The Placebo Alternative

Dr. Robert W. Lash is an associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School.

He says,

For a drug to be effective it should work better than a placebo, but in most drug studies the placebo itself often has a measurable success rate—often around 20 percent. Thus, even if an alternative therapy is no more effective than a placebo, you’re still left with a one in five chance of feeling better at the end of the day. For some people, even this 20 percent chance of feeling better is worth it.

While most patients believe otherwise, medicine is too often governed by statistics.

I’ve posted another alternative: A Better Doctor

Push arrogance off the earth

He’s a doctor. He took a foreign job to help people. He lived for two years in filth with only salty water to drink, sharing a cell measuring 1.9m (6ft) by 1.7m (5.5ft) by 3m (9.8ft) with up to eight people at a time. He was beaten up by guards, and had four teeth knocked out when investigators attacked him with clubs.

“I could not lie down to sleep for two years – I could only sit. You cannot imagine it. In the summer it got so hot, people were passing out.”

But that was nothing compared to the electric shocks given to the nurses, he says.

“They tortured and treated them like animals – in fact, you would not treat animals like that.”

Far away from Benghazi

Water is a cost of fuel and food

ethanol dewatering sieveGrowing from 27 to more than 200, ethanol plants will use 14 percent of Iowa’s water supply by 2012.

An industry spokesman responds saying that’s “a drop in the bucket”.

For $25, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources grants a 10-year license for ethanol plants to pump as much water as they need from the ground.

Because it’s unknown how much groundwater exists, taxpayers will spend $500,000 to find out.

The top-ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee will not support regulations on how ethanol facilities use water – or pay their own way – until he sees proof that aquifers are in trouble. Retorts the Democrat, “First we really have to understand the big picture.”

More than half of the water used by ethanol plants evaporates during production. [story]

Subsidizing dead farmers

The Government Accountability Office says USDA paid $1.1 billion in subsidies to 172,801 dead people between 1999 through 2005.

Forty percent of that money went to people who had been dead for at least three years. Nineteen percent went to individuals who had been dead for at least seven years. [story]

Relentless inherent contempt

An endangered bird known as a “mosquito king”, certainly a species we’ll miss if it’s extinct, is part of another Bush Administration scandal.

The Fish & Wildlife Service has stepped in to review the behavior of deputy assistant secretary Julie MacDonald. She’s resigned after found pressuring scientists to alter their findings about endangered species and leaking information about them to industry.

Political tinkering with science
While only a third of the misconduct cases are being reviewed, perhaps 100 endangered species-related decisions – and goodness knows what else – deserve further scrutiny. [story]

Shoulda, coulda, woulda

“The entire industry is disappointed by Windows Vista,” the head of Acer, the world’s fourth-biggest PC maker, told the Financial Times Deutschland, “And that’s not going to change….” [story]

Will our cars, homes, gizmos and bank accounts improve with more honesty and candor?

Energy without the corn

Inland sea of North AmericaNorth America was a very different place not long ago.

These odd old oceans are the beginning of a large part of today’s energy policy. From the Gulf to the Arctic, it’s where the big money goes.

The inland sea accumulated a great thickness of marine sediments, largely sandstones, tongues of shale, and fine-grained limestone chalk made of microscopic shells.

Deposits also rained from lakes, swamps and floodplains, and yes, high-energy coastline.

The seas retreated toward the end of the Jurassic.

World-wide climates were warm during this time and most of North America was subtropical. Ferns and conifers were dominant along with more than seventy types of dinosaurs, swimming and flying reptiles, sharks, and small mammals.

inland American seaAnd the mountains lifted
Sediments were shed from the rising mountains and spread as great fans of gravel, sand and silt covered the intense growth until we arrived walking on the Great Plains east of the Rocky Mountains.

Decomposition in many areas were compressed to coal. Other areas fractured and settled to trap modern crude oil and natural gas.

The USA was the world’s number one oil and gas producer until offshore imports became less costly than domestic production.

shale sedimentVast layers of trapped natural gas
Although oil has dominated the world’s energy portfolio for the past century, natural gas has become an important contributor to the global energy industry.

