(figuring an optimistic average salary of $50K).
Third, the aim is to enable the market to find ways
to provide broadband profitably, with the government
supplying incentives only where the market doesn't.

More important, no, there's no proof it'll make us
more productive. But there's every reason to believe
that high speed connectivity will bring forth
innovations we haven't begun to imagine. If we give
everyone instantaneous access to all of the
digitized works of humans and instantaneous, high
quality access to the global conversation, we will
change everything from broadcast TV to how we play
music together to how gossip works. So, it may not
make us more productive (although it probably will),
but it certainly will make us more inventive, more
creative, more inquisitive, more connective, more

The obstacles are artificial. We need to clear them
out of the way. This is a legitimate role for
government. Let's do it because we don't know what
will result.


The year is 2090. It's 60 years since Arnold
Schwarzenegger cinched his support belt one notch
tighter, added 50 pounds to the barbell, pushed up
... and exploded, spewing steroids, formaldehyde,
and Viagra all over the Hollywood Gym. His site, www.schwarzenegger.com,
has been maintained by his estate ever since. There hasn't been any new
content added since the year 2047 and it's now mainly consulted by
historians studying Arnhold's role in the Richard Simmons presidency.
But now Arnold's estranged great-granddaughter has filed suit with 65
other of Arnold's descendants who feel they have a legitimate claim on
schwarzenegger.com. The movement spreads among the progeny of other
first generation web site name grabbers. "No Dots for the Dead!" becomes
an international rallying cry. Their opponents begin to sport
bumperstickers that say "Sure you can have my dot-com name...when you
pry it from my cold dead fingers" on their levitating personal scooters
... because, um, Flubber turned out to be real.

I'm facing a version of this problem right now. I
own www.weinberger.org. (Weinberger.com was taken by
a company that mass-registers surnames.) There are
lots of other Weinbergers in the world - If I use
Google to look for myself, I find a rabbi in Israel,
a car dealer in California, and a kid who writes
record reviews, all on the first page of the
results. So, as the sole owner of weinberger.org,
when I'm dead and gone, which of my kids should I
leave the Weinberger family org to, assuming I agree
to be an "org donor"? And which of their kids, lo
unto the many generations will inherit ... and which
ones will be frozen out? And how about the poor car
dealer's kids who'll never have a chance at
inheriting their-name.org?

This question has been resolved in a hardheaded way
in the business world. American Airlines owns
aa.com, but everyone from Alcoholics Anonymous to
Aukland Adventures would probably like to own it.
The victory goes to the person who applied earliest
or can afford to buy it from the person who did ...
with trademark-owners trumping everyone. So what do
the losers do? They register a lame variant such as "aa-Aukland.com" or
"alcoholics-anonymous.org" that you might guess at after five wrong

And adding new extensions besides .com and .org and
the others, as has been done, doesn't really help
matters. The fact is that there are lots more people
than meaningful web site names, and it's only going
to get worse as the generations increase.

So, the vast majority of us are going to be frozen
out. You'll locate sites by looking up our name on
some web directory, which is how we already do it
with Google. On the other hand, those of us who
grabbed our names early are going to the new
royalty. "Hello, I'm David Weinberger, of the .org weinbergers." Ah,
it's gonna be sweet.


Those of your following my weblog know that there
were a couple of weeks when I was blogging
excessively about "Googlewhacking," a game invented
by Gary "Unblinking" Stock. A googlewhack is a pair
of words that when searched for on Google (not as a
phrase) returns one and only one hit. I codified
the rules and adopted Kevin Marks' idea for
scoring: multiply the number of hits of each of the
words searched for individually, so that pairs of
common words score higher than obscure ones. The
current record holder is Acme with a score of
2,253,800,000,000 for "depreciation lolitas".

But Gary is uncomfortable with 'whacking as a
competitive sport, preferring the semantically
amusing combos. As googlewhacking took off, with
Gary showing up on everything from the BBC to NPR,
I've backed off. If someone beats the high score,
I'll probably note it on my blog, but otherwise:
This is Gary's baby. You go, Gary!
Gary's site:                                    =20
http://www.unblinking.com/heh/googlewhack.htm   =20
For automatic scoring:                          =20


When a program crashes under XP, you have the option
of pressing a button that sends a diagnostic report
to Redmond. XP then tantalizes you with the prospect
of being told when Microsoft has a fix for the
problem. To receive this vital information, however,
you are required to sign up for Passport (Tagline:
"We called it 'Passport' because we're saving
'Stranglehold' for our next product").

