Saturday, February 22, 2003

It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault. It's all Clinton's fault.

Except, though -- it's not.

Friday, February 21, 2003

Via an e-mail loop I'm on, some Japanese computer-error messages that are naturally in the form of haiku.

........................................................
The Web site you seek
Cannot be located, but
Countless more exist.
--------------------------------------------
Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.
Order shall return.
-----------------------------------------------
Program aborting:
Close all that you have worked on.
You ask far too much.
------------------------------------------------
Windows NT crashed.
I am the Blue Screen of Death.
No one hears your screams.
-------------------------------------------------
Yesterday it worked.
Today it is not working.
Windows is like that.
-------------------------------------------------
Your file was so big.
It might be very useful.
But now it is gone.
-------------------------------------------
Stay the patient course.
Of little worth is your ire.
The network is down.
-------------------------------------------------
A crash reduces
Your expensive computer
To a simple stone.
-------------------------------------------------
Three things are certain:
Death, taxes and lost data.
Guess which has occurred.
-------------------------------------------------
You step in the stream,
But the water has moved on.
This page is
not here.
-------------------------------------------------
Out of memory.
We wish to hold the whole sky,
But we never will.
------------------------------------------------
Having been erased,
he document you're seeking
Must now be retyped.
-------------------------------------------------
Serious error.
All shortcuts have disappeared.
Screen. Mind.
Both are blank

One must have a mind of winter . . .

Iceboating has great aesthetic appeal, and the top speeds are out of this world. It sounds like a blast. Want to build one? Here are some free plans. (I love the disclaimer: "Warning! Risk of injury, death, drowning!") Fringe: an iceboat stamp with a 19th c. image of iceboats. The same idea, only on land.

Sunday, February 16, 2003

Opposing War Is Good, But Not Good Enough

Faleh A. Jabar is an Iraqi dissident who offers an interesting perspective especially if you oppose the war but are also against leaving Iraq to stew in its own juices until Hussein dies of old age (a.k.a. the "containment" policy).
Opposing the war in itself is good but not good enough. Letting the Leviathan off the hook is a grave mistake for which we will pay sooner rather than later. Opposing war, which is an instrument of politics, should not lead us to forget the crux of the things political. It is not weapons of mass destruction that count most; what really counts is the political system that controls them. Ignoring this fact by the forces of peace simply serves the war camp.

Dozens of nations have chemical and biological weapons. None has deployed them, except Saddam's regime, first against the Iranian forces, later against Iraqi civilians. Governments should be held responsible for such crimes. Ironically, the United States let Saddam get away with no punishment for the actual deployment of chemical and biological weapons back in 1988, but it is now adamant about confronting him for a possible deployment of such weapons in the future. This is the logic of preemption. Yet there is no law, domestic or international, that permits a prosecutor to go after an ex-convict for a future, would-be offense. There is every law to bring a culprit to trial for actually breaching human norms in the first place.

In all the decades of struggle and international lobbying, one approach has never been tried: a meaningful political process to disengage the various components of the regime from each other--above all, a drive to split the ruling class-clan.

Here's what I think ought to happen. One, threaten Saddam with indictment. Two, give him an alternative for safe passage at the same time; this may create a crack in the ruling class-clan. Three, send a list of thirty or so of his aides who are persona non grata and demand that they leave the country with him. This ought to convince the rest of the class-clan members that they are not threatened en masse--only those who were most responsible for the offenses of the regime. Four, encourage this class-clan to oust Saddam into exile and sweeten the deal by offering a mini-Marshall plan. This mini-Marshall plan would be made available provided power was transferred to a civilian, interim government.

Such continued pressure, a political onslaught, should be backed by threat of force. A few warning shots may well be sufficient. This would help split the ruling group and embolden the people to take matters into their hands. A painfully slow process of regime disintegration has already been going on, and this political pressure would hasten the process along. An invasion, on the other hand, would wrench matters out of Iraqi hands and would risk untold consequences.