“While overall global energy demand is expected to increase by 50 percent over the next 20 years – demand for natural gas is projected to increase nearly 70 percent.” [dead link chevron.com speeches/2006/2006-0607_oreilly]

Most, if not all of the available new supply sources will be required, such as Arctic gas, imported Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), Alaskan gas, Nova Scotian gas, and the dreaded gas from coal.

To meet demand, producers will increasingly turn to gas trapped in sediment and shale. Trapped natural gas – contained in the majority of the sediment – is attracting an increasing amount of attention and the trend is expected to increase. The hydrocarbon volume stored within gas shales is huge and there is a proven economic viability.

Shale gas has a long history. By 1926, the Devonian shale of the Appalachian basin was in commercial production and was the largest known natural gas field in the world.

These shales still account for 21,000 wells in the US.

Whether crude oil or gas, companies have already used various strategies including multiple wells from a single site using directional drilling; sharing leases, roads, facilities and pipelines with other operating companies; constructing centralized facilities. In most cases, these methods will not meet targets.

Technological advances in well stimulation is increasing recovery and improving the economics, but only at higher consumer costs.

enhanced drilling wellMuch of the continent’s energy is tightly trapped in sediment. Well stimulation is required for ‘tight’ resources where the paths for the oil or gas to flow are so narrow that without stimulation there isn’t a flow at all.

Injecting water and infamous carbon dioxide – an unusual way of starting to sequester carbon – will force ‘tight’ resources to the surface.

“We are finding it more difficult to tap new, very cheap reservoirs. Vast quantities are bypassed or virtually untapped. Up to 60 billion barrels of oil in the United States could be produced with enhanced techniques.”

Every producing region in the world contains large quantities of potentially recoverable gas and oil. Many more details and background [dead link policypete.com]

And then there’s gas not yet discovered
The USGS [pdf] says it will be found in the areas on this map — along the old inland seas.

Where the Gas Will Come From

The other backup

If you had a house fire 15 years ago, you might have lost all your photos.

Today, a fire in a data center has the potential to lose photos for millions of homes.

If someone isn’t already building a data backup option for Web2.0 services that allows you to reassemble your data if they go offline, they should be.

A warning from Aaron at workhabit.org

A better doctor

“The pharmaceutical industry has trained even doctors to believe that there’s a pharmaceutical answer to everything.”

Working out of the small one-room office, here’s a doctor that enjoys diagnosis and has a reputation for solving mysterious cases that stump too many others.

The Case of the Migrainous Art Dealer.
The Case of the Irritable College Grad.
The Adventure of the Chemically Sensitive Sleeper.
Adventure of the Petroleum-Poisoned Senior.

He’s developed a 32-page questionnaire which he asks patients to fill out after their first visit.

The document is comprehensive, asking after family medical histories, social history, habits, hobbies, employment, exposure to household products, industrial chemicals, foreign travel, and so on. Bolte estimates it takes two to four hours to complete. He does not apologize for such complicated homework. Humans are complex, and a doctor never knows until much later if a patient’s response was significant or just a red herring.

He is currently working with software developers to create a questionnaire program that may help target areas for follow-up by physicians who do not have the luxury of time in which to ask questions—which is to say, nearly all physicians.

The economics of modern medicine is not conducive to leisurely interviews. In order to handle all the patients funneled his way by an insurance company, a doctor is obliged to hire numerous staff to handle the paperwork and make sure his invoices are paid. The more staffers on the payroll, the more patients a doctor must see to cover it and ensure a profit for himself and his partners. The more patients he can crank out in an hour, the more profitable he will be.

When Thomas Bolte worked in such a practice, he was horrified.

Today, you’re lucky if your doctor sees you for 12 minutes. How can you possibly find out all you need to know about a patient in 12 minutes?

Full article at Discover

Not as it seems

After nearly 30 years of cranky argument, the results of laissez-faire policies and inaction now roosts across government agencies. Programs for infrastructure, poverty, education, health and civil culture are raped while a mere ruckus misdirects our military and hoists 19th Century economic nationalism.

The food supply for the nation is tainted and certainly the media will be no better reporting errors than skeleton agencies can discover mistakes and dangers.

What are stories outside the USA saying about American exports and food quality?

