Poker

sites have been comment-spamming tdaxp. Besides trying to get tdaxp readers to click on the links, these companies are trying to improve their search engine ratings. tdaxp is a pretty trusted site in Google, and if yahoo or other search engines see this site linking to online poker in comments, they will give those Texas Hold ‘Em as top results when people search for “gambling” or similar search terms.

So that’s why this post links to wikipedia articles on those subjects. Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia and is a valid reference source. So if someone searches for poker, texas hold ’em, or other phrases, they will get real encyclopedia entries on those subjects and not the sites of spam commentators.

I would go on about how this is an example of civil society, flat networks, and the ultimate is networking. But that’d be rambling.

Take that spammers!

Update: Now I got comment spam about Pacific Poker from Razor Dude. The war continues…

Update 2: Don’t forget Texas Holdem and Party Poker

Update 3: Between Lawyers wonders if poker spammers are like tomb raiders. If so, would that make tomb raiders swarmers?

Good Times in Nepal?

Nepal Ends Crisis Rule, but Bans Some Protests,” by Somini Sengupta, New York Times, 1 May 2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/01/international/asia/01nepal.html.

There’s good news in the otherwise gloomy collapse of Nepal… maybe

The king of Nepal announced the lifting of emergency rule in his Himalayan nation late on Friday, but left a host of unanswered questions about whether basic rights would be restored. On Saturday, meanwhile, the authorities announced a new ban on protests in parts of the capital, Katmandu.
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The announcement by King Gyanendra was not entirely a surprise: Shortly after seizing absolute power on Feb. 1, in what he called a bid to crush a Maoist insurgency in the countryside, the king told foreign diplomats that emergency rule would last no more than 100 days.

The implications of his announcement, however, were far from clear, particularly the fate of political dissidents in jail, curbs on news media freedoms and special powers awarded the military in the name of squelching the Maoist rebellion in the country. Perhaps more important, the king did not address what would be done to restore democratic rule. His handpicked deputies have governed the country since Feb. 1.

While the King’s end of parliamentary rule is troubling, the evil Maoists are far more worrisome. It is important that all nations of the world, but especially democracies like India, Britain, and the United States, support the people of Nepal against the Maoists.

Also unclear, but crucial for the king, was whether lifting emergency rule would prompt Nepal’s donors, chiefly its largest military backers, Britain, India and the United States, to resume supplying arms and ammunition. All three countries had effectively closed the tap since Feb. 1.

Having a DPRK-aligned Maoist Nepal would do no one good. Or having a DPRK-aligned Kingdom of Nepal. Nepal must be kept in the world system. Military aid is the most immediate way to help.

Saudis Oppose Religious Connectivity

Saudis arrest 40 Christians in raid on secret church,” Associated Press, 29 April 2005, http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/cst-nws-saudi29.html (from Democratic Underground).

Nothing surprising. Freedom, human rights, and connectivity have no place in the Saudis’ despotate of Arabia.

Forty foreign Christians, children included, were arrested for proselytizing when police raided a clandestine church in suburban Riyadh. Convictions could result in harsh prison sentences, followed by deportation.

And we should tolerate this state as an ally why?

Members of other religions generally are allowed to practice their beliefs within private homes but may not seek converts or hold organized religious gatherings.

Way to shrink the Gap. Killing (often literally) connectivity isn’t a recipe for success.

The Saudi’s aren’t friends to Shia Muslims in East Arabia, either.

No Careers for Americans (Flat Jobs, Steep Education)

‘What, Me Worry?’,” by Thomas Friedman, New York Times, 29 April 2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/29/opinion/29friedman.html (from Eschaton).

Friedman riffs on the “public schools are terrible” summit from early April.

One of America’s most important entrepreneurs recently gave a remarkable speech at a summit meeting of our nation’s governors. Bill Gates minced no words. “American high schools are obsolete,” he told the governors. “By obsolete, I don’t just mean that our high schools are broken, flawed and underfunded. … By obsolete, I mean that our high schools – even when they are working exactly as designed – cannot teach our kids what they need to know today.

“Training the work force of tomorrow with the high schools of today is like trying to teach kids about today’s computers on a 50-year-old mainframe. … Our high schools were designed 50 years ago to meet the needs of another age. Until we design them to meet the needs of the 21st century, we will keep limiting – even ruining – the lives of millions of Americans every year.”

Before noting political weakness before this threat, Tom summarizes

Let me translate Mr. Gates’s words: “If we don’t fix American education, I will not be able to hire your kids.” I consider that, well, kind of important.

