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The Longest Now

Hanscom Thoughts
Friday June 27th 2003, 5:34 pm
Filed under: international

I was at Hanscom today, listening to an air force 3-star talk generally to the public about his recent experiences as a key CIA – DOD liaison, and was suddenly reminded of two things: 

  1. Almost everyone in our military is doing what they think is most needed in the country (and perhaps the world) right now, and
  2. Because of the many levels of secrecy our world enjoys, most of the real heroism and success, along with many of the mistakes and failures, of our deepest military and political efforts may well never [ever] be generally known. 

There’s a lovely analogy to be made between open scientific dialogue, open source software, and high-stakes secrecy, but I’m too sun-touched to make it right now.

KK frenzy spreads to Arlington Town Committee
Thursday June 26th 2003, 2:11 pm
Filed under: chain-gang

Arlington’s beloved Paul Schlichtman writes:

I had to go to Malden yesterday, and faced with the depressing  task of dealing with the agenda of the School Committee Budget  Subcommittee, I decided (in the spirit of prior suggestions surrounding Jim Marzilli’s coupons) that the total lack of fat and sweetness in the school budget required some sort of counteraction.  After about 30 minutes in a line that can only be described as a party environment, I got two dozen KK doughnuts and the subsequent school committee deliberations were a little less grim.

They pulled a doughnut right off the line as you approached the order takers.  It was hot, sweet, wonderful, everything I remembered from last year’s California KK visit.  The one leftover doughnut that made its way home last night had about 20 seconds in the microwave before eating, brought back that hot and fluffy feel.

I must point out that in most microwaves, 20 seconds is *far* too long to reheat a glazed KK donut.  8 or 10s on high is just right.

Speaking of Ancient Civ Communications
Monday June 23rd 2003, 6:02 pm
Filed under: chain-gang

Another (here’s the last one) ancient civs update from fair Harvard: deciphering Inca khipu.  Harvard anthro is wicked cool.  I don’t want to wait for a book to come out with details, I want to track Urton down…

Speaking of Ancient Civ Communications …

Monday June 23rd 2003, 5:55 pm
Filed under: chain-gang

I was at MacLean Hospital last week, and they have a magnificent campus for inpatient mental health… my goodness.  The funding crunch taking place within their glorious buildings on their beautiful property seemed wildly out of place.  But I want to talk about the way asylums deal with communication barriers, over time and without the obstacles of rancor or the possibility of misunderstandings being (depending on the context) considered active/intentional/partisan.

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Monday June 23rd 2003, 5:49 pm
Filed under: indescribable

We interrupt this ongoing broadcast to remind you of the Medford KK grand opening tomorrow morning at 05:30 hrs.  Yours truly will be there well before that, getting in some reading.  Look for me if you come out for the fun.

(Electronic) Rodents of Unusual Size
Sunday June 22nd 2003, 3:38 pm
Filed under: chain-gang

Well, I’ve clearly been futzing around too much with this blog today.  TLN no longer shows up on the Berkman hosted-blog list.  Maybe someone was put out by my name change and the recent activity?  Afraid of uni-longevity?  Upset with my characterizations of our presidential non-candidates?  [Monday update: still invisible]  Now you’ll have to remember the URL. 
      Anyway, it’s definitely a sign to get outside, rain and all.  As a kid in Houston I was scared of RUSes on days like today, but here I think it’s safe. I’ve been avoiding the real work I have to do, and my connection’s been flaky… let’s hope for a nice WiFi-enabled bookstore to spend the afternoon.
      If you’re looking for actual content, try the newly-updated stories, or the fleshed-out Clark info.

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The Importance of Names
Sunday June 22nd 2003, 2:18 pm
Filed under: chain-gang

Ancient chinese wisdom holds with the extreme importance of names.  Modern propagandists would agree, if with less enthusiasm… political candidates sometimes rename themselves for this reason.   I always have trouble naming images, sites, books; most of the names I have for private items aren’t words at all — perhaps I haven’t the poetry to create the overlapping meanings I want from everyday phrases.  In any case, Dave refuses to pronounce Omnipresent Longevity and I’m left contemplating names again.  For now.  [speaking of which, there’s an old caption contest that was never resolved…]

Grimm Gems and a Mermaid Parade
Sunday June 22nd 2003, 7:01 am
Filed under: null

Oh, how I’d like to be rain on this parade.
And yet another reason why Mary reminds Donna she loves James.

