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January 2005 Archives

"This is terrorism mixed with rudeness"

I'm impressed that only several dozen people were killed in Iraq on election day. That's a terrible thing to say, in a way, but I was certainly expecting the day the be a bloodbath, and I'm pleasantly surprised. At one polling station, shortly after a suicide bomber killed several people, the voters didn't want the station to close, and insisted on getting back in.

"I would have been happy to have died voting at the time of this explosion, because this is terrorism mixed with rudeness," said Saif Aldin Jarah, 61...

So the polling place reopened. On the advice of the U.S. troops, the security perimeter was pushed back a block, so people could be frisked twice before entering the school.

Though performing this duty meant standing amid flecks of the flesh of the last officer who had the job, there were volunteers. In stepping forward to do the first round of pat-downs themselves, local residents explained that they could raise the alert if another suspicious stranger approached.

"The police might not be able to recognize residents; we know them better," said Zaid Abdulhamid, an electronics merchant. He was stationed at the head of an alley blocked by the trunk of a date palm, the all-purpose roadblock in Iraq. The Arabic words spray-painted on the surrounding walls read: "No to America. No to occupation" and "Death to anyone who hates Iraq."

I've seen turnout numbers of anything from 60% to 72%. The only thing concerns me is that I have yet to see reports of how that turnout was distributed among Shiite and Sunni regions. I feel like a 60% turnout won't do that much for legitimacy if the vast majority were Shiites. Voter turnout was all but non-existent in parts of Mosul and other heavily Sunni areas, but it was better than expected in many Sunni areas, especially later in the day, as it became clear attacks were few. So this is hopeful news.

We're getting a little smarter on the psychological front, too:

The U.S. government invested heavily in the project but sought to play down its efforts for fear the elections would be seen as an American-engineered process.

Throughout the day, U.S. forces stayed in the background as tens of thousands of Iraqi police officers and soldiers fanned out across towns and cities. For the first time since the fall of Hussein, residents of Baghdad saw Iraqi armor in the streets. The personnel carriers and Soviet-built T-55 tanks were leftovers from the dissolved Iraqi army, now overhauled for service with the reconstituted military.

And why is that important? Well:

In some ways, the joy seemed even more palpable than after Hussein's fall, because Iraqis, not foreigners, were the agents of change.

Dirt Devil Suckage

My Dirt Devil Jaguar Power Stick sucks. Or rather, it utterly fails to suck. On carpet, especially, it just can't pick any of those little fuzzballs off. So they're kinda stuck to the carpet, I figure, and since this vacuum doesn't have a carpet roller thing, it's kinda understandable. So I pick the fuzzballs out by hand, drop them lightly back onto the carpet, and the Dirt Devil still cannot suck them in!

My parents' Eureka seems to do a pretty good job. I might just have to toss this guy out and buy one of those instead. Stupid TV commercials.

Bunnies are very persistent

Cute and wrong. And occasionally quite funny: bunny suicides.

Liquid methane rain!

Get out your umbrellas, people! Titan's got liquid methane rain! Sweeeeet....

In related news, this has got to really suck:

Step 1: Spend 18 years of your life preparing an experiment.

Step 2: Wait 7 years for probe to arrive at Titan.

Step 3: Turn on communications channel to get your experiment data.

Step 4: Receive data and rejoice.

Opps! Somebody forgot to do step 3!


There was once a Chinese mammal that ate dinosaurs for lunch. Tasty!

Depressing Calvin remix

Here's the most depressing Calvin and Hobbes remix ever.

To offset that, here's something cute. :P

Iraq Veteran Prosthetic Legs

Here's a Boston Globe article on newfangled prosthetic legs that Iraq veterans are getting.

Boisvert's prosthetic leg is a streamlined, futuristic limb with hydraulic pumps visible through its clear plastic shell. Every night, he detaches it and plugs it into a wall socket to recharge its internal computer.

And here's a link to the C-Leg system mentioned in the article. The basic idea is that it senses motion to then move the joints in the right way to allow proper walking. Awesome.

Iran banning all blogging, social networking access

Here, I feel like blogging is mostly a fad, and a lot less important than a lot of people want it to be. I'm also not sure what other people are really getting out of social networking sites. They both seem overhyped to me.

On my recent trip to China, I found that blogging is pretty popular there, too. You can't mention certain topics on your blog, like Falun Gong or Chen Shui Bian (the Taiwanese pro-independence president), or the Internet police come after you. The same thing goes for message boards. But people just get around it by using slang terms to avoid the search spiders.

As for the Great Wall of China, I found that most people don't typically run into it because they're looking at internal Chinese sites anyway.. and when they really want to see something, they generally at least know someone who knows a proxy address.

In Iran, though, the government apparently feels terribly threatened by blogs. They have just banned all access to blogging and social networking sites.

This is really my favorite thing about the Internet: Despite its defense-funded origins, it was really designed by academics who believe in open flow of information, and it's terribly difficult to truly censor. It's the perfect tool for citizens of middle-class authoritarian countries to slowly rebel with. :)

How P2P content is distributed

Here's a fascinating Wired article about how P2P networks get their content. It's a highly organized structure, where industry insiders pass leaks on to "release groups", who then pass them on to a handful of highly secret "topsites". From there, others actively distribute them to servers on P2P networks, and that's how the public get their hands on them. Despite the seemingly distributed nature of P2P networks, the actual content distribution network is strictly top-down.

About January 2005

This page contains all entries posted to the klog in January 2005. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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