Getting fixes for crash bugs is not a discretionary
service. The Department of Justice (Tagline: "It's
called 'Justice' to prove we have a sense of humor")
ought to pay attention to this.

James Smith or Laura Iveson (damn shared email!)
sent me a photo of New Orleans' coroner engaged in
an unnatural (but not disgusting) act. You can see
it on my website.

Dahrl Stultz replied when I ran it in my weblog:

   I laughed at the trumpet man coroner pic. Out of
   curiosity, I went to Goggle and quickly found he's
   New Orlean's ME. This article about him being
   accused of selling body parts caused me to shake my
   head and mutter, "typical Louisiana politician."

From Peter "peterme" Merholz (http://www.peterme.com/)=20
comes a pointer to a small software company that
hasn't gotten so successful that it's lost its sense
of humor. Here are the Omni Group's software
licenses for three of its products:

   2. OmniWeb 4 for Mac OS X can be used for free,
   but occasionally you might get little flashes of
   guilt while you use it. If this overwhelms you,
   why not buy a license at our web store?

   3. Once you've used OmniGraffle for a while, we
   bet you'll want to edit documents with more than
   twenty items, and then you can buy a license to
   fully enable the app, and help get us that much
   closer to being _feelthy steenking rich_. Well,
   OK, maybe not rich, but successful enough to
   write some more apps you'll love. And, hey, right
   now Graffle's about half the cost of some other
   visualization tools. Also, we're a small company,
   like those juice guys, so when you buy an app
   from us it gives you a warm fuzzy feeling in your
   tummy, like if you ate some sweaters.


It doesn't take much to make us like a merchant. The
slightest show of humanity seems to be enough.


RageBoy's 'zine, EGR (http://www.rageboy.com/index2.html),=20
while touting his marvelous new book The Bombast
Transcripts (on which more later), somehow manages
to point us at a shrine site devoted to Beaner, a
dead dog:
After poking around for a while -- future
anthropologists are going to have to re-evaluate our
culture when they unearth this site -- I found a
related site for Ollie who has joined his dear
friend Beaner chewing couch legs in the sky. Ollie's
human life companions provide links to let us sign a
site guestbook where we can record our thoughts of
consolation and sympathy, preferably in all caps to
vouchsafe our sincerity: "VERY INSPIRATIONAL FOR ALL
LOVERS OF WEINIES". The very last message reads in
its entirety:

   Great site. Just surfed in. Visit our discount
   vacation site @ www.magicrates.com

Yes, this person has spammed a dead dog's mourners'

Mini Bogus Contest: Find a spammer lower on the



      IBM and Microsoft are picking up the e-
      learning tab for their employees, according to
      an article in InformationWeek (Jan. 28,
      Elizabeth Goodridge). IBM employees can earn
      advanced degrees at the U. of Texas in Austin
      while Microsofties can work towards a master's
      degree in software and harware (can you really
      get a master's degree in software or
      hardware?) at Oregon Health and Science
      University's School of Science and Engineering
      (which before the interdepartmental leveraged
      buyout was the Oregon Science and Technology
      University's School of Health and Science).
      About a score of employees from each company
      are involved in the pilot programs. GM and
      Intel offer similar programs.

      The article notes that "The programs will be
      supplemented with content that focuses on
      specific company technologies," provoking a
      flurry of masters theses on how to use
      autonumbering in Microsoft Word.


      This arguably isn't a business tool but ...

      ...If you play computer games that require you
      to navigate a complex map and manipulate
      objects through keyboard commands - OK, if
      you're running around shooting aliens or Nazis
      - you should get yourself a Belkin Nostromo
      thingy. It's a 10-key keypad that plugs into a
      USB port. You assign each of the keys a
      keyboard command and place the unit convenient
      to your left hand. Typically, the center top
      key will be your UpArrow key so you now can
      steer with your mouse with your right hand and
      move forward with your left. But, now all the
      other keys you need are literally at your left
      hand's fingertips. Maybe Pointer will reload
      and RingFinger will zoom the telescopic sight,
      and Pinky will cry "Weee Weee!" as it frags a
      dork with a racist name.

