"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Shades of Gibson

Just saw this today on the BBCs reporter-blog:

The port of Umm Qasr is being de-mined by dolphins attached to cameras. Apparently they go down and see something suspicious, then come back and tell their handler there's something suspicious. He then gives them an explosive charge, they take it down, put it next to the suspicious object, come back, it blows up, and then they go down and look at it again!

It sounds implausible, but the Australians are using them, and everyone around here - including a very senior American commander - says it works. I hope to see it for myself when the Sir Galahad gets to Umm Qasr.

Shades of William Gibson and Jones, the smack-addicted navy-hardware-augmented dolphin in Johnny Mnemnonic. Conflict brings about all sorts of strange innovaion. Remember the remote-control rats? Once again the truth proves stranger than fiction.

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Albritton In Ankara

The correspondent I part-own has sent in his first dispatch from the field.

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Frank recently wrote me:

I knew I should have freaking printed it out! Ok, when I checked out the link earlier today there was a graphic depicting an outline of the United states that was filled in with the American flag. On the bottom of that graphic it said something like "This site has been hacked by the Clear Patriot (something something, it was like a five word patriotic sounding name)" And below that in big letters it said "God Bless Our Troops!" Scary. Really scary.

Josh, could you please explain to me what root is? Additionally, could you tell me what a "dos" attack is and/or put it on your site. I understand that it's important, I just don't know what it means.

Well, he wasn't seeing things. As per requested, here's a first draft of my explanation: information warfare for dummies. Please follow up with me on this anyone. What is unclear, what else do you want to know, what is good? Send me an email or post a comment.

Also, the Yellow Times (who contacted me in January for the purposes of having me re-publish some of their articles) have been shut down by their ISP for posting objectionable pictures, in particular the American POWs. This is just plain old pirivate-company censorship. This is the equivalent of a network refusing to run an ad; not an intrusive act of government but chilling nontheless.

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Coverage Redux

I was just phone-interviewed by a reporter from NPR doing a story about back-to-iraq.com, asking why I supported the site. Chris should be in Turkey by now, by the way. She said the piece would most likely be on all things considered tomorrow. I'm a little excited.

Also, Frank and I have been emailing about what's going on with aljzeera.net. Since I know I have a number of non-technical readers, I'll be posting a primer on internet hacking/information warfare shortly.

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Taking Action

Am I signaling my choice of tactics here? Today there is some pretty large civil disobedience going in Midtown, but I didn't go. Instead I threw $25 on the plastic towards Howard Dean. He's the Democratic candidate that appeals to me, and the main thing that they're worried about is being outspent in the primaries, so instead of blocking traffic I kicked his campaign some dough and told them I'd voulenteer. Dean's platform is pretty basic center/left -- health care, multilateral foreign policy, balanced budget -- but seeing him via CSPAN at the California Democratic Convention (you need broadband for this... Dean starts about the 24 minute mark) kind of turned me on. He concludes his speech with "I want my country back," which I've been saying quite a lot lately. It resonated.

Here's perhaps the most tragic solder's story I've yet seen. The whole thing about planning to move back home and get together with his childhood sweetheart really hits me in the heart. I'm afraid there will be a lot more of these in the coming weeks and months.

Last night I met up with the crew from The Quick Fix, which was really really a good feeling. It's more than three years since we started working together, and it had been more than four months since we'd last gathered as a group. We talked for about three hours about our lives and about the state of the world. While the project that originally brought us together has run its course, we still have a lot to say to one another. We're going to continue meeting to work for peace. More on that meeting later... it's a whole thing I want to write up.

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Ugly Business

Well, this is very bad news:

[The Marines] have new orders to treat Iraqi civilians, including women and children, as hostile until proven otherwise.

Best response I've heard is from the comments over on The Agonist: Who knew it might come to this? Pretty much everyone outside the White House, I think.

I haven't said it yet today, so here it is: these people have got to go. Team Bush needs to be benched. The current administration must not be allowed to steer the course of this nation for four more years.