Public Education is built to standardize American students. The fast are held back with the herd, the slow are glamorized for falling behind the herd, the herd itself just stumbles along. We need to do better. Larry Summers, President of Harvard and former Clinton Treasury Secretary, agrees

For the first time in our history, we are going to face competition from low-wage, high-human-capital communities, embedded within India, China and Asia,” President Lawrence Summers of Harvard told me. In order to thrive, “it will not be enough for us to just leave no child behind. We also have to make sure that many more young Americans can get as far ahead as their potential will take them. How we meet this challenge is what will define our nation’s political economy for the next several decades.”

Friedman’s closing words echo parts of other networkbased theories

Meeting this challenge requires a set of big ideas. If you want to grasp some of what is required, check out a smart new book by the strategists John Hagel III and John Seely Brown entitled “The Only Sustainable Edge.” They argue that comparative advantage today is moving faster than ever from structural factors, like natural resources, to how quickly a country builds its distinctive talents for innovation and entrepreneurship – the only sustainable edge.

India and China know they can’t just depend on low wages, so they are racing us to the top, not the bottom. Producing a comprehensive U.S. response – encompassing immigration, intellectual property law and educational policy – to focus on developing our talent in a flat world is a big idea worthy of a presidency. But it would also require Mr. Bush to do something he has never done: ask Americans to do something hard.

Friedman is arguing that flexible, individualized education is needed if a flexible, individualized world.

When Tom says the world is flat, he means that it uses peer-based networks like never before. Flexibility, not stability, is the watchword. There aren’t big industrial corporations with steady career ladders anymore. However, public education is steep, not flat. America’s secondary education system is like a parody of a Japanese conglomerate — sit down, shut up, and eventually you’ll be at the top with the other old people.

This must change.

Indescribably Beautiful Mock Tory Ad

The truth behind the spin?,” Channel 4 News, 25 April 2005, http://www.channel4.com/news/special-reports/special-reports-storypage.jsp?id=67 (from Ektopia).

Andrew Sullivan heard of these, but they aren’t official. Channel 4 created fake ads for the Labour, Conservative, and Liberal-Democrat parties.

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What’s That Tune reveals that the Tory soundtrack is “As You Fall” by Bent. The Labour and Lib-Dem ads are funny, but the Conservative choice is beautiful.

Postscript: Vote Labour.

Acorn Officially Censored (Congrats)

On a forced hiatus,” by Nitin Pai, The Acorn, 29 April 2005, http://opinion.paifamily.com/?p=1415.

Nitin’s The Acorn makes it big — big enough to be blocked by the foreign country the blogger is currently visiting

Some countries think this blog is important enough to be blocked! To his surprise, this blogger realised that The Acorn has been blocked in the country he is currently visiting.

That is quite surprising, especially because he feels that there is a lot that is to be admired about that country.

Normal posting will resume in the second week of May.

To quote Kiran, You know you’ve arrived when the government of a nation decides to block your blog!

Washington – Baghdad – Tehran

Iraqi MPs approve partial cabinet,” BBC News, 28 April 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4492457.stm (from Democratic Underground).

Remember this blog saying something about the Iraq-Iran alliance, and American efforts to create a Shia Gulf

MPs in Iraq have approved a new government by a large majority despite failure to agree on several top posts.

Among the names on the new list is Shia politician Ahmed Chalabi, a one-time US favourite who fell from grace.

Mr Chalabi will also take one of the deputy prime minister’s posts.

Chalabi is an Iranian agent and sometimes American agent. He is a Shia Iraqi patriot who knows his country benefits from connectivity with stronger powers. The Sunni Arab Nationalist offer disconnection and despair. Chalabi, Iran, and America offer Iraq a way congratulations.

Congratulations to the Iraqi people and to Minister Chalabi. It has been a long journey.

Update: Atrios, Martin Stabe, and BTC News completely miss the point.

Update 2: Juan Cole doesn’t mention an Iran angle, but adds some sensible thoughts

I wonder if this appointment was a sop to the more secular-leaning members of the United Iraqi Alliance, who must have been extremely alarmed that the fundamentalist Fadila Party was making a bid for petroleum minister. It should be remembered that in contemporary Iraq, as in Jacksonian America, cabinet posts are sources of patronage and wealth, since there is a sort of spoils system. Chalabi will place his Iraqi National Congress members throughout the ministry.

Hmmm… bribery side-payments as a method of control… hmmm…

The Economist: Vote Labour

There Is No Alternative (Alas),” The Economist, 28 April 2005, http://www.economist.com/printedition/displayStory.cfm?story_id=3910189&fsrc=RSS.