      This is by far the best piece of hardware for
      computer gaming since the Save and Reload keys
      were invented.


Chris Worth points us to a funny review at Amazon
of the complete works of Mozart.

[Unwrap the URL!]

Norman Jensen thinks that in light of my postings
about the universality of truth=20
we might be interested in an article that pits
Nietzsche against Steven Covey ("7 Habits of Highly
Annoying People"). The article's author, Christopher
Jenson, provides a useful explanation of Nietzsche's
aphoristic expressions. This is Nietzsche at his
best, "arguing" by painting a new picture. In this
case, his beef is with Kant and Plato (and Covey ...
putting him in rather exalted company) and others
who postulate a real world that is both only
indirectly knowable at best and supposedly the locus
of all real value.


Gary Turner continues his collection of weblog
bumperstickers at http://www.blogstickers.com. I
like "My other blog is a newspaper column" and "A
legend in his own blog." But there are now over 900
of 'em on his site. Plus the site will generate your
own contributions. And you can even buy blogsticker merchandise.
Won't someone please make Gary a marketing VP
somewhere? Stop him before he blogs more! (Damn,
another blogsticker!) (PS: Gary insists that I made
up the term "blogsticker.")

Hank Blakely has a "new home for the disgruntled"
where you'll find his continuing, sure-footed and
very funny satire of W:


He's added a page of favorite sites where I am
honored to find my newsletter in company with the
Betty Bowers site who is, as you know, "America's
Best Christian":


Peter "peterme" Merholz, noticing a blogthread
between me and Jonathan Peters, in an email points
to a rich thread of comments on his site about
whether it makes sense to think about the Web (and
other "information spaces") as spaces at all. What a
bunch of smart people! He suggests starting with the
"Stewart's Chagrin" comment. (Peter also linked to
my upcoming book's discussion of the Web as a place,
which generated some good discussion too ... citing
sources I didn't know about when I wrote the book.

Stewart's Chagrin: http://peterme.com/archives/00000091.html#10

Halley Suitt has started blogging: http://halleyscomment.blogspot.com/.
When I was writing my book online, posting each day's crappy draft,
Halley was the most important critic and booster of what I was writing.
She's got a keen eye and she don't take no guff. Great blog.

Jacob Shwirtz, creator of the truly odd, upload orgy www.Gazm.org, has
started a blog cleverly named Fuzzy Blogic
He also points us to:

   http://www.kevinkelly.net/ a pretty funny, slightly
   useful website for everyone in the world named Kevin

Tom Gross thinks we might like
http://www.playdamage.org where new- agey music
plays as a moderately static lightshow plays. He
says Playdamage reminds him of
http://www.superbad.com, a site of that seems more
involving (or, as we used to say, "bong-able").

Tom also points us to a page at the Playdamage site
where there is a "Market-o-Matic" tool that
constructs marketing bafflegab based on your
selections of nouns, verbs, etc. Very MadLibs.


Julian Harley points to
http://www.friendsreunited.com, a site that's
apparently a big hit in the UK. You tell it which
schools you went to with any comments about your
life since being paddled by the senior boys, and
then you can see which of your chums have also
registered. Unfortunately, you have to register to
be able to search for pals. If you do, you'll be
able to see notes from your pals.

I then came across www.Classmates.com, a site that does something
similar for those clever enough to have been born in the US. But the
real hook is the large album of celebrity high school photos on their
site. I don't hide the fact that I enjoy celebrity gossip (well, except
in the sense that I never admit it, deny it when asked, and claim that
the copy of The National Star is for my teenage daughter), and this is a
good site to feed that particular jones. Here you'll learn that

   Ronald Reagan and Mr. Rogers have never ever
   changed their hair styles

   Fidel Castro wasn't born with a beard

   Katy Couric was always perky

   The guy who played Screech on Save by the Bell
   can see his future face foreshadowed in the young
   Lyle Lovett

   Frank Zappa looks out of place in his mortarboard

   Elvis was even more Elvisy in high school

As far as my own high school photo goes: you
shouldn't ask.

