Chew on this: new research on Qat "The Home Office's drugs and alcohol research unit ...will report in the autumn. If they conclude that qat is dangerous, they may well recommend that it should be classified along with other illegal drugs such as cocaine, cannabis and amphetamines, bringing UK law into line with the majority of western countries."
The balanced view on Moveable Type bloggers "You are all pretentious twats. Every last one of you. You're all latte-sipping, iMac-using, suburban-living tertiary-industry-working WASPs who offer absolutely no new insights on anything whatsoever apart from maybe one specialist field if we're lucky."
Anti-Semitism, real and exaggerated The foreign editor of Die Welt syndicated to Ha'aretz. Well worth a read. He concludes: "The European reality [of anti-semitism]... is less threatening than the Israelis believe but more worrisome than the Europeans want to think."
Blumenthal on Dean and Gore "Gore's endorsement of Dean is the most important since grainy film was shown at the 1992 Democratic convention depicting President Kennedy shaking hands with a teenage Bill Clinton."
Julie Burchill: The hate that shames us The follow up to last week's starter on anti-semitism. Quite an unspectacular romp through some of the usual suspects (Tom Paulin, Tam Dayell and the supression of the EU report).
This is a Magazine. Well - only in the loosest meaning of the word. But well worth your clicks.
Iraq Phase three: civil war Simon Tisdall in today's paper: "An orderly transition and the assertion of legitimate, democratic governance is by no means assured. Continuing, escalating civil strife, scattering the seeds of a possible civil war, could yet turn out to be the Bush-Blair legacy in Iraq. "
The 'Where's Plan B?' campaign gatheres momentum. And as Hutton draws to a close, you just know everyones attention is going to shift back to Iraq..and just how shockingly unprepared we were for what might happen once Saddam had been over thrown. Writing in today's Guardian Polly Toynbee concludes
If the prime minister had bought an evening paper as he stepped out of the law courts yesterday, there was the headline: "50th British soldier killed in Iraq as mob opens fire with guns and grenades." News from Iraq gets worse by the day, aid workers are withdrawn and all the US promises is that electricity might return to its pre-war inadequacy in a month or two....His performance yesterday helps get the government off the Hutton hook, but his greatest political danger now lies beyond his control on the dusty ground of Iraq.
Blair asked for a dossier on WMD, but did he request the intelligence services to give him an equivalent assessment of the range of likely postwar political scenarios with some judgments on each one's probability?....Did he query whether a majority of Iraqis was really likely to welcome a foreign invasion, however high-minded the invaders' stated motives were? And would Iraqi happiness at Saddam's departure quickly be qualified by anger at the postwar chaos? Did Blair ask whether Saddam's regime might abandon Baghdad without a major fight and start a guerrilla struggle? Was resistance likely to have enough popular support and acquiescence so that the coalition would find it hard to get information to stamp it out, as Lt General Ricardo Sanchez, the US commander, admitted yesterday?
The president's stubborn insistence that much of the world be shut out of real participation in the rebuilding effort in Iraq is obviously costing lives. In addition, it is costing the United States credibility in Iraq and around the globe. We promised to improve the quality of life, yet so far we have failed to deliver. As a result, increasing numbers of Iraqis see the United States only as occupier, not liberator.
Instead of giving the young people of Iraq a reason to turn away from the violence of terrorism, we have, through failures and unkept promises, fed the seeds of discontent. The inability of the United States to secure the peace in Iraq virtually guarantees al Qaeda a fertile field of new recruits.
War has proved far easier than peace. We had the weapons to win the war, but not the wisdom to secure the peace. The coalition of those who might be willing to share the burden of building a new Iraq will be harder to muster now. But the challenge is too great for the United States alone. The rapidly rising anti-American sentiment demands that an international effort be initiated before Iraq slips from decades of dictatorship to decades of chaos.
And what do you think is the likelihood that all those countries that the US and UK turned their back on to go to war will suddenly agree to put their forces on the ground and help to wipe up our mess?
- Firewire card now installed on the PC....shockingly cheap and easy.
- EphPod up and running...much easier than MusicMatch (thanks to Garret for the recommendation), although a warning: it hates tracks with non-Roman characters (eg: Scandinavian/ cyrillic etc).
- Initially impressed by MoodLogic and DeviceLink's themed mixes.
- Battery life is still less than 8 hours, but I'm just used to charging every night.
- 3,300 tracks and counting...
- My iRiver 190TC is still my portable tool of choice...the iPod radio receiver (link to follow) just seems too expensive and clunky.