Agreeing with me and Tom Friedman, The Economist endorses Tony Blair for the 05/05/05 British general election.

Most elections are won or lost on the economy, wealth and jobs. In that case Labour should be further ahead even than it is. Britain has enjoyed 13 years of uninterrupted, pretty steady economic growth, eight of them under this Labour government. Much of the credit due to Labour is for carrying on with the pro-market inheritance from Margaret Thatcher, but Gordon Brown, Labour’s chancellor, also deserves praise for having given independent control over monetary policy to the Bank of England in 1997 and for keeping both public spending and taxes under control in his early years in office. For that reason, voters may feel calm about the likelihood that Mr Brown will succeed Mr Blair as prime minister at some stage during the next four years. He is unlikely to change his economic ideas just because he moves his office to 10 Downing Street.

As Tony Blair’s Labour government leads Britain forward, the Tory Party hypocritically falls apart

As the The basic background to this election is that Mr Blair has continued to hog the centre-right ground in British politics, as he has done ever since becoming Labour’s leader in 1994. Michael Howard, the Conservative Party’s leader since 2003, has sought to share some of that ground, at least on the NHS. But he has blurred his party’s own identity by failing to offer a tax-cutting alternative and by his appallingly hypocritical opposition to Mr Blair’s brave effort to ease universities’ financial problems by allowing them to charge fees to British students—a reform that could have been taken from a Thatcherite textbook. Hence Mr Howard’s resort to traditional Tory populism on immigration in order to make his party look distinctive. To The Economist’s taste, this is a terrible move: we favour fluid migration, both on grounds of liberty and for practical economic reasons. The Tories instead favour illiberal limits and a labour-allocation system that smacks of central planning.

Tony Blair isn’t a perfect leader, but he’s far better than the Liberal Democrat (left) or Conservative (incoherent) alternatives. Vote Labour.

Our Friend Vietnam

Vietnam’s end of war celebrations to be muted,” Reuters, 28 April 2005, http://www.swissinfo.org/sen/swissinfo.html?siteSect=143&sid=5729787&cKey=1114674631000 (from DU).

America Lost, Capitalism Won,” The Economist, 28 April 2005, http://www.economist.com/printedition/displayStory.cfm?story_id=3914886.

Vietnamese tourguards don’t care much about the “American War”

On the steps of the Reunification Palace in Ho Chi Minh City, a guide recounts the final, dramatic moments of the Vietnam war. On the morning of April 30th 1975, two tanks of the “liberation forces” crashed through the gates of what was then the presidential palace of South Vietnam, in what was then Saigon. One of the tank commanders raced to the roof to tear down the flag of the American-backed regime and raise a communist banner in its stead, symbolically reuniting the two halves of the country and putting an end to 30 years of conflict.

The guide himself, however, does not seem very stirred by this story. He tells it only halfway through his tour, as one of a number of historical anecdotes. Like most Vietnamese, he was born after the war, so feels little personal connection to the events he recounts. He is from the north, he says, but has come to the south to improve his English and find a good job. From the rooftop, he gazes not at the famous tanks enshrined in the grounds below, but at the high-rises sprouting from the city’s skyline, emblazoned with American brand names such as Citibank and Sheraton.

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Communist Architecture

Hanoi agrees

Vietnam commemorates 30 years since “The American War” ended on Saturday, no longer simply exulting in the victory but instead urging people to look to the future.

Concerned that too visible a show of triumph could harm ties with the United States, the celebrations have been toned down compared with previous years.

The government’s talking of more market-based reforms

“The way we have been commemorating these historical dates is getting repetitive and overdosing on them may have a counter-effect,” he wrote.

We have to push ahead with reforms and stay away from self-satisfaction and the disease of talking too much about our achievements,” said Kiet, prime minister in the mid-1990’s.

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Skyline of Capitalist Saigon, see also the Samsung Billboard

While the people just make money

Little trace remains of any hostility towards America—just one, after all, of the many countries Vietnam fought during the past century. It went to war more recently (in 1979) with China, a perennial enemy over the last millennium, and the authorities still seem more suspicious of their northern neighbours and fellow communists than of anyone else. America and Vietnam restored diplomatic ties in 1995, and signed a trade pact in 2000. America is now Vietnam’s largest export market. Disputes between the two countries hinge more on tariffs and market access than on war crimes or missing soldiers.

Last year, United Airlines resumed flights to Ho Chi Minh City—which still bears the code SGN. A pilot who was lionised during the war for bombing the presidential palace in Saigon is now looking forward to captaining Vietnam Airlines’ first commercial flight to America—on one of the firm’s ten Boeing jets. Last month, Ho Chi Minh City received an American naval vessel for the second time in as many years. Locals scarcely batted an eyelid at the sight of uniformed American sailors wandering the streets.

