Thai food

went out last night with Yuka and Akiko and Kuri from work – we went for Thai food at Kaffir Lime, one of my favorite restaurants in Tokyo.
(If you go there, be sure to try the “Crispy Fried Egg Spicy Salad” as an appetizer. Trust me, it’s wonderful.)

My laptop seems to have forgotten that it has USB ports, so I’m having trouble importing pictures… Harrumph.

Afterwards, we went up to Good Day Cafe for a drink and sat in the back where they have a DJ and show old movies. Pretty cool place…

Please Help

Imagine for a minute being dragged to the center of your town and buried up your neck in sand.
Terrified, unable to move, you watch as your neighbors gather around you in a big circle, not to free you, but to throw stones at your head until you die.

Imagine that your only crime was having a baby without being married.

That’s what’s going to happen to Amina Lawal next month, unless her government intervenes and upholds the international Human Rights agreements that they have signed.

Right now, you can go to Amnesty International’s website and sign their petition and show the Nigerian government that the world is watching.

Please sign the petition and let others know. Please put it on your blog if you have one.

Doing this has saved lives in the past. It just might save Amina Lawal.
There is very little time before she will be killed, please do it now.
Thanks.

Lessons in how to lie about Iraq

Digging through my Technorati Link Cosmos last night, I came across a link to my site from fredshouse.net. (Cool thing, technorati, I don’t check it enough.)
One article I found there, posted by Gene, was a ref to an article by the musician Brian Eno that has some interesting observations on propaganda.

In the wake of the events of 11 September 2001, it now seems clear that the shock of the attacks was exploited in America. According to Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber in their new book Weapons of Mass Deception , it was used to engineer a state of emergency that would justify an invasion of Iraq. Rampton and Stauber expose how news was fabricated and made to seem real. But they also demonstrate how a coalition of the willing – far-Right officials, neo-con think-tanks, insanely pugilistic media commentators and of course well-paid PR companies – worked together to pull off a sensational piece of intellectual dishonesty. Theirs is a study of modern propaganda.

Being somewhat isolated, I’m perhaps a bit less subject to whatever propoganda might be floating around, especially the blurring of the responsibilities for September eleventh. Yet people I know who *should* know better have told me that it is important to remove Saddam Hussein because of what he did on 9/11.

I might feel the same way if I had been subjected to the barrage of information and mis-information being injected into the American consciousness.

I have no doubt that this blurring is intentional. Was the greatest lesson learned in Viet Nam that you have to control the ‘spin’ back home?

We’re now watching a short, triumphant victory in Iraq turn into a long, bloody streetfight with a group that has nothing to lose. This has gone beyond being something that you “win” and turned into something like Israel and Palestine, where there will be violence as long as there is anyone capable of filling a bottle with gasoline and a rag, or picking up a rock.

How do you justify losing a few soldiers a week in Iraq with no visible gains or advances in “Freedom”? What is freedom, anyway? How do we know when the Iraqis are free? When they hold democratic elections?
{

SAMARRA, Iraq — U.S. military commanders have ordered a halt to local elections and self-rule in provincial cities and towns across Iraq, choosing instead to install their own handpicked mayors and administrators, many of whom are former Iraqi military leaders.
}

(Or do you show the public the annual report of the Halliburton company or Chevron and say “this is why an Iraqi cab driver put a bullet in the back of your son’s head”? )

Sadly, I think the only way to keep up public support is to either win this thing by killing every “potential terrorist”, or to keep up the percieved need for this struggle by allowing more and more terrorist attacks to occur. If a bus filled with schoolchildren were to explode on Broadway and it was shown to be Islamic terrorists, you could probably convince the public that the use of tactical nuclear weapons on {enemy of the week} is not only justified, but prudent.

You could also let these things happen offshore, but close to home: Nightclubs blowing up in Bali isn’t really enough motivation for most people to hate enough. But what if a popular club in Cancun or Bermuda was levelled by a car bomb, this time filled not with Australian tourists, but American? Targets like that are better, because people would lay the blame not with the American police and FBI, but directly at the terrorists. (Mexican police, after all, are bad movie caricatures to many Americans, hardly to be expected to be able to thwart the likes of Saddamma Bin Laden.)

An important distinction I’d like to make about what I’m saying here is that I don’t believe that the United States War Machine needs to do these things. (I still like to think that on some level they must still posess some bit of humanity.)

What I’m saying is that the United States War Machine needs these things to happen. and as we’re seeing, that’s easy enough, if they are made to hate us as much as we have been made to hate them.

Who the hell *are* you people??

;-)
I was looking at my logs last night and I saw that my traffic has quadrupled.
The number of comments is about the same as ever, but so many more people seem to be reading. Strange.

Anyway, welcome. (Whoever you are…)

The server is really due for a rebuild. It’s running RedHat 7.1, with every concievable patch applied and all sorts of software upgraded. After a while, updating gets to be a very complicated thing. I was trying to upgrade the Python language and it seems that so many things rely upon it, it would be much quicker to start clean with a new disk and re-install. (Don’t worry, those of you with sites on my server, your stuff will be safe if I decide to do it.) I was trying to install a “wiki”, which is a kind of collaborative site that lets anyone edit and something I upgraded broke some of the picture galleries. Upgrading the gallery program for each site seemed to do the trick and I think most of the sites are back to normal. I think. The music site is still down, but that needs a major rebuild and re-organization of where I store the music files. I started that with a 60GB disk a while back – when that got full, I added a 120GB and made a lot of symbolic links. I need to take a day and get them in order. (Not a high priority, since the music server is really only for me… No, you can’t have an account.)

