09 April 2003
The Spanish Defence Minister on yesterday's shelling by US tanks of the journalist-filled hotel in Baghdad: "I've been told there are circumstances that were at the least surprising" -- but she refused to respond to reports that the Pentagon had declared the hotel a target 48 hours before shelling began. The Pentagon is now claiming the tanks opened fire not because of actual sniper fire and grenade attacks but because someone in one of the tanks saw enemy "binoculars" being used from the hotel.
10:02:22 PM  #   your two cents []
Mitsubishi's Wakamaru steps up to the table Roland Piquepaille has robot pictures from last week's Robodex in Japan!
9:53:45 PM  #   your two cents []
New Scientist: "A standard PC file-compression program can tell the difference between classical music, jazz and rock, all without playing a single note. This new-found ability could help scholars identify the composers of music that until now has remained anonymous."
8:21:13 PM  #   your two cents []
Spanish journalists snub Straw. Spanish journalists today snubbed Spain's prime minister and Britain's foreign secretary in protest at the death of the Spanish TV cameraman in Baghdad. [Guardian Unlimited]
8:08:30 PM  #   your two cents []
eMac drops below $700. Apple says schools can get the all-in-one computers for $699, while students and teachers can get them for $779. Analysts call the discount an aggressive move to stem losses to Dell. [CNET News.com]
8:07:51 PM  #   your two cents []

 Al-Jazeerah posts the only picture I've seen of the aftermath of the US tank blasts at the Palestine Hotel, where nearly all journalists have been located during the war. We sure do get lots of shots of  soldiers looking determined, unbloodied people on the streets, and eerily beautiful pics of missiles being launched, however. The official spin that pictures like this one are 'tasteless' -- when there's a massive appetite for blood and gore in the US box office, as long as it comes via Hollywood special effects departments -- underlines the propaganda usefulness of sanitising a war into images of silly war correspondents in gas masks and desert vistas rather than the actual human cost. In that context, don't talk to me about Al-Jazeerah being 'Arab propaganda'.

7:33:12 PM  #   your two cents []
Clearing my browser cache solved my Technorati Cosmos problem noted yesterday. Thanks for suggestions, everyone!
6:03:11 PM  #   your two cents []

roddy.jpg (9369 bytes) If you're a Roddy Doyle fan (The Commitments, The Van,  Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha), Vincent Browne broke out of his usual current events programming format last night and spent the entire show talking to Doyle about his novel about domestic violence, The Woman Who Walked Into Doors. The book has been turned into a play; Browne was clearly wowed by the book. You can hear their conversation here, for most of today; after then, go here and click on Tuesday's show.

3:26:17 PM  #   your two cents []

John Robb:

How do we win the peace in Iraq?  We need to help and not just with money.  It can also not only be self-help.  Where are the hordes of educational experts, health experts, (non-exploitive) business experts, agricultural experts, etc.. ready to enter Iraq after the war is over?  Why are we only willing to send oil experts, american corporations working on contract, and ex-military managers?  We need a Peace-Corps on steroids -- not kids that are straight out of college (which is almost the equivalent of useless), but smart and experienced people that want to make a difference.  Remember, Iraqi oil revenues aren't even close to dealing with the costs of this (not only are the oil revenues paltry -- 0.03% of US GNP -- but Saddam has run up a huge national debt buying weapons).  The US is in this up to the eyeballs financially in this venture.  We declared war on this country and it is our responsibility to them and to our long-term financial future to help them succeed.

3:10:33 PM  #   your two cents []
Google: Is all the news fit to post?. Nestled among headlines on Google News from the thousands of newspapers and wire services are press releases and government statements that aren't clearly distinguished from actual news articles. [CNET News.com]... Hmmmm, well, whatever about Google News, it seems to me that a lot of newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations also routinely publish/broadcast items that are basically just rewritten, unquestioned press releases and government statements, which also aren't clearly distinguished from 'actual' news articles...
12:14:50 PM  #   your two cents []
Jane Wagner. "I always wanted to be somebody, but I should have been more specific." [Quotes of the Day]
12:12:39 PM  #   your two cents []