A few minutes with Google brings the following:

• chicken meat from Tyson Foods Inc. for salmonella
• pork from Cargill for a leanness-enhancing feed additive
• chicken from Sanderson Farms Inc. for growth and anti-parasite drugs
• salted pig innards from Triumph Foods
• chicken feet from Intervision Foods for salmonella
• pig ears from Van Luin for additive ractopamine
• pork by AJC International for ractopamine

A crack down on Chinese products and tainted Chinese ingredients is one part of the story.

Using potentially toxic chemicals or adulterants to lift profits can be avoided across the world, but not while leaders merely argue and make government policy on the advice of a pulpit.

The Murdoch Chronicle

During the term of Tony Blair, “No big decision could ever be made inside No10 without taking account of the likely reaction of three men, Gordon Brown, John Prescott and Rupert Murdoch. On all the really big decisions, anybody else could safely be ignored.”

Yes. Rupert Murdoch.

And, “Murdoch pointed out that his were the only papers that gave us support when the going got tough.”

The Goose Whisperer

The Goose WhispererToby Sterling writing for AP from Holland tells a heartfelt and informing story about geese in our urban habitat and tells of a remarkable fellow known as the ‘Goose Whisperer‘.

“Martin Hof has become a minor celebrity here, in part for his ability to communicate with fowl, which some say borders on the magical.

“And while there’s something special, and a little comical, about watching him talking, humming, and yes, whispering to the birds, there’s more to this than meets the eye.”

Geese are generally monogamous, and a pair may live together 40 years.

Partners that are suddenly split may never recover from the shock. Survivors may call endlessly for missing family members. “Some literally die of loneliness,” Hof says.

Female veterans abandoned

I find myself in sorry stories of America’s war.

An estimated 8,000 female veterans are homeless in the US – the most in the nation’s history and a number that is expected to increase as more women return from the war in Iraq. At the same time, services to help these women stay off the streets are lagging behind.

Nearly 15 percent of the military is female. “The VA is trying to gear up services for women, but frankly it’s not enough given what we are dealing with.” There’s not even a re-integration program for female veterans in every state. [story]

So much to haunt our days.

As Al Gore says of Bush and this war:

“He waged the politics of blind faith. He used a counterfeit combination of misdirected vengeance and misguided dogma to dominate the national discussion, bypass reason, silence dissent, and intimidate those who question his logic both inside and outside the administration.”

Perpetual enemy creating machine

From Canada’s Tyee

War doesn’t work anymore. From Iraq to Afghanistan to the Palestinian conflict, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the oldest method in human history for resolving disputes has become obsolete.

It’s not that war is wrong (it usually is). It’s not that war is ghastly (it always is). The simple fact is that war as a strategy to achieve a desired outcome no longer functions.

Look no further than the ongoing debacle in Iraq. The U.S., with the biggest military machine in human history, is mired in a losing struggle with determined insurgency equipped mainly with small arms and improvised roadside bombs.

After spending more than $480 billion and counting, the U.S. military still cannot pacify a country with no organized military opposition, even when the prize is the second biggest oil reserves in the world.

Instead of throwing good money after bad, we should admit that most military interventions are no longer effective and reallocate those resources towards preventing conditions that lead to conflict. Rather than lamenting the end of war, we should embrace the possibilities it creates.

The U.S. government spends 32 times more on the military than foreign aid. Globally, aid is less than 7 per cent of military spending. Based on those numbers, the potential to make the world a more civil, just and peaceful place is enormous.

The so-called “war on terror” will not be won on a battlefield; it will be resolved through economic development, fair trade practices, strategic assistance and respectful negotiation.

Like slavery, subjugation of women and eugenics, the age of war has come and gone. It will not be missed.

For whom the bomb blows

What can we do with injured Iraqis?

U.S. efforts to construct medical facilities in Iraq have been a miserable failure.

The number of seriously wounded Iraqis is estimated at nearly a million. Over 2,000 doctors have been killed and assassinated in Baghdad. Out of a force of about 190,000, more than 12,000 Iraqi police have been killed. More than 600,000 Iraqis have been killed. One in eight Iraqi children perish before their fifth birthday.

