Trackback Spam

Probably a hundred false “track backs” — a type of spam that hurts blogs — have been getting through my blog service provider’s (blogspirit’s) filters a day. This has been going on for a week.

What’s most annoying is blogspirit’s terrible (read: nonexistent) communication with its clients. What’s going on? Technical incompetence? An attempt at installing a new system? A shakedown by the internet mafia? What?

Blogspirit: Bad service, worse communication.

Some thoughts, minutes before sleep

When I was a kid, I was pretty sick. My body hurt a lot and I was not eating enough. On Saturday afternoons Mystery Science Theatre 3000 would come on. I would prepare for this sometimes my making cherry bars or something else high calories (and thus healthy), and lay on the couch with a blanket around me and watch the show. Sometimes, when I felt very tired I would wish that I could live in space with Mike and Servo and Crow and not be in pain. The show was such an escape.

I am so grateful for my family — my wife, my mother, my brother, my sister, &c — and so enjoy the work I do. But, like now, I am in the dark alone. I am in the dark, of course, because it is late and the lights are out, and alone except for my ipod mini. I listened to “Vito Ordination’s Song” by Sufjan Stevens and then the first track of (), by Sigur Ros. I would listen to Sigur Ros in the dark waiting room after company had gone and I waited for news on my father. Just now I only listened to one track. The rooms are too similar in the dark.

My family is a refuge and my work keeps my mind busy. Recently I took up my new favorite sport, badminton, and spend my free time either looking forward to the day’s matches or looking back at them with contented exhaustion.

But today I am traveling, so no badminton. I did chores and worked, mowed hte lawn and played PlayStation2 while on the treadmill, but no badminton wso the mind is more free.

I was listening to my ipod in the dark and saw the most recent episode of the Generally Speaking Lost podcast in the playlist. And I felt the same escape as with Mystery Science so many years ago.

A fun game to watch

Certainly the one point (41-40) victory over Ball State by our Nebraska Cornhuskers was not particularly confidence-boosting, but it certainly was a fun game to listen to on Huskers Radio Network. (The televised presentation was on pay-per-view, so instead of spending that money sitting on my couch it goes to gas for a trip to South Dakota and back.)

As the commentators announced, the game was a tennis match, in that both defenses melted and it was assumed that the office would score. The darkest moment was falling behind Ball State by 9 points, at which point I began muttering “Someone better be fired” — but we pulled a Wake Forest-style comeback, and escaped with something resembling dignity.

For 7 of the last 9 minutes of the game I was driving parallel to two different electricity lines, so my reception went to zero. But once I got off the highway I heard the last few seconds just fine — including their bizarre, 3rd down, 55 yard fake-fieldgoal. (That’s something I would pull on the Playstation 2!)

Struggles, both violent and political

There’s something a little ironic about a rally in support of what everyone believes are violent criminals themselves joyously breaking the law:

This:

Wave after wave of marchers walked a long hot mile to Jena High School. There, with only a handful of police to stop them, they swept past the school’s chain link fence and on to the school grounds.

and that:

But unlike the protests that became landmarks for civil rights when fire hoses and police dogs greeted demonstrators, the rally to support six black teenagers charged in a school fight had a festive yet laid-back air.

“It was a great day,” said Denise Broussard, of Lafayette, La. “I really felt a sense of purpose and commitment, but it was also a lot of fun. I met great people and made some good friends.”

The assault itself seems to be a case of honor violence, endemic among ex-confederate populations (both white and black). One wonders how much of the national attention is an attempt by Jessee Jackson’s southern clique to sink the candidacy to half-white Barack Obama who, whatever he is, is not Dixie.

Update: Shannon Love ads his thoughts.

Good and better ways to secure East Asia

Joacy, M. (2007). Giuliani Visit to London Aims to Bolster Credentials. Wall Street Journal. September 20, 2007.

My preference is to keep NATO as a keep-Russia-out-of-Europe club, and build up a Pacific NATO. Still, multilateralizing America’s security guarantee to the geostrategically chaotic states of the western Pacific (Japan, South Korea, North Korea, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, etc.) would not be a bad thing, and Giuliani’s calls to expand NATO into the Pacific are not foolish.

While Tom disagrees, this seems to be a case of the great (waiting for a Pacific Treaty Organization that includes all the western Pacific states) becoming the enemy of the good (providing east Asia’s first institutional security guarantee).

Blogs v. Forbes: Blogs win

Lyons, D. (2007). Snowed by SCO. Forbes.com. September 19, 2007. Available online: http://www.forbes.com/2007/09/19/software-linux-lawsuits-tech-oped-cx_dl_0919lyons_print.html (from Slashdot).