- Oh and when will they invent a headphone/ remote set up that doesn't get tangled up every two minutes?
I know that the world and his wife have linked to this, but no apologies for my lack of originality. The idea of an internationally reknowned institution making itself globally widely available over the internet - as covered in Wired (Wired 11.09: MIT Everyware) - has clear echoes of the (also heavily linked) story of Greg Dykes' plans to put the BBC archives on the net: and for me, this is equally significant...possibly more so, because a)it already exists and b)it has the potential to be replicated many times over by other institutions to quite spectacular effect.
The MIT site, is one of those few things that you look at online that makes you believe again in some of the more idealistic concepts of the net, namely - the global democratisation of information and education. And we just don't see enough of it. Minor digression A few years ago, I was drawn into an in-print e-mail debate, and then an appearance on BBC's You and Yours (oh, the glamour of it!) with Brian Lang the then head of the British Library about whether books were dead because of the internet.
It was of course, a completely spurious debate. My house is full of books and will remain so. And while at The British Library, Brian Lang was all too aware of the potential of the internet to get the Library's collection seen outside it's traditional physical domain.
But in the end, the arguments for books vs the net boiled down to aesthetics (sitting on the sofa with a good book) vs the ability to get more information to more corners of the planet than had ever been deemed possible. ('Yes,' said the presenter of you and yours, after I had waxed on the fact that it was the content of books that mattered, not their physical form and about the ability to get books to the developing world, and to break down traditonal barriers of censorship, 'but looking at a laptop is never going to replace sitting on the beach reading the latest Jeffrey Archer.'). Digression over.
Anyway, I now have a list of MIT course that I won't get round to, to add to the list of books I havent' quite read. These include:
- An introduction to Linguistics
- All the Sloan Management courses
- Congress and the American System
The Americans tend ahead of us in most things: like new Nikes and Krispy Kreme donuts. And we know, that if there's something big happening in the US, it eventually makes its way over here.
So, it can only be a matter of weeks (well at least until Hutton and the obligatory related head rolling is over) before our government starts to get the sort of unremitting grief over the current chaos in Iraq.
(Honestly, we love to talk about how insular the US media is...any foreigner currently browsing the British media's obsession with admiring its own reflection through the Hutton inquiry, would hardly be impressed by our world view).
Various reads on this..
- Newsweek: What we should do now (coverline: 'Where's Plan B')
- Oliver Willis on the whole mess
- Rory McArthy in the Guardian returns to Iraq to see it going from bad to worse
- Hugo Young from Vermont on the threat to George Bush.
- Washington Post: Bremer says rebuilding will cost tens of billions.
- BBC: Bush vows 'no retreat' from Iraq
Oh, and finally..one slightly tasteless thought...if Geoff Hoon or Andrew Gilligan were to commit suicide because of the pressure they are put under at the moment: would there be an inquiry?
The Wi-Fi roll out in London grinds on. In the US, there were no shortage of decent cafes offering free Wi-Fi access. In London, we are still limited to the odd Costa Coffee, Starbuck's rather pricey deal, and T-Mobile.
Near our office, Benugo, purveyor of shockingly expensive sandwiches and salads, lets you have (an hours?) free access with any order over £2..which is
Now, BT is planning to wholesale its Openzone product...which should help matters, but will still (I think) result in mainly paid for access. Meanwhile, as Neil pointed out in Online the other week, there are a lot of questions being asked about whether Wi-Fi really is the next big thing
Why does it matter? Well, yes...it's a personal thing. But, I think it's all part of London becoming a smarter working city (and by 'smarter' I mean more brainy). The truth is, we're not all going to work from home. But, that doesn't mean we all have to remain chained to our desks (partcularly when it's 32 degrees and you've go no air conditioning). And these days, we are nothing without a network connection.
As Neil's piece points out, I don't think there's billions in it for BT/ T-Mobile etc from Hotspots. Frankly, when it comes to paying, people rarely have the combination of an absolute need to be connected/ a Wi-Fi card/ enough cash/ and no other wired PCs within easy grasp, that will make them want to get their wallets out.
But, I do think there's a decent return to be made by anyone who gets business punters in between meals (ie: they're having meetings, or just killing time) in to offer it free with food and drink.
Who knows what waifs and strays of new business they might attract if they make a big deal of it.
...you will always love the music that you listened to when you were 16. Hence my soft spot for the Style Council...recently the subject of a a Radio2 documentary. Very welcome..but my youth replayed on Radio2?...now that makes me feel old.