“The medical-care system in Iraq is in shambles.” A few years ago, looters were able to destroy morale very quickly by looting the health-care system. It was highly organized, focused on hospitals, the public health-care system, pharmacies, and pharmaceutical warehouses, and it was unrelenting. Doctors and nurses had their homes looted if they left for work.

The rules of war
The Geneva conventions require that the sick and wounded be treated with “particular protection and respect.” Article 56 of the fourth convention states that “the public Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring and maintaining . . . medical and hospital establishments and services, public health, and hygiene in the occupied territory.” More than a dozen articles in all govern necessary medical measures, from issues of medical supplies to physician security.

Prior American activity
America once had a blueprint for humanitarian efforts in an occupied country. Before and during the Vietnam War, the United States had a coordinated and efficient system in place to maintain and stabilize health care for Vietnamese civilians, which was initially established by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In a joint effort by USAID and the U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, the military implemented four civilian-oriented programs. The combined effect of these four programs was an astounding level of health care.

Even in the midst of the Vietnam War, the U.S. military succeeded in building three hospitals that provided 1,100 beds to civilians. “Vietnam was a time when the world respected the U.S. for that kind of commitment.”

American medics engaged in nearly 40 million civilian encounters in Vietnam. Now the military medics treat about 2,000 Iraqis a year.

What happened?
Traditionally, the lead responsibility for humanitarian efforts has fallen to USAID, but Bush dissolved the program. “The Bush Administration violated every single tenet that has been known in humanitarian circles for decades.”

Iraqi hospitals are unable to handle the level of severity we’re passing on. “There are a number of patients that we transfer into the Iraqi health-care system who will not survive,” says Maj. Jack Emps, a nurse on the Iraqi intensive care unit. Iraqi Hospitals Ailing Under U.S. Occupation report that at Arabic Children’s Hospital, patients brought their own food because the hospital lacked funds to provide meals.

The U.S. military does not provide security for Iraqi hospitals, now corrupt and infiltrated by officers of the Saddam regime allegedly in charge of security in at least one of Iraq’s public hospitals.

The five page article at Discover Magazine concludes,

Shiite or Sunni, there won’t be any rehab, disability payments, or Medicare. …there is no promise of health or peace.

New burdens from a private sector military

The Dave Matthews Band is urging fans to push Congress to do more to ensure that U.S. troops coming home traumatized by combat get the help they need. A petition on the band’s site has 23,000 signatures so far.

“It just struck me as a profound injustice that someone who had given so much of themselves and clearly showed such a quality of personality that the gratitude we’re showing them was basically a dishonorable discharge.”

I’m worried that no one seems to pay attention to the 130,000 injuries to private contractors in Iraq.

For example, Halliburton and its subsidiaries seem to be enjoying new types of contracts never before used in military operations. Spread across deals that are seldom reported and tranched to a handful of companies in the range of five billion dollars per year, military support personnel have become profit centers. The US has reserved USD50 Billion to fund military support contracts over the next several years.

IHT reports of a Houston teacher injured in a car accident dodging a likely roadside bomb near Iraq’s Green Zone while employed under a private contract. Now paralyzed and unable to walk, she is ultimately shuffled into a care home sharing a room with a dying old woman and offered about $200 per week for the next decades of her life. Recent courtroom intervention only slightly improves her treatment.

Update:
CSMonitor has published a four page examination of private contractors.
Having civilians working in war zones is as old as war itself. But starting with US military action in the Balkans and Colombia in the mid-1990s and accelerating rapidly in Afghanistan and Iraq, the number and activity of contractors has greatly increased. Coming from dozens of countries, hired by hundreds of companies, contractors have seen their numbers rise faster than the Pentagon’s ability to track them.

Now, the challenges of this privatization strategy are becoming clear.

Everything from who controls their activities to who cares for them when wounded remains unresolved, say experts in and out of the military. This has led to protests from families in the United States as well as concerns in military ranks about how contractors fit into the chain of command.

“This is a very murky legal space, and simply put we haven’t dealt with the fundamental issues.”

When a trillion sensors rule

Our world will soon be populated with trillions of machines.

David Clark, a computer scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who helped develop the internet, believes that in 15 or 20 years’ time the network will need to accommodate a trillion devices.

A million seconds equals 11.5 days, a billion seconds is 32 years and a trillion is 32,000 years.

