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,

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.

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.

Congratulations PKA

My kid brother PKA graduated from state university with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Geography today. After only two years! Woot!

While earning summa cum laude distinction, bureaucratic ineptitude left him with “only” magna cum laude. We’re proud of you.

This fall he will be interning with the National Geographic Society, after which he is off to grad school. All the best!


Saudis Oppose Religious Connectivity

Saudis arrest 40 Christians in raid on secret church,” Associated Press, 29 April 2005, (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.

Reid: Republicans Will Win (Campaign Despair and other Puns)

‘Miracle’ needed to win back Senate,” by Charles Hurt, Washington Times, 29 April 2005, (from South Dakota Politics).

Military confrontations are typically broken down into three levels

  • Tactical relates to a specific battle. Napoleon’s tactical brilliance allowed him to win the Battle of the Three Emperors, tactical despair is when the front lines break, etc.
  • Campaign or Operational relates to a series of battles and the operations that support them. The Allied invasion of Northern Africa (Operation Torch) and the German invasion of Russia (Operation Barbarossa) were real life campaigns. Like battles, campaigns can be war-gamed and imagined, like Operation Olympic (the 1946 invasion of Japan) or Operation Return (the Cold War American defense of Europe). When the Germans at Stalingrad surrendered, Germans faced campaign despair.
  • Strategic relates to the entire war. The America’s strategy in the Cold War was to buy-off Germany and Japan and wait out Russia. General Lee faced strategic despair when he felt the Civil War was unwinnable, and so surrendered to General Grant.

Politically, a tactical confrontation would be a specific battle (say, social security or judges), strategic confronations are what the tactics are for (creating a solid majority to enact the entire agenda), and the campaigns are the support actions for the tactical battles — actual campaign. Then what to make of this:

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid raised a few eyebrows yesterday on the Senate floor when he said it would take a “miracle” for Democrats to win enough races next year to take back the Senate.
I would like to think a miracle would happen and we would pick up five seats this time,” he said during a floor debate over the filibusters of President Bush’s judicial nominees. “I guess miracles never cease.”
Republicans were delighted by what they called an “admission” from the highest-ranking elected Democrat in the country.

Campaign despair for the top Democrat Senator! That would be like Admiral Yamamoto admitting that the campaign in the Pacific was unwinnable for Japan.

Oh wait, he did.

You know what happened next.

The nuclear option.

No Careers for Americans (Flat Jobs, Steep Education)

‘What, Me Worry?’,” by Thomas Friedman, New York Times, 29 April 2005, (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.

Minnesota House to Pedophiles: Dead Boys Tell no Tells

House passes sex offender penalties,” by Don Davis, The Forum, 29 April 2005,§ion=News.

No comment on the law itself. Just a post on Minnesota’s soon-to-be-bloody encounter with the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Pedophiles should be castrated, the Minnesota House decided Thursday.

Representatives also voted to place labels identifying sex offenders on their driver’s licenses and vehicle license plates and to send the worst sex offenders to prison for life.

The House bill doubles most sex offender sentences. Those who do not get mandatory life sentences would be released only when a new parole board feels they no longer present a threat to society.

Sex offenders would be sentenced to life if they commit the crime with torture, with kidnapping with a victim younger than 13 or older than 70 or with more than one victim.

It will lead to less sexually abused children. This law will lead to more murdered children. It is up to Minnesotans whether that is a good deal or not.

If the Minnesota House gets it way, the punishment for sexual abuse will in many cases be greater than the punishment for murder. (There is no chemical castration for murderers, in spite of the fact that testosterone is postively correlated to violence.) This both strongly discourages pedophilia while strongly encouraging pedophiles to murder their victims. (Dead boys cannot testify.) Additionally, it will decreasing reporting of family members, as the law would cause much more family trauma than already exists.

If Tradesports had a “young children raped and murdered” futures market for Minnesota, I’d buy as many shares as I could and become a rich man. And if they had a “young children raped” in Minnesota futures market, I’d sell that short. But pedophilia seems to be a compulsion, so I wouldn’t short by as much.

Again, no comment on the law itself. The legislators clearly aren’t thinking it out, but the law’s wisdom is independent from theirs.

Personal note: In my small town where I grew up, we later discovered that my doctor was a pedophile. This issue involves real problems which should have real solutions. Few are offering any.

Update: Riehl World ponders a similar proposal in New Jersey.

Indescribably Beautiful Mock Tory Ad

The truth behind the spin?,” Channel 4 News, 25 April 2005, (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.


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.

DailyKos on the War for the Courts

The Making of the Corporate Judiciary: How big business is quietly funding a judicial revolution in the nation’s courts,” by Michael Scherer, Mother Jones, November/December 2003, (from Daily Kos).

Mike at dKos linkes to an old Mother Jones story on judges. It’s over-the-top, but it understores the structural change the Republicans are going for

Years of delaying President Clinton’s nominees to these same courts left the Bush administration, and the business community, with a golden opportunity: All but two of the nation’s 13 federal circuits — evenly divided between Democratic and Republican appointees under Clinton — could have Republican majorities by the next election. “With this four-year crop, it’s really going to be a different judiciary than it is now,” says Eldie Acheson, who led judge selection for Clinton’s Justice Department.

The stated goal of many of these business groups is not a modest one: to chip away at more than 60 years of legal history, dismantle federal social services, and effectively erase the policies of the Franklin Roosevelt era. “We’ve been living since the New Deal with an essentially unconstitutional government,” says Roger Pilon, director of the Center for Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute. The new generation of young conservative and libertarian lawyers being elevated to federal courts, he adds, “are not afraid to say that.”

Why are the circuit courts important? Because it is where almost all rulings are made.

Big money, however, cares a great deal about who sits on the nation’s 13 federal circuit courts. “There is the hope on the part of the business community that their rulings will be more friendly,” says Paul DeCamp, a Republican corporate lawyer who counts two nominees as personal friends. “The Supreme Court can’t decide every case.” In fact, circuit courts are the final venue for 99 percent of federal cases and most regulatory challenges.

The filibuster fight is actually a fight for the future of the courts. The Democrats are losing. They know it.

Acorn Officially Censored (Congrats)

On a forced hiatus,” by Nitin Pai, The Acorn, 29 April 2005,

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!