I’ve really got to start looking at increased disk space in general. I was working on some video on my iBook this morning and it gave me a “DskFul” error. Oh.
I pretty religiously dump off any extra files to a 120GB firewire disk, but it still fills pretty quickly. The main problem is digital pictures – I generally take 100-1000MB of photos *every day*. That fills up things pretty quickly. I guess I should build a firewire RAID array that I can expand as needed. But then, if I want to use it from the web server, it’s gotta be on the lan, which means that it’s got to be powered up. My electricity bills are already high enough. Maybe I should look at those “Wake on Lan” network cards and motherboards that can spring to life as needed. Or just build something capable of powering down the disks to save juice.

Then there’s the iBook itself. I wonder if I can just open it up and pop in a bigger disk the way I have with other laptops. It just went out of warranty, so I can’t see a downside. A quick google shows a page that explains how. Got to think on that a bit. A nice 80GB would be good. (For a while…)

A weak tie comes undone

death.jpg

A couple of days a go, Mike Lea, aka Mazeone from our IRC channel #joiito committed suicide.

I’ve been in a strange, sort of shocked, state for the past hour since reading about it, mostly because I don’t know what to feel.

He and I weren’t friends. He was someone I would have said “Oh, yeah, that guy…”

I was used to seeing his nickname in the channel list and may have talked to him on occasion, though we weren’t so close that we’d ‘shout’ a ‘hey’ to eachother when the other arrived.

But that’s what IRC is like – you’re only a few comments or conversations away from a new friendship or a new job. Loose, elastic ties that sometimes solidify into real-world relationships.

I think about the job I have now, which came about after I dropped a casual line into the channel saying that I hated the one I was at.

I think about Boris who was just another guy from the channel that I didn’t really know, who wound up staying on our spare futon for a few days on his trip to Tokyo. Now I consider him a friend.

I think about Karl and Steph who are better known as Cow and Sniffles on #joiito – people I got to know and respect through IRC.

I think how weak these ties we make are, yet how little effort it takes to to make them real.

I think about what a terrible, senseless shame it is that Mike Lea didn’t reach out to someone, somewhere, somehow.

Rest in peace, Mike.

Sunburned

Yuka, Satoshi, Naho, Andrew, Yurika, her dad and I went fishing yesterday off Enoshima in a boat that Satoshi chartered and now I’m quite sunburned.
We caught dozens of Saba, which I think are mackarel and took a bunch of pictures, but today I forgot my little adapter and therefore can’t upload them.

Tonight’s going to be abother PC-Free night, so it will have to wait until tomorrow…

Koh & Gen

kohichi-gen.jpg
[[[Kohichi Aoki and Gen Kanai of Sony at the Pink Cow for the Weblogger’s MeetUp.]]]

Last night, Gen brought along his friend Koh to the meetup –
Gen is one of those people I’ve been kind of “peripherally aware” of for some time that I’m just now getting to know a bit better.

That happens a lot with blogs – you read a lot of pages a day and notice that some sites you’ve been to before, some name or alias becomes familiar, someone’s style of writing or photography just sort of fits with what you want to be looking at. Then, when you meet them, your reaction is like “Oh – you’re *that* guy…”

Hopefully, you get to then sit down with the people who write the blogs you read and get to gain a better sense of who they are…
(At least for me, that is – I get so distracted in crowds and large parties – I much prefer to focus over a dinner or drinks and figure out who someone really is.)

So Gen & Koh, consider this post an open invitation to grab a couple of beers or dinner some time…

Ethical Question

I was just wondering something:
If I go out and buy a CD of music that I like and find that it won’t play in my system because of copy protection technology, can I ethically (or legally) go onto one of the peer-to-peer file sharing networks like Kazaa and download the MP3s of the songs?

I have 2 devices capable of playing an actual CD. One is my laptop, an Apple iBook and the other is an iMac, neither of which are capable of playing copy-protected CDs. So if I find that this is the case with a CD I legally bought, can I go to the net and get those very same tracks and store them on my laptop or iPod or whatever? (Of course, I wouldn’t re-share them, just use them the way I would any of the other music I listen to.)

You see, when I buy a CD, I immediately ‘rip’ it and then put the original onto the shelf with the others, keeping it from getting scratched or damaged. I have a server for myself that has thousands of songs from my CDs that I can listen to in any order I like. The original CD for me, is just the delivery mechanism as well as proof that I bought it.

Today I saw a CD I wanted and had to skip over it because it was copy protected. They lost the sale. Afterwards, I was thinking that I could just buy it, then download… Hmmm…

So what do you say? Ethical? Legal?

Osram Dulux Mini

When I’m packing up my bag to go to work in the morning, I tend to take a *lot* of stuff.

Laptop, of course, camera, extra lenses, spare memory cards, adapters, wires, spare contact lenses, big Sharpie Marker, iPod and one new thing that I’ve found to be especially handy – the Osram Dulux Mini flourescent light.

dulux.jpg

This is a really great little light – it always seems to be just what I need to flood a bit of light where I’m working, be it behind a desk plugging in cables, or reading a map or using my laptop on a plane. I used to like those MagLites that use 2 AA batteries, but for most things, the MagLite’s beam is too narrow.
I’ve found that it’s expecially handy inside the bag, when I’m digging around for something way down at the bottom. It’s good on batteries and works well with rechargeables.

I bought mine in Kita Aoyama, but you should be able to find them for sale on the web, too.
Here’s a pretty in-depth review also.