These ideas have been floating around for years, variously known as “ubiquitous computing”, “embedded networking” and “the pervasive internet”. The phenomenon “could well dwarf previous milestones in the information revolution”, according to a 2001 report entitled “Embedded, Everywhere” by America’s National Research Council, part of the respected National Academy of Sciences. A report by a United Nations agency in 2005 called it “The Internet of Things”. More at the Economist.

It’s beginning now.
Popular Mechanics: “everything that could benefit from a microchip inside will have a microchip inside”.

Machine communication will become part of the fabric of life.

Several years ago I was developing uses for systems based at Cybersensor, Inc. Now defunct even after a fast rise to Wall Street, for a short time the firm promised to introduce a simple, low-cost, internet-enabled wireless communications for companies seeking monitoring and control of diverse types of equipment or systems. “There’s a whole ecosystem of hardware, software and service guys springing up.” (New York Times 26 Jul 2004)

New Daedalus, a new blog about ‘intelligent architecture”, is asking What if you owned an intelligent building? For business parks in the San Francisco area, I promoted intelligent building systems in the early 1980s. Calling it ‘smartitecture’ under my Telestrategic Consulting firm, seminars introduced developers to time- and service-controlled buildings, including security, facilities and utilities management, of course, but also private telecom, tenant data and office services.

Buildings, roads, farms and animals, our homes and cars, i.d. tags in our dry cleaning? We are entering another revolution – in controllers.

Plato redux

accountable for their actions
This essay originally appeared in Wired:
http://www.wired.com/news/columns/0,70000-0.html

We live in a world where the police and the government are made up of
less-than-perfect individuals who can use personal information about
people, together with their enormous power, for imperfect purposes.
Anonymity protects all of us from the powerful by the simple measure of
not letting them get our personal information in the first place.

Anonymity and Accountability

In a recent essay, Kevin Kelly warns of the dangers of anonymity. It’s OK in small doses, he maintains, but too much of it is a problem: “(I)n every system that I have seen where anonymity becomes common, the system fails. The recent taint in the honor of Wikipedia stems from the extreme ease which anonymous declarations can be put into a very visible public record. Communities infected with anonymity will
either collapse, or shift the anonymous to pseudo-anonymous, as in eBay,
where you have a traceable identity behind an invented
nickname.”

Kelly has a point, but it comes out all wrong. Anonymous
systems are
inherently easier to abuse and harder to secure, as his eBay
example
illustrates. In an anonymous commerce system — where the buyer
does
not know who the seller is and vice versa — it’s easy for one to
cheat
the other. This cheating, even if only a minority engaged in it,
would
quickly erode confidence in the marketplace, and eBay would be out
of
business. The auction site’s solution was brilliant: a feedback
system
that attached an ongoing “reputation” to those anonymous user
names,

and made buyers and sellers accountable for their actions.

And that’s
precisely where Kelly makes his mistake. The problem isn’t
anonymity; it’s
accountability. If someone isn’t accountable, then
knowing his name doesn’t
help. If you have someone who is completely
anonymous, yet just as completely
accountable, then — heck, just call
him Fred.

History is filled with
bandits and pirates who amass reputations
without anyone knowing their real
names.

EBay’s feedback system doesn’t work because there’s a
traceable
identity behind that anonymous nickname. EBay’s feedback system
works
because each anonymous nickname comes with a record of
previous
transactions attached, and if someone cheats someone else
then
everybody knows it.

Similarly, Wikipedia’s veracity problems are
not a result of anonymous
authors adding fabrications to entries. They’re an
inherent property of
an information system with distributed accountability.
People think of
Wikipedia as an encyclopedia, but it’s not. We all trust
Britannica
entries to be correct because we know the reputation of that
company,
and by extension its editors and writers. On the other hand, we
all
should know that Wikipedia will contain a small amount of
false
information because no particular person is accountable for accuracy

and that would be true even if you could mouse over each sentence
and
see the name of the person who wrote it.

Historically,
accountability has been tied to identity, but there’s no
reason why it has to
be so. My name doesn’t have to be on my credit
card. I could have an
anonymous photo ID that proved I was of legal
drinking age. There’s no reason
for my e-mail address to be related to
my legal name.