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The Clinton-Clark Ticket — or is it Clark-Clinton?
Saturday June 21st 2003, 11:57 pm
Filed under: popular demand

I should have seen it coming — the top two undeclared candidates quietly joining forces.  It was staring straight out at me from Clark’s WaveCrest bio:

Gen. Clark is Chairman and CEO of Wesley K. Clark & Associates, a business services and development firm based in Little Rock, Ark.

Anyway, Clark was at Hillary’s book-signing two nights ago, got a book signed, and set up a rival greeting line.  Bill Kristol knew the score almost a year ago.

But what if they put Clark at the top of the ticket, with Hillary as VP?  This may be the more prudent option.  After all, what self-respecting Republican would vote Hillary for President?  Here’s the updated rundown on Clark.

The Clinton-Clark Ticket — or is it Clark-Clinton? …

Dancing in the Streets
Saturday June 21st 2003, 10:59 pm
Filed under: chain-gang

There was dancing in the Cambridge streets yesterday night.  (Mass Ave, in fact, in front of Cambridge City Hall.) Wow!  People of all ages; kids running everywhere; the kind of unspoiled cross-generational fun cities do best. There were 20-somethings breakdancing on the grass in front of city hall, kids running everywhere, people from the senior center across the street boogieing to ’50s songs… and a great selection of music from decades past. 

With a little more effort (this event was amazingly under-advertised and -reported), a live band and better light-techs — perhaps even extending an invitation to and sharing costs with a few surrounding townships — they could easily extend the social diversity to match the age diversity, cordon off a couple more blocks of Mass Ave (they didn’t use half of the blocks they *did* cordon off), and make this yearly event a night of city-wide excitement on a scale normally found only in, say, New Orleans. 

I’ll say one thing for Clark
Friday June 20th 2003, 4:29 pm
Filed under: metrics

By the time you’re his age, you’re responsible for your face.  As my father would say, he has a good face.

But why did his team pick such a small-time web design team for his personal site?  His site is full of little typos and imperfections.

I’ll say one thing for Clark …

Drafting Clark for Prez
Friday June 20th 2003, 2:56 pm
Filed under: popular demand

(10/18: There is now a separate Wesley Clark story for future updates)

  I’m not particularly curious about most of the presidential candidates out there.  Their motives are clear; their platforms and supporters and reasons for running, straightforward (and mostly uninteresting).  I respect Dean; it’s natural for him to have a groundswell of support considering his great success in an explosively grass-roots state and his supporters’ avid blogging; I want him to succeed.  But I’m not (yet) curious about him or his candidacy.  
      General Wesley Clark makes me very curious.

Current sites

Recent Political History

Clark has certainly had politics on his mind since retiring from the military, and probably long before.  He was a White House aide for a time in the ’70s, after his initial time in the Army.  Last year he was asked by both parties about considering a run for Senate in Arkansas, and said (Feb 2002) he was considering it…  I remember a friend suggesting him for president months ago, before fighting started in Iraq; I didn’t realize (nor did the friend) that Clark had been subtlely broadcasting his presidential suitability for a long while.
       He was certainly considering a run in a national campaign last fall, when he started writing political columns (for the London Times, as early as last August) criticizing the administration’s foreign policy, meeting with DNC bigwigs and touring the Granite State, endorsing Katrina Swett before the midterm elections.  Manchester Dem chairman Raymond Buckley put it well, after a dinner party with Clark: “I’d say he is running, but I don’t know if he is running in 2004 or 2008 or beyond. I first met Clinton in 1979.”    

       Clark took a big step in February, leaving his two-year post as investor at Stephens, Inc.  His decision to float a shadow campaign and become a serious political force in the coming election was made by then, as he moved to write political articles, promote his book [as he had done throughout his tenure at Stephens], and hit the lecture circuit full-time.  See for instance his widely-quoted War Diary for the London Times (note his bio there explicitly states he is considering running against Bush in the coming election).
       Clark was pulling out the stops by late April — consider his bio at WaveCrest Labs, where he was suddenly named Chairman of the Board on April 21: a great bio for a pres. candidate, but irrelevant to the company after the first sentence.  They don’t mention his recent investment work in emerging technology, or his relevant board positions elsewhere — they don’t mention his investment work at all.  Contrast this with the other management-team bios, or to Clark’s carefully-targeted bios for Stephens, Inc. and NATO.

