South Korea seems to have the broadband issue dialed, and now this.
As always, the smartest readers on the net point me in some new directions. In this case, our discussion of Strauss (elitest pig? or benevolant leadership?) has fleshed out some more resources. For those who want to dig deeper, or for those who want popular relevance, or even those who want to go meta, we have a link for you.


BusinessWeek with a review of Reefer Madness
Political chaos is connected with the decay of language…one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end.
--George Orwell


Finally, a history of the internet in timeline form.
Scott Rosenberg forwards a booklet from Edward Tufte further detailing his deconstruction and dismantling of PowerPoint culture. More on Scott's blog.
Slate chimes in on iTunes
David Brooks writes for The Atlantic that the sexist pig is proudly back in all his glory. From the overt misogyny of rap, to the crude toilet inspired humor of The Man Show and its ilk is a universe “free from the taint of polite opinion.”

The causes of this low-culture revival can be traced to the usual suspects.

Theories offered include a revolt by the Angry White Man to forced-feminization:
These men have not a hint of any quality that might make them attractive to progressive and mature women. Their world has been vacuumed free of empathy, sensitivity, and sophistication. It is as if millions of American men—many of them well educated—took a look at the lifestyle prescribed by modern feminism and decided, No thanks, we'd rather be pigs.

A knowing, post-modern ironic response to a P.C. cultural climate:
The men are making fun of themselves as much as they are degrading women. Besides, it's not reality. It's just a normal urge to flout convention, to have some bawdy fun. It doesn't mean anything.

What’s interesting to note is the relative lack of response from the cultural forces aligned against this dynamic. Feminism is mostly silent on the matter, unable (or afraid) to mount a counter-attack.
Feminists seem to know they are being toyed with. They don't want to appear to be earnest plodders in the face of hip, playful gestures, and they don't want to grant that anyone is more postmodern than they are.

And purveyors of high-culture are likewise disarmed. Other than the occasional scolding by public interest groups, and the much-ballyhooed ban on lad-mags by Wal-Mart, few have been able or willing to effectively counter this growing movement.


Verizon offering Wi-fi hotspots in phone booths in NY.

"Any place that you see Verizon pay phones could in the future be logical places for Verizon HotSpots," said James Otterbeck, senior vice president of emerging markets for Verizon.

It's heartening to see that the promise off Wi-fi is being rolled out in a business model that generates value for the consumer as well as the service provider.
The ascendancy of neo-conservativism has lead to a renewed interest in the roots of modern American conservatism. One of the most influential political philosophers of his, and subsequently our, time was Leo Strauss. A brilliant, complex, and at times contradictory proponent of a “new” worldview that actually is ancient. The Boston Globe writes:

Odd as this may sound, we live in a world increasingly shaped by Leo Strauss, a controversial philosopher who died in 1973. Although generally unknown to the wider population, Strauss has been one of the two or three most important intellectual influences on the conservative worldview now ascendant in George W. Bush's Washington. Eager to get the lowdown on White House thinking, editors at the New York Times and Le Monde have had journalists pore over Strauss's work and trace his disciples' affiliations. The New Yorker has even found a contingent of Straussians doing intelligence work for the Pentagon.

But who was Leo Strauss, and who has the best grasp of his views? The New Republic famously quipped that Straussians are one of the “top ten gangs of the Millennium.” Allan Bloom, Irving Kristol, his son Bill Kristol, and Shadia Drury have all made names for themselves by either espousing or debunking Straussian ideals.

Strauss believed that the pre-modern philosophers (Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle in particular) understood that inequality was a fundamental aspect of human affairs.

For Strauss, the modern liberal project of using the fruits of science and the institutions of the state to spread happiness to all is intrinsically futile, self-defeating, and likely to end in terror and tyranny. The best regime is one in which the leaders govern moderately and prudently, curbing the passions of the mob while allowing a small philosophical elite to pursue the contemplative life of the mind.