This is what
Kelly calls pseudo-anonymity. In these systems, you hand
your identity to a
trusted third party that promises to respect your
anonymity to a limited
degree. For example, I have a credit card in
<!– D(["mb","another name from my credit-card company. It\'s tied to my account, but it allows me to remain anonymous to merchants I do business with. The security of pseudo-anonymity inherently depends on how trusted that "trusted third party" is. Depending on both local laws and how much they\'re respected, pseudo-anonymity can be broken by corporations, the police or the government. It can be broken by the police collecting a whole lot of information about you, or by ChoicePoint collecting billions of tiny pieces of information about everyone and then making correlations. Pseudo-anonymity is only limited anonymity. It\'s anonymity from those without power, and not from those with power. Remember that anon.penet.fi couldn\’t stay up in the face of government.

In a perfect world, we wouldn\’t need anonymity. It wouldn\’t be
necessary for commerce, since no one would ostracize or blackmail you
based on what you purchased. It wouldn\’t be necessary for internet
activities, because no one would blackmail or arrest you based on who
you corresponded with or what you read. It wouldn\’t be necessary for
AIDS patients, members of fringe political parties or people who call
suicide hotlines. Yes, criminals use anonymity, just like they use
everything else society has to offer. But the benefits of anonymity —
extensively discussed in an excellent essay by Gary T. Marx — far
outweigh the risks.

In Kelly\’s world — a perfect world — limited anonymity is enough
because the only people who would harm you are individuals who cannot
learn your identity, and not those in power who can.

We do not live in a perfect world. We live in a world where information
about our activities — even ones that are perfectly legal — can
easily be turned against us. Recent news reports have described a

another name from my credit-card company. It’s tied to my account, but
it
allows me to remain anonymous to merchants I do business with.

Th
e
security of pseudo-anonymity inherently depends on how trusted that
“trusted
third party” is. Depending on both local laws and how much
they’re respected,
pseudo-anonymity can be broken by corporations, the
police or the government.
It can be broken by the police collecting a
whole lot of information about
you, or by ChoicePoint collecting
billions of tiny pieces of information
about everyone and then making
correlations. Pseudo-anonymity is only limited
anonymity. It’s
anonymity from those without power, and not from those with
power.
Remember that
anon.penet.fi couldn’t stay up in
the face of government.

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need anonymity.
It wouldn’t be
necessary for commerce, since no one would ostracize or
blackmail you
based on what you purchased. It wouldn’t be necessary for
internet
activities, because no one would blackmail or arrest you based on
who
you corresponded with or what you read. It wouldn’t be necessary
for
AIDS patients, members of fringe political parties or people who
call
suicide hotlines. Yes, criminals use anonymity, just like they
use
everything else society has to offer. But the benefits of anonymity

extensively discussed in an excellent essay by Gary T. Marx —
far
outweigh the risks.

In Kelly’s world — a perfect world — limited
anonymity is enough
because the only people who would harm you are
individuals who cannot
learn your identity, and not those in power who
can.

We do not live in a perfect world. We live in a world where
information
about our activities — even ones that are perfectly legal —
can
easily be turned against us. Recent news reports have described a
<!– D(["mb","student being hounded by his college because he said uncomplimentary things in his blog, corporations filing SLAPP lawsuits against people who criticize them, and people being profiled based on their political speech. We live in a world where the police and the government are made up of less-than-perfect individuals who can use personal information about people, together with their enormous power, for imperfect purposes. Anonymity protects all of us from the powerful by the simple measure of not letting them get our personal information in the first place. This essay originally appeared in Wired: <http://www.wired.com/news/columns/0,70000-0.html>

Kelly\’s original essay:
<
http://www.edge.org/q2006/q06_4.html>

Gary T. Marx on anonymity:
<http://web.mit.edu/gtmarx/www/anon.html>

** *** ***** ******* *********** *************

Cell Phone Companies and Security

This is a fascinating story of cell phone fraud, security, economics,
and externalities. Its moral is obvious, and demonstrates how economic
considerations drive security decisions. According to “The Globe and
Mail”:

“Susan Drummond was a customer of Rogers Wireless, a large Canadian
cell phone company. Her phone was cloned while she was on vacation,
and she got a $12,237.60 phone bill (her typical bill was $75). Rogers
maintains that there is nothing to be done, and that Drummond has to pay.”