There's an interesting article in the WSJ about The
Jewish World Review. The JWR publishes from the
point of view of a socially-aware orthodox Jew. As a
result, it tends to range from conservative to neo- conservative. But,
since I'm not a religious Jew or conservative or neo-conservative and
yet the JWR occasionally publishes my stuff, I admire the editor's
(Binyamin Jolkovsky) open-mindedness (as well as his orthodoxy). This is
a one-person enterprise that deserves to survive, but is struggling
right now.


David Isenberg points us to a map of Scott McNealy's
virtual Rolodex.. This is an interesting way to map
a social network ... or the circles of Hell.


Strata Rose Chalup passes along a site that lets you
search through a large body of AOL Instant Messaging transcripts that
were recently made public. You should search for your name immediately
to see if any of your sessions were logged.


[Note: Before you panic, please search again for a
different name. Draw the proper conclusion. This is
important. There really is no need to panic.]

Dan Gillmor breaks the news that Google has done it
again. It now has a site that indexes several news
sources in real time, aggregating the top stories.


Gary Unblinking Stock points us to a collection of
dreams about 9-11. They range from the eerie to the
funny to the possibly phony.


Bob Filipczak passes along a link to an interview
with Jonah Peretti, the guy who tried to get his
Nike sneakers personalized (as per Nike's offer)
with the phrase "Sweatshop." He then publicized the
resulting email exchange with Nike in which Nike
was, shall we say, less than enlightened. Now
Peretti has started The Rejection Line, a phone
service that handles all of your rejection needs.


Mike O'Dell sends us to http://www.ditherati.com
where we can read quotes from digital gurus saying
stupid things, at least out of context.

Mark Dionne writes about a site he found when
looking for help with installing a car radio:


   I was amazed how this incredibly professional
   site can stay in business. There must be some
   lesson here you can learn from.

They solicit ads but there aren't any on the site. I
find this worrying. I've mailed them a message about
this. So far, no response. It's a great site,

Gilbert Cattoire points us to
http://fusionanomaly.net, more or less a blind
dating service for memes.

David Wolfe, Marketing Guru, has written an
excellent piece about why customers are so damn
weird these days. I've posted it at

There's a discussion on an open discussion board
supported by Tivo about whether having such a forum
is useful to Tivo even though people air every
conceivable (and some inconceivable) gripe. Tivo's
answer: Absolutely.


Full disclosure: I am a deliriously happy Tivo user.
Everyone who watches TV should get Tivo the


Ed Yourdon's weblog has an excellent, provocative
entry about the implications of the fact that the
only one of the four hijacked planes that didn't
accomplish its mission was the one in which there
was a spontaneous, self-organizing, bottom-up effort
to stop it: http://www.yourdon.com/Blog/2002_01_06_archive.html#8601001

Also, be on the watch for Ed's new book, Byte Wars,
available in mid-March.

W. David Stephenson writes on a related topic:

   ...thought you'd enjoy my opus in the Homeland
   Defense Journal on how we need "Internet thinking,"
   (empowering everyone, closing loops, and linking
   everything) as much as Internet technology to deal
   with this problem.

I received a forwarded message (thanks, Chip!) that
says that the judge in the Enron proceedings has a
serious conflict of interest that has perhaps
influenced her decision to hold off on freezing the
money Enron executives skimmed before the megacorp
flopped. I don't know anything about the apparent
author, Brenda Pitts Bennett, but she cites her
sources. You can read it on my weblog:

From Chip comes a link to a transcript of a CNN
piece (Paula Zahn interviewing Richard Butler, the
former UN weapons inspector) on a French book that
claims that, well, here's a portion of the
interview (there's more in the Web version):

   BUTLER: The most explosive charge, Paula, is that
   the Bush administration -- the present one, just
   shortly after assuming office slowed down FBI
   investigations of al Qaeda and terrorism in
   Afghanistan in order to do a deal with the
   Taliban on oil -- an oil pipeline across

   ZAHN: And this book points out that the FBI's
   deputy director, John O'Neill, actually resigned
   because he felt the U.S. administration was

   BUTLER: A proper...

   ZAHN: ... the prosecution of terrorism.