      Yet he’s been giving non-monotonic mixed signals — despite such clear “maybes” as his London Times bio, last week Wired wrote that he was still insisting he wasn’t running (a fine way to fire up support, as Hillary would be quick to agree; everyone needs to go watch Primary Colors again).


       When did Hlinko start promoting Clark?  Surely before April 9, when he launched draftwesleyclark, migrating it from its parent site.  Did the Mar 16 UPI report coin it’s title phrase “Draft Wesley Clark“?  Maybe someone should ask author Cliff Shechter.  How long ago did an official Clark sub-campaign start up?  How much of it was due to encouragement by the Clintons?  How large is his staff now?  And how often does an Arkansas Rhodes Scholar consider running for president?  Oh, right.

       For negative opinions of General Clark, and questions about his record, look elsewhere — cf. zealous reports of Clark’s association with Waco, or writing by David Hackworth, online.
       For older opinions of him, try searching for SACEUR and Clark; it’s hard to find extended opinions of him from before 1997.  Here’s a 1998 salute to him from Stuttgart with a historical angle.
       For foreign opinions of him, well he has his Honorary Knighthood, and national awards from a double-handful of european countries.  I don’t know what that means to current citizenry or administrations, however.

       Privately, I’m curious about the hasty WaveCrest Chairman-appointment [I’m guessing Maslov, a founder, VP, and former VA-area investment analyst, was the link]; about the amateur quality of his official online presence; about whether Clark’s PR folks (part of someone else’s larger PR team?) or Hlinko moved first; about the General’s previous political history and connections within our government (might as well start with the Clinton administration) and military leadership, particularly leading up to his time as SACEUR; about what he privately cares for.

Other references

Books of recent note

General Clark‘s Waging Modern War,
Ambassador Holbrooke
‘s To End a War (Largely about the Dayton Peace Accords, for which Gen. Clark was the chief military negotiator.  Chapter I has an amazing anecdote involving the Ambassador and the General.),
David Halberstam
‘s War In A Time Of Peace

Speeches and Interviews online:

video from U.Arkansas [4/17], 
transcripts from the Council on Foreign Relations, the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs [6/5], testifying before Congress about expanding NATO[4/8]…
interviews with Meet the Press [6/15], Buchanan and Press [6/18], …

Direct brain stimulation by monitor pulses
Thursday June 19th 2003, 1:26 am
Filed under: fly-by-wire

… controlled by, say, a program executed remotely via a browser.  highly frequency-dependent, suggesting a resonance effect; depends on the monitor; can induce a number of different reactions, including ptosis, clenched stomach, visual field distortion, and arousal.  An excerpt from the patent [one in a string of similar patents by the same inventor]:

Certain monitors can emit electromagnetic field pulses that excite a sensory resonance in a nearby subject, through image pulses that are so weak as to be subliminal. This is unfortunate since it opens a way for mischievous application of the invention, whereby people are exposed unknowingly to manipulation of their nervous systems for someone else’s purposes. Such application would be unethical and is of course not advocated. It is mentioned here in order to alert the public to the possibility of covert abuse that may occur while being online, or while watching TV, a video, or a DVD.

Well, tie me up and call me Daisy.  Did someone say Snowcrash?

Direct brain stimulation by monitor pulses …

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Lost in Translation: Becks and Posh
Sunday June 15th 2003, 3:31 pm
Filed under: international

Plastic has a fab piece on the transatlantic cultural divide.

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An Active Citizenry: Channels Between Government and Individuals
Sunday June 15th 2003, 4:03 am
Filed under: fly-by-wire

We need much better channels of communication b/t government and citizens, particularly right here in the old U. S. of A.  Everyone should have some firsthand experience of what their country is striving and fighting for, and some experience of performing serious public service for their nation in the company of a mob of others and directed by people who have chosen to devote their lives to the same.

I think a manadatory year of government service, following high school or naturalization and preceding gaining the right to vote, would make a great deal of sense.  Including intense physical and civics training in this service, regardless of whether it went on to involve the armed forces, wouldn’t be a bad idea either. 

People have been talking recently about the possible reinstatement of ‘the draft‘, or something quite different from drafts last century.  Here are some thoughts from a recent tacitus post:

What we need is two-three years of service between high school and college or directly after accepting US citizenship… combat vocations could remain volunteer… within that system.  For example, I’m uncomfortable with the reserves, but if service were a given, I would volunteer for combat in an instant. I’m sure there are other young men out there like me.