The South is benefiting most from Hanoi’s liberalization, because of its connections with the United States and its history of free-market economics

The war exacerbated these differences. For one thing, the south suffered less from American bombing, leaving it with better infrastructure. What is more, northerners have lived under a communist regime since 1954, whereas southerners have much more recent experience of capitalism. The flight of well-to-do southerners in the face of the communist advance in 1975, and the subsequent exodus of boat people, has left the south with a bigger diaspora. These links to viet kieu, or overseas Vietnamese, give the south a more cosmopolitan outlook, and provide southern businessmen with capital and ideas.

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Stylish Vietnamese Capitalists

Saigon is a huge part of the boom

Ho Chi Minh City alone accounts for 17% of national output, 30% of foreign investment and 40% of exports—far in excess of its 9% share of the population. Local income per head is roughly four times the national average. Throw in the four adjacent provinces, and the share of output rises to 40%, and of exports to 70%.

Ho Chi Minh City, for example, has refurbished a beautiful colonial building as an investment-promotion office. English-speaking officials enumerate the city’s many advantages with the help of PowerPoint displays and glossy brochures. The city government, explains one, can process applications for various business permits online. It is also starting up an “e-discussion” scheme to answer investors’ queries, in both English and Vietnamese.

America’s post-1972 betrayal of South Vietnam is shameful. Suspending military aid to the Republic of Vietnam was the worst action of the U.S. Congress in history, and the moment of Democrat Party bankruptcy. But this tragedy of the past does not change the present.

Vietnam is rapidly becoming a Thailand-class ally of the United States. Like America, Vietnam has strong interests in containing China and growing the world econony. That is why our ships are visiting her ports, and that is why Hanoi is the capital of America’s friend, Vietnam.

Barnett and Vader Criticize NCW Arrogance

The Seven Deadly Sins of Network-Centric Warfare,” by Thomas P.M. Barnett, Proceedings, pg 36-39, January 1999, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/published/7d.htm.

It’s Christmas on Hoth,” by Darth Vader, The Darth Side, 27 April 2005, http://darthside.blogspot.com/2005/04/its-christmas-on-hoth.html (from Slashdot).

Net-Centric Warfare is an attempt to use technology to win “conventional” (maneuver-based or Third Generation) wars more easily. It is often criticized by proponents of Fourth Generation Warfare, though both NCW and 4GW are partially right. Nonetheless, it is important to realize that NCW is not perfect. Grand Strategist Tom Barnett lists the following as the “seven deadly sins” of NCW

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Dr. Barnett, whose mentor founded NCW,
criticizes the doctrine’s arrogance
  1. Lust -NCW Longs for an Enemy Worthy of Its Technological Prowess
  2. Sloth -NCW Slows the U.S. Military’s Adaptation to a MOOTW World
  3. Avarice -NCW Favors the Many and Cheap; the U.S. Military Prefers the Few and Costly
  4. Pride -NCW’s Lock-Out Strategies Resurrect Old Myths about Strategic Bombing
  5. Anger -NCW’s Speed-of-Command Philosophy Can Push Us into Shooting First and Asking Questions Later
  6. Envy – NCW Covets the Business World’s Self-Synchronization
  7. Gluttony – NCW’s Common Operating Picture Could Lead to Information Overload

The full article is available here.

More succinctly, Barnett’s thoughts are seconded by Darth Vader, dread lord of the Galactic Empire in his new blog, The Darth Side

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Lord Vader Criticizes Admiral Ozzol For NCW Arrogance

Admiral Ozzol took the fleet out of hyerspace too close to Hoth, and the Rebel Alliance were — you guessed it — alerted to our approach. The cornerstone of Ozzel’s arrogance is his insistence that rebel technology is so vastly inferior to Imperial technology that we need broker no caution.

This attitude is typical of a man who could not rephase his own fusion orb if his life depended on it. He cannot fathom what rebel engineers may accomplish out of desperation. People who are good with things, people like me, can appreciate the infinite diversity of possible tools buried in artful combinations of even the humblest technologies. Give me an hour to reconfigure an industrial grade repulsolift and I will give you an ion cannon and enough parts left over to build a droid to run it.

Besides running a hyper-advanced NCW space fleet, Darth Vader is proving himself to be an adept Fourth Generation Warrior. With the full might of the Galatic Empire behind him, his only problem is finding an heir to continue his House down the generations.

Update: Zen Pundit compares Barnett’s criticisms with Cebrowski’s original.