And his advocacy of a benign cabal of enlightened elites is perhaps his most controversial idea. His position on this matter, his willful embrace of obscurity, and the cultist following of his acolytes has fostered any number of conspiracy theories.

Janet Heer wonders as well:

But just how ''sinister'' was Leo Strauss himself? The answer depends on how a reader approaches his books. If you read Strauss with a well-disposed spirit, he can be interpreted as a genuine friend of American liberal democracy. He worked to create an elite that was strong, sober, and sufficiently free of illusions about the goodness of man to fight the totalitarian enemies of liberal democracy-be they fascists, communists, or Islamicist fundamentalists.

But if you read Strauss with a skeptical mind, the way he himself read the great philosophers, a more disturbing picture takes shape. Strauss, by this view, emerges as a disguised Machiavelli, a cynical teacher who encouraged his followers to believe that their intellectual superiority entitles them to rule over the bulk of humanity by means of duplicity. The worst thing you can do to Leo Strauss, perhaps, is to read his books with Straussian eyes

Google will soon offer distinct blog-related searches.


It's amazing to watch an urban legend being born. (and people are shocked that this journalistic climate creates a Jayson Blair?)
In an era marked by fear of crime, fear of terrorism, and fear of the tactics used to fight these fears, we are presented with another civil liberties conundrum; law enforcement’s use of GPS.

The Washington Supreme Court is about to rule whether it’s legal for the police to use a satellite global positioning tool placed on a suspect’s car without a warrant.

There is little disagreement about the facts of the case. William Bradley Jackson killed his 9 year old daughter, buried her in a shallow grave, and later went back to further conceal her. Before he returned to the grave the police placed a GPS device on his car and monitored his movements. He led them to his victim’s body.

Many law enforcement departments maintain that no warrant is needed since the car was driving “in plain sight”. It would be analogous to following the suspect in an unmarked police car.

The state Court of Appeals in Spokane agreed no warrant was needed.
The court's opinion last year said, "A law officer could legally follow Mr. Jackson's vehicles on public thoroughfares .... The GPS devices made Mr. Jackson's vehicles visible or identifiable as though the officers had merely cleaned his license plates, or unobtrusively marked his vehicles and made them plain to see."

Some are troubled by the potential for abuse.

"Do we really want the ability to track everybody all the time, without any suspicion, or without probable cause?" asked Doug Klunder, a Seattle attorney who wrote an amicus brief, or friend of the court, in the case on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington.


The Bush administration values allegiance and on that score is clearly willing to put its money where its mouth is. San Francisco Chronicle writer David Armstrong details how they are using economic carrots and sticks to payback debts for the Iraqi war. He writes that friend and foe now know the score:

They know it in France, a vociferous opponent of the Iraq war, where the Pentagon pulled U.S. aircraft out of next month's Paris Air Show and Secretary of State Colin Powell hinted at trade sanctions.
They know it in Singapore, a wartime ally, which signed a free trade agreement in a White House ceremony Tuesday, and in Chile, an Iraq war foe, whose free trade agreement has been pointedly delayed. And they know it in Australia, which dispatched commandos to Iraq and has seen its proposed free trade agreement with Washington put on the fast track and its prime minister feted at President Bush's Texas ranch.

Fareed Zakaria described an America as seen in the eyes of much of the world. In short, the U.S. is considered an “Arrogant Empire” by many. A nation that bullies other nations until they bend to its will. Some will surely see these new economic policies as an extension of this notion; a country intent on wielding its power in all its forms. Others, however, see economic engagement as an ultimately optimistic condition. Foreign affairs conducted through economic policy certainly is more desired than active hostilities. And the exchange of goods and services between two parties has long been considered one of the hallmarks of a developing and healthy familiarity.

One of the nations slated for greater economic engagement is Morocco, a moderate Muslim nation. It has been argued that reaching out to the middle is the surest way to win the Muslim street. Perhaps these new trade agreements are harbingers of a welcome return to more staid forms of diplomacy.