Those with particularly specific intelligence could serve out their time in the NSA or something, and those with a [pacific] conscience could serve their time in a supportive non-combat agency (work with NGO relief organizations in post-combat areas, etc).

The positive externalities associated with such a draft could be enormous–habitualized fitness, assimilation of immigrants, etc.  — Chris

And I can’t agree with this more: if we are to have a military, it should be a most honorable occupation, for people of all backgrounds and talents.

What needs to happen is an increase in recruiting. And I don’t mean just more ads. I mean an increase in aggressively promoting the Armed Forces as a honorable occupation.    — Rook

there’s a lot more to be said, and I don’t think a draft is what we need, even to solve the comparitively simple problem of an overextended military, but this is a good conversation to be having.

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Teaching old hounddogs new tricks
Friday June 13th 2003, 9:06 pm
Filed under: chain-gang

[This needs to be turned into a story about learning potential, and how communication between teachers and students changes over time.] 

It’s clear to me that a certain kind of learning potential is natural during youth, and has to be regained once one is more conscious of one’s surroundings [perhaps only if one falls from that state to begin with?  but nowadays most do].  Most of the methods people use to regain that learning zone are discipline- or activity-specific.  More general methods have a mythical aura about them — consider enlightenment, or hypnosis.  As Gerry Sussman likes to say, once you learn how to learn, you can do anything.  In any case, few people try to actively regain this ineffable quality; that doesn’t keep them from improving their ability to learn, or in suddenly rediscovering how to walk, sing, play, write, observe, react, or imitate naturally, an important first step.  
      Slashdot recently had an IT-centered discussion on ageism in the workplace and how much  the modern glow of youth is justified.  I’m sorry I didn’t see any world historians offering comparisons to other civilizations and times, but here are a few noteworthy quotes:

I’m a flight instructor, and it’s easy to see where the illusion that young people learn better/faster comes from. Despite the popular notion of today’s youth, they’re not as cynical or as questioning/probing of your instruction as adults are. As an example, if I tell a 16 year-old kid that when you bank the airplane to the right, there is an initial yaw to the left because of a phenomenon we call “adverse yaw,” he’ll probably say “OK” and correct for it on the controls. If I state it so simply to a 40 year-old student, he’ll ask why. So who has learned it better? The kid is immediately compensating for its effects, and is flying the airplane properly a bit sooner; but does he know why he’s doing so? The adult understands the reasons behind the correction; but has delayed implementing the knowledge because of the time spent questioning.

Over the course of learning any complex task, these moments add up to a perception that the adult isn’t learning as fast or as well as the younger person. In fact, they are. You simply have to tailor your training and your expectations for the difference in approach.
                            –delcielo, via
slashdot on ageism

Ken Williams, the founder of Sierra Online felt a missionary zeal in converting people to the belief that learning how to program a computer could change your life. Ken met Bob and Carolyn Box, who were an older married couple in their fifties. Bob was “…a former New Yorker, a former engineer, a former race car driver, a former jockey, and a former Guinness Book of World Records champion in gold panning.” When they both tried to get a job working for Sierra, Ken told them to “put up something on the screen using assembly language in thirty days”. According to how the story is told, they both became very able assembly language programmers. Roberta Williams (Ken’s wife) considered the Boxes “inspiring” and felt that learning how to program “rehabilitated their lives”.
                          — paraphrase of Steven Levy’s Hacker’s, via the same thread

My son and I started taking drum lessons 8 months ago – together. There is no comparison. While he may be more technical and able to do the marching snare roll, etc. I rock all over him on a kit. We both put in the same amount of practice time. 
      But I love the looks I get from the middle age women as I walk out of the lesson room. Which is probably the root of the problem. Most middle age folks don’t think someone their age should be learning new skills and definitely not having fun!
                         — Black-Man, posting to the same thread

I’ll be updating this post at some point, perhaps replacing it with a story-link.  For now, send me your thoughts.

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Stickies for Windows
Friday June 13th 2003, 3:13 am
Filed under: chain-gang

Thank God for Bart Taylor.  I had to install dotnetFX to run this, but for years I’ve been hoping someone would write a proper Stickies clone.

Stickies for Windows …

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