Like all cell phone companies, Rogers has automatic fraud detection
student being hounded by his college because he said uncomplimentary
things
in his blog, corporations filing SLAPP lawsuits against people
who criticize
them, and people being profiled based on their political
speech.

We
live in a world where the police and the government are made up
of
less-than-perfect individuals who can use personal information
about
people, together with their enormous power, for imperfect
purposes.
Anonymity protects all of us from the powerful by the simple
measure of
not letting them get our personal information in the first
place.

This essay originally appeared in Wired:
<http://www.wired.com/news/columns/0,70000-0.html>

Kelly’s
original essay:
<http://www.edge.org/q2006/q06_4.html>

Gary T.
Marx on anonymity:
<http://web.mit.edu/gtmarx/www/anon.html>

Better war

Is the “Hearts and Minds” approach cheaper than war?

Quoting ScienceBlog:

“Ask any scientist, any person with the gift of imagination, and he will assure you that, whatever countermeasures you think of, no matter how many millions you spend, how many pre-emptive wars you wage, you will never achieve more than 20% security.”

[Perhaps there is…] “Something other than helping corrupt people get richer.”

To the question of testing our strategy, my response:

I like it when bloggers occasionally belt an issue onto the table. Learning is no good if not wrapped, ribboned and put in our hands for the gift of thinking.

I’ll add the thrust of my current thoughts.

If we are not victoriously moving into the future, we are making a mistake. If we do not bring triumph, we’ve screwed up. Without cheers and applause, we are marching the wrong boulevard.

Spending America’s lives requires America’s success. War must never be mercenary, colonial, nor hint of wasting effort. Not one of us should be called to picayune battle. Where did we get the idea that we drain blood for mere politics, for mere government, for mere revenge?

We are pledged to a frontier of good living, free living, civil and collected in our drive for peace and prosperity. Of course we must cull the outlaw, the violent state and the arrogant idiot: Always, completely, quick. Of course we will bring the entire world with us: Tolerant of difference, intolerant of danger. Less will fail.

Every death is a new idea waiting our response. Currently, we are sifting the results of battle without the conviction of our purpose. If our strategy were correct, we would endure our sacrifice, enjoy our progress and celebrate with all the world.

45% favor impeachment hearings

A public opinion poll from the American Research Group recently reported that more than four in ten Americans — 45% — favor impeachment hearings for President Bush and more than half — 54% — favored impeachment for Vice President Cheney.

Unhappiness about the war in Iraq isn’t the only cause.

Bill Moyers gets perspective on the role of impeachment in American political life from Constitutional scholar Bruce Fein, who wrote the first article of impeachment against President Bill Clinton, and The Nation’s John Nichols, author of ‘The Genius Of Impeachment’.

“The founding fathers expected an executive who tried to overreach and expected the executive would be hampered and curtailed by the legislative branch… They [Congress] have basically renounced — walked away from their responsibility to oversee and check.” — Bruce Fein

“On January 20th, 2009, if George Bush and Dick Cheney are not appropriately held to account this Administration will hand off a toolbox with more powers than any President has ever had, more powers than the founders could have imagined. And that box may be handed to Hillary Clinton or it may be handed to Mitt Romney or Barack Obama or someone else. But whoever gets it, one of the things we know about power is that people don’t give away the tools.” — John Nichols

History changes

“A group of Iraqi army officers have staged a coup in Iraq and overthrown the monarchy.

“Baghdad Radio announced the Army has liberated the Iraqi people from domination by a corrupt group put in power by ‘imperialism’.

“From now on Iraq would be a republic that would ‘maintain ties with other Arab countries’.

King Faisal II of Iraq believed to have been killed during the 1958 coup“Reports from the US Embassy in Baghdad say the British Embassy has been ransacked and set on fire.

“The ambassador and his wife were held at the embassy until late this afternoon. They are now in a Baghdad hotel.

“Unconfirmed reports suggest King Faisal has been killed.”

The 1958 Coup in Iraq sparked jitters in Middle East.