Baghdad celebrates. Looting in Iraqi capital· Saddam's 30-year rule at an end· Hundreds greet US marines [Guardian Unlimited]... For a live take, check out Irish Times journalist Lara Marlowe's fascinating radio report this morning, which should be archived after noon GMT here (about 60-70 minutes into the show). yes, there's celebrations of the end of Saddam's rule, she says, but many Iraqis are very fearful as there's no longer any police force in the city and clearly not enough soldiers to retain order (an issue former Special Ops guy John Robb has noted several times -- Iraq  is the size of California, with over 22 million people. Imagine trying to retain order in a state that size with 100,000 soldiers). Looting so far is on government installations, not citizen homes or shops, thankfully. She also notes thousands of wounded soldiers and citizens in the local hospitals (images not being broadcast, of course). Much anger continuing over the shelling of the journalists' hotel, with many journalists feeling it wasn't quite an accident, and no one apparently believing the 'sniper fire' story (the journos were there, on the rooftops, after all). The hotel is 17 floors high, sticks well above the cityscape, and the military knew it was primarily journos and civilians there, she says. Amazing with all the communications equipment the journos and military have, that at least a warning would not have been sent to the journos. This whole picture simply does not make sense. And, still no sign of Salam Pax.

In other news, Irish coverage of the controversial statement from Bush and Blair on UN involvement in Iraq after their meeting yesterday in Northern Ireland: "The United States and Britain appeared headed last night for another serious international diplomatic clash over Iraq... Pre-war divisions which shattered the earlier unity of Security Council efforts to disarm President Saddam Hussein seem destined to re-emerge." Other Irish Times war coverage is here [free access].

12:12:16 PM  #   your two cents []
Anatole France. "When a thing has been said and well, have no scruple. Take it and copy it." [Quotes of the Day]
11:54:24 AM  #   your two cents []
NY Times: Silicon Valley Hikes Wireless Frontier. "Nor does the move to wireless computing spell the death of the personal computer, any more than the rise of the PC meant the demise of the mainframe computer. But as wireless telephony and computing combine, the center of gravity in digital technology is clearly shifting." [Tomalak's Realm]
11:53:43 AM  #   your two cents []
Is There Life After Silicon Valley's Fast Lane?. As Gordon Moore's famous law of chip innovation seems to be coming to an end, Silicon Valley's true believers are having second thoughts. [New York Times: Technology]
11:51:04 AM  #   your two cents []
Two Start-Ups Aim to Take on Cisco and Juniper. Two Silicon Valley start-up companies will unveil new products that will make it less expensive for Internet and phone carriers to route their data traffic. [New York Times: Technology]... One of the two mentioned here is Caspian Networks. An interesting detail about Caspian is that it was founded by one of the Internet's key pioneers, Larry Roberts (he was the one put in charge of developing the Arpanet in 1964). I met and interviewed Mr Roberts, an extremely interesting man, in Dublin two years ago, where he kindly gave me a heads up on a fascinating bit of research he'd done. I wrote up a piece on it for Wired and for the Guardian (the latter included another enjoyable interview for me, with researcher Andrew Odlyzko, considering the evidence from the study.
11:50:40 AM  #   your two cents []

Good, funny piece on US media and war coverage, from the Guardian's journo embedded in LA:

I was buying some groceries in a store just after the war in Iraq had started when the man taking my money asked whether or not I thought we were about to come under attack.

I can understand that being a topic of conversation in Basra, but we were in LA - the sun was shining and there were surfers heading for the beach.

I assured him he need not worry, the Iraqis were not about to mount an invasion on California. Yes, he said, but what about the French?

 Thanks to virulent anti-French rhetoric from CNN and Fox news, some Americans apparently believe the Marines are fighting a second front against those annoying wine and cheese fanatics in 'Old Europe'. I'm still waiting to see how long it takes for Americans to start dismantling their most famous French symbol and gift, the Statue of Liberty (as the empty 'freedom fries' wrappers blow around its base, no doubt). I wonder, have trips to visit it been cancelled? Curtailed? Protests mounted on the Staten Island Ferry? Read your history, folks! That would certainly be a bigger gesture than changing menus to read 'freedom toast'... especially if there's a war happening against those darn French!

11:36:26 AM  #   your two cents []