Chip also points us to www.truthout.com where I found an entertaining
column by Michael Kinsley resolving to end his post-9/11
self-censorship. (At least he doesn't say that if we censor ourselves,
we've let the terrorists win.)


Phi Jones sends us to a nicely done but predictable
child's eye view of W.


The constant Chip suggests we might enjoy these
"principles of popaganda," or at least the
introduction. (No, "popaganda" is not a typo.)


The fiery Charles Munat is quite exercised by what
he considers my naivete and sends me to
Covertaction.org for an education in our American
blindness to the reprehensible acts of our own
government. He was set off by my saying that
"Terrorism is a tactic adopted by people who can't
afford armies, so they fight real dirty" since that
excludes -- and, thus, he thinks I think, exculpates
-- big countries that deliberately target civilians,
as the US has done with disgusting frequency.

Charles also objects to my calling him "fiery"
because he feels it is dismissive. It's not intended
that way. His more important point, conveyed through
email, is that it is wrong to focus on the 9/11
terrorist attacks to the exclusion of our own
government's warfare against civilians, including
the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians who
have died because of our embargo.

He is right, of course, that I haven't condemned our
Iraqi policy in JOHO while I have talked about 9/11.
And, Charles' point is that the Iraqi embargo is
just one particularly egregious example of the use
of American power at the expense of civilians. Why
have I been silent? For the same reasons as everyone
else, some good and some bad. Most of the reasons
have to do with a sense of powerlessness. For

   Embargoes never work. Embargoes are a type of siege
   that target the weak and innocent. Embargoes are
   wrong, shameful and despicable. We should
   immediately end the Iraqi embargo. And the Cuban

Ok, I said what I think is true. Did it work? Was
that fiery or just sputtering?

Ultimately, Charles' point gets at the center of the
modern dilemma: How can we knowingly continue to
live in such an unjust world without doing
everything in our power to end the injustice? And I
don't know of any good answers to that question.
Charles is right to raise it. We are wrong to ignore
it. Discuss amongst yourselves ... and then
overthrow the existing social order.


Karl Fast is the first with the upgrade:

   In your piece about innovation and good ideas, the
   actual quote is:

     The best way to have a good idea is to have lots
     of ideas.

   --Linus Pauling

   Pauling was an American chemist and the winner of
   two Nobel prizes, the Chemistry Prize in 1954 and
   the Peace Prize in 1962.

   Biography of Linus Pauling

Thank you, Karl.

In response to my query about sites whose existence
reminds us of the real value of the Net, Vergil
Iliescu cites http://www.edge.org where (in Vergil's words) "you can
watch some of the famous names in science discuss a whole range of
issues." Vergil points out that, unfortunately, it is not much of an
interactive site. (Who would decline the opportunity to be guided by

Our piece about innovation reminded Mike O'Dell of
his early days as a geek and he tells us this story:

   ...it brings to mind a thing i built back when i was
   a lad in junior high. i had a piece of plywood with
   a collection of knife switches my father had scored
   from derelict stuff retired by the local electric
   company. several of them were single-pole-double-
   throw switches, like 3-way switches on lights. they
   make contact in both the up and down positions but
   with different circuits. anyway, i build a wire
   exploder with a large capacitor and a 350volt
   photoflash battery. a thin piece of aluminum foil
   was placed on two electrodes, and then a complex
   sequence of switching was performed which charged
   the capacitor, and then discharged it (abruptly)
   through the aluminum foil with some noise and a
   bright flash.

   you still with me???

   this was all done with great flourish, me reading
   the checklist of actions and my best friend throwing
   the switches. because of the particular wiring and
   the SPDT switch, the last step which produced the
   report from the vaporizing aluminum foil read:

   Switch 5b: Throw up to discharge!

   see - it's very funny, well, sorta. maybe you had to
   be there. maybe you had to be a teenage geek with
   nothing better to do than explode pieces of aluminum
   foil and read Doc Smith's "The Lensmen" series, but
   it seemed very cool at the time.

   oh well.

And oddly charming story. It confirms my suspicion
that the Internet was built by kids who liked to
blow things up. And the Internet is blowin' up much
of culture real good!

Michael Fredric disagrees with etiology in my oddly
charming story about bad customer support from RCN.