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Outlandish Josh is Going Soft

As some of my friends have had the dubious honor of witnessing, I've been engaging in nausiatingly saccharine public behavior with this really lovely woman lately. Just to warn you, I don't think this is going to let up any time soon. She writes me this in an email, "i'm smiling like a kid who just got her first big wheel and am at the top of a big hill!" I dance a little jig in my living room. We're talking about artistic collaboration and traveling around together. Heady talk, unconscious and honest, the naggling bounds of doubt strain, snapping free as the protective armor of urbanity crashes useless to the floor. I'm becoming a softie.

Also, humor! The onion has done it again: Everyone. Must. Read. This. They really are america's finest news source.

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Hearts and Minds

The Guardian has an interesting bit of reportage on how the Marines are doing in Iraq. Choice quote:

A few miles from the bridge to the south lie the ruins of the ancient city of Ur, founded 8,000 years ago, the birth place of Abraham and a flourishing metropolis at a time when the inhabitants of north-west Europe were still walking round in animal skins.

Sgt Sprague, from White Sulphur Springs in West Virginia, passed it on his way north, but he never knew it was there.

"I've been all the way through this desert from Basra to here and I ain't seen one shopping mall or fast food restaurant," he said. "These people got nothing. Even in a little town like ours of twenty five hundred people you got a McDonald's at one end and a Hardee's at the other."

I've been hoping that perhaps some positive fallout of this war might be a closer alignment of Iraqi culture and ours, maybe some war brides, some Marines and Army boys who go over there and get their consciousness expanded. I was going to say "minds blown," but that's too close to "heads blown off," and I don't want any of that. Usually after a war there's an uptick in freethinking five to ten years later. The next decade is going to be interesting, and in spite of Everything, there are plenty of reasons to stay hopeful.

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I have some actual work to do today -- anyone who knows of good research about customer relations for life insurance using 800-numbeers and/or the internet, contact me -- so I'm just going to give y'all a few tasty links to chew on.

In the world of comics, Garry Trudeau has taken off the gloves, his last two comics are pretty openly critical of what's going on now. The rest of the "town hall" site is pretty cool too. Tom Tomorrow is always fresh, as is Ted Ralls, but Ward Sutton still hits the hardest.

Now for some paranoia-inducing off-beat sources of news. The site aeronautics.ru carries translations of russian websites that purportedly contain leaks from various intel sources over there. Debkafile stokes the engines of fear from Israel. Al Jazeera is still off the web thanks to a continuted DoS attack. If you're just looking for some up-to-the-minute coverage without putting on your tinfoil hat, I suggest the agonist. For a more political angle, read the comments on daily kos. If you're in need of a reprive, keep up with McDonald's smashing news at IsThatLegal.

And finally, your daily peek into the pro-war mindset: "If history—especially that of the Cold War—teaches us anything, it's that peace (if we take peace to simply mean "the absence of armed conflict") and justice have an annoying tendency of being mutually exclusive." That's right folks, war is justice.

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InfoWar is On

Al Jazeera's website has been under heavy Denial of Service attack since yesterday, when they launched their english-language version the AP is reporting. This is a deliberate attempt by someone to limit American access to information. If the NSA isn't involved, I'd be very surprised.

Another kind of info-war, the battle against apathy, is on as well. Many of my friends -- good friends, lovers -- are currently living in a kind of obstinant apathy/avoidance state. It a survival mode. If you really read the news, it's impossible not to be enraged. But what are you supposed to do when the blood boils? Our real chance to give these clowns the boot is 18 months away. What's the point of watching the news?

Well, if you mean the news like on TV, not much. But I think there is something to be said for staying informed. I'm going to start a running education file, something to turn people on to in the run up to the election, something that might help us with regime change here at home, which is really our only hope.

People cope in various ways. I asked my pal Dave the other day how his war has been going. His response was quite witty:

hollywood's producing some great interactive movies these days! every day around noon i grab some popcorn and beer, and cheer enthusiastically whenever i see something blow up. "Operation Iraqi Freedom" feels so *real*... with all the internet, television and radio saturation, it's 10 times more fun then that piddly "A.I." internet game a couple of years ago. hell, a whole bunch of "protesters" marched outside my window on saturday... those crazy kids are *really* getting into the fun. i think the plot's a tiny bit thin (there were some holes around that president's reasons for invasions... why'd the big country invade the little country, again?), but that's hollywood for you... putting up dozens of nifty explosions, gun fights and street riots in lieu of a decent script. ah well, it's all in good fun.

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