From the confession of error:

In the print edition of Forbes there’s a great (albeit sometimes painful) tradition of doing “follow-through” articles where a reporter either takes a victory lap for making a good call or falls on his sword for making a bad one. Online publications don’t typically ask for follow-throughs. But I need to write one.

For four years, I’ve been covering a lawsuit for Forbes.com, and my early predictions on this case have turned out to be so profoundly wrong that I am writing this mea culpa. What can I say? I grew up Roman Catholic. The habit stays with you.

The case is SCO Group v. IBM. In March 2003, SCO sued IBM claiming that IBM took code from Unix–for which SCO claimed to own copyrights–and put that code into Linux, which is distributed free. Last month a judge ruled that SCO does not, in fact, own the Unix copyrights. That blows SCO’s case against IBM out of the water. SCO, of Lindon, Utah, is seeking bankruptcy protection.

In June 2003, a few months after SCO Group sued IBM over the Linux operating system, I wrote an article that bore the headline: “What SCO Wants, SCO Gets.” The article contained some critical stuff about SCO but also warned that SCO stood a chance of winning the lawsuit. “SCO may not be very good at making a profit by selling software. … But it is very good at getting what it wants from other companies,” I wrote. …

I reported what they said. Turns out I was getting played. They never produced a smoking gun. They never sued any Hollywood company.

Over time my SCO articles began to carry headlines like, “Dumb and Dumber,” “Bumbling Bully” and “SCO gets TKO’d.”

But I still thought it would be foolish to predict how this lawsuit (or any lawsuit) would play out. I even wrote an article called “Revenge of the Nerds,” which poked fun at the pack of amateur sleuths who were following the case on a Web site called Groklaw and who claimed to know for sure that SCO was going to lose.

Turns out those amateur sleuths were right. Now some of them are writing to me asking how I’d like my crow cooked, and where I’d like it delivered.

For some reason, a lot of technology journalism has devoled into hit-piece journalism, like the recent factually untrue CNET review of Lotus Symphony. Forbes, seeing blood in the water, did the same, attacking both a respected global services provider (IBM) and bloggers following the case (GrowkLaw), helping the corporate scheisters of SCO spread fear, uncertainy, and doubt.

But IBM was right, the blogs were right, and SCO (and the mainstream media in Forbes) were wrong. Now Forbes admits it.

Good.

After an Iran War: China in, Russia out?

Two of the best reasons not spoken for a war with Iran are that it would bring in China and push out Russia.

The latter first: Iran has been transforming into a Russian client state, and this relationship is enormously profitable to Russia. By supporting the Islamic Republic, Moscow is able to distract Washington from more important goals throughout eastern Europe. The fate of the soft revolutions against authoritarianism and the expansion of Europe as far east as possible simple matter to us far more than does the particular fate of Iran, or even the Shia generally. As long as Moscow is able and willing to provide Iran cover, our important work in Ukraine, and Georgia, and beyond that in Belarus and Kazakhstan, is set back. If Iran in chaos is the price that needs to be paid for expanding the European Care and crippling Russia’s ability to cause mischief, then those benefits alone mean a positive ROI (return on investment).

The former last: One of the many reasons that America had trouble expanding the coalition of the willing to include Iran and China is that the Asian states are accustomed to free-riding of American efforts in the Gap (the Muslim world and Africa). Unfortunately, much of the hard work in shrinking the Gap relies less on stealth bombers and more on boots on the ground. American labor is simply too expensive to allow Washington to field a 200,000 man army a quick and successful Iraq stabilization may have required, and similarly too expensive to do much good throughout Africa. Critics of strikes on Iran often say that such a war would invite increased attention to the third world from China and India. I say good. We need the powers of the New Core as partners. If the Iran War enables that, then the struggle is worth it.

IBM Lotus Symphony

How cool is this:

“Lotus Symphony is based on the Open Document Format (ODF) standard-which means you’re not locked into proprietary file formats, software licensing agreements and upgrades. Finally, free tools and freedom of choice!”

And this:

Besides committing 35 China developers to OpenOffice.org, IBM plans to make its voice heard — immediately and loudly. IBM will “work within the leadership structure that exists,” said Sean Poulley, vice president of business and strategy in IBM’s Lotus Software division. “But we will take our rightful leadership position in the community along with Sun and others.”

A boost for open source software (OpenOffice.org), a boost for open standards (OpenDocument), free trade in services, and retro (I was confused how the new Lotus Symphony would relate to Lotus SmartSuite, until learning that there had not been a new SmartSuite since 1999!

Elsewhere online: CNET has a factually incorrect hit-piece (among other errors, Google Docs supports OpenDocument just fine). And Dana Blankehorn examines IBM’s wider open source strategy.