   I'm not sure you fairly attribute this problem to
   the "legal system" (whatever that is -- I haven't
   found their offices yet, so I don't know how they
   feel about it). Seriously, lawyers try to help
   clients understand subtleties and nuances all of
   the time, yet marketing managers and CSR
   supervisors (to paint with a broad brush)
   frequently don't want to hear about it. Gray is
   just too difficult to fit into a policy manual,
   and people can't be measured for their management
   by objective bonuses if the metric is shades of

   And yes, the lawyers can take some of the blame
   as well -- we, as a profession, must not give up
   on helping our clients to understand the
   importance of the subtleties, yet I suspect that
   oftentimes we give up and take the easy way out.
   I'm just trying to point out that lawyers are not
   the only ones contributing to this problem.

Since both my father and father-in-law were lawyers,
I usually avoid the cheap shots against lawyers.
(Hint: Want to avoid having me take cheap shots?
Adopt me.) A good lawyer will behave just as you
say, trying to understand the client's largest
interests. But it's also true that too often lesser
lawyers -- in my experience -- see their role as
counseling absolute risk avoidance.

I heard from Daniel Livingstone, whose page I
mentioned in June:

   Thanks for the mention. =A0 I'm the person with the
   webpage that chronicles the=A0building of the full
   size Lost in Space Robot. I wanted=A0to point out
   that you included a picture of, and referred to
   my robot as Robby the Robot.=A0 My Robot is in fact
   the Model B9 Robot, from Lost in Space.=A0 While
   both robots were designed by the same person,
   they are quite different. =A0 This is also an
   ongoing joke among B9 Robot Builders because most
   people=A0(well 90% any ways) think that the Lost in
   Space Robot=A0is Robby the Robot. =A0 Just setting
   things straight. =A0 I have since revamped the web
   page and it has a new URL:

The B9 isn't Robby? Next you'll tell me that
Fernando Llamas and Ricardo Montalban are different
people or that that adorable little girl on Full
House was actually played by twins! Hah!

By the way, if you want a good scare, go to the
Olsen Twin's homepage: http://www.olsentwins.com/.
World news, a story about Cameron Diaz making $20M
for the Charlie's Angels sequel, and periodic
letters that are what weblogs would be like if they
were written by our personal publicists. (Meanwhile,
the Olsen Twins Countdown to Legality Site is down
this month because, by February 10, it had already
exceeded its bandwidth limit. People are so sick.)

I believe it was Jack Vinson who sent me this,
although having lost 5 months of email, I can't
easily check. In any case, it refers to my noting
that Small Pieces had broken the 2 million mark at
Amazon. (Unfortunately, that refers to its ranking,
not to the number sold):

   Intrigued by your shamelessly self-promotional
   drum flogging, I checked out options for
   preordering "Small Pieces" at Amazon.com.=A0 I was
   disappointed to find that I couldn't review the
   book without actually reading it first.=A0 I was
   allowed, however, to rate it and gave it five
   stars, sight unseen.

   Searching for other books by "Weinberger" I found
   several with rankings rivaling Small Pieces:

   Practical Capillary Electrophoresis=A0 by Robert
   Weinberger, weighs in at 505,669

   Residential Oil Burners=A0by Herb Weinberger=A0, tips
   the scales at 538,881. And who could resist

   The Home Depot Big Book of Tools=A0by Kimberly
   Weinberger at 305,910?

   I recommend this trilogy of Weinbergers for their
   elegant and ultimately hopeful inquiry into the
   human condition itself.

Uncle Herb! We've found you at last! Come back
home! The house has felt so cold since you left!

(PS: Small Pieces has rocketed to #96,630 at
Amazon! Woohoo!)


Chris Worth points us to an illustration from a CNN
story, visible in the Web version of JOHO. In fact,
since this is a visual Bogus Contest, you'd better
hie on over to:



Stuart Hillston responds to our contest asking for
lines not to say to VC's when trying to impress

   I recently visited a software developer who started
   his presentation with:

   "What I am about to show you is the most significant
   step forward in the history of computing since the
   Van Neumann model of data." It wasn't."

And even if it were, how much VC money was that
dumbass Van Neumann guy able to raise, snort snort?


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  • » [joho] JOHO - February 11, 2002