Minutiae
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"Chuck Norris doesn't read books; he stares them down until he gets the information he wants out of them."
- ChuckNorrisFactsdotcom

Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Well maybe
this issue is about to become much more interesting, (or partisan,) and very Harrison Ford. Either we're about to hear some really dramatic stuff, or someone's about to air very sensitive material about current ongoing intelligence operations during a time of war for partisan/personal reasons. I'll reserve judgement until then. For every asshole with a grudge over promotion there's someone agonizing over a real injustice. At this point, who knows?

More on the uber-complex legal/technical aspects of the issue. The comments are an education in themselves. In this day and age you have much less of a right to privacy than you think you do. If you really want to be sure that the legal/practical hurdles of getting at your secrets are as high as they can be, you have to pretty much eschew modern technology. (If you really want to be hardcore you'd need to rely on a cipher contained entirely inside the skulls of yourself and the recipient.) Paper and in person, not bits over a wire. It's harder both practically and legally to enter a person's home and search their papers than it is to peek at communications that are routed here there and everywhere by lord knows who. I would have thought this was obvious to anyone with a brain in their head, even if they never watched the X files. Duh, don't talk about hookers and blow over electronic communication networks.

posted by Rachel 1/04/2006
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Yeeeegh. Two dead from bird flu in Turkey. That's spitting distance from europe. It's only a matter of time folks. Pray that it holds off at least until next year.

posted by Rachel 1/04/2006
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Victory for 'beachgoers and plumbers'
The question is whether dropping trou will now come to be as blase as giving the finger. What a society we live in, that many adult professional people have the time and money to spend pursuing an issue like this.

posted by Rachel 1/04/2006
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That's a
smart cat.

posted by Rachel 1/04/2006
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Hysterical beyond all measure. Turn up the volume and go for full-screen, though use headphones if you're at work.

(Yoinked from Bekki.)

posted by Rachel 1/04/2006
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This is the best article I've read in the NY Times in years, if not ever. If you want to really think about globalization and what it means, it's a can't miss. It is long though.
That liberal pluralists are hostile to certain authoritarian ways of life - that they're intolerant of radical intolerance - is sometimes seen as kind of self-refutation. That's a mistake: you can care about individual freedom and still understand that the contours of that freedom will vary considerably from place to place. But we might as well admit that a concern for individual freedom isn't something that will appeal to every individual. In politics, including cultural politics, there are winners and losers - which is worth remembering when we think about international human rights treaties. When we seek to embody our concern for strangers in human rights law, and when we urge our government to enforce it, we are seeking to change the world of law in every nation on the planet. We have declared slavery a violation of international law. And, in so doing, we have committed ourselves, at a minimum, to the desirability of its eradication everywhere. This is no longer controversial in the capitals of the world. No one defends enslavement. But international treaties define slavery in ways that arguably include debt bondage, and debt bondage is a significant economic institution in parts of South Asia. I hold no brief for debt bondage. Still, we shouldn't be surprised if people whose incomes and style of life depend upon it are angry.

It's the same with the international movements to promote women's equality. We know that many Islamists are deeply disturbed by the way Western men and women behave. We permit women to swim almost naked with strange men, which is our business, but it is hard to keep the news of these acts of immodesty from Muslim women and children or to protect Muslim men from the temptations they inevitably create. As the Internet extends its reach, it will get even harder, and their children, especially their girls, will be tempted to ask for these freedoms, too. Worse, they say, we are now trying to force our conception of how women and men should behave upon them. We speak of women's rights. We make treaties enshrining these rights. And then we want their governments to enforce them.

Like many people in every nation, I support those treaties; I believe that women, like men, should have the vote, should be entitled to work outside their homes, should be protected from the physical abuse of men, including their fathers, brothers and husbands. But I also know that the changes these freedoms would bring will change the balance of power between men and women in everyday life. How do I know this? Because I have lived most of my adult life in the West as it has gone through just such a transition, and I know that the process is not yet complete.

So liberty and diversity may well be at odds, and the tensions between them aren't always easily resolved. But the rhetoric of cultural preservation isn't any help. Again, the contradictions are near to hand. Take another look at that Unesco Convention. It affirms the "principle of equal dignity of and respect for all cultures." (What, all cultures - including those of the K.K.K. and the Taliban?) It also affirms "the importance of culture for social cohesion in general, and in particular its potential for the enhancement of the status and role of women in society." (But doesn't "cohesion" argue for uniformity? And wouldn't enhancing the status and role of women involve changing, rather than preserving, cultures?) In Saudi Arabia, people can watch "Will and Grace" on satellite TV - officially proscribed, but available all the same - knowing that, under Saudi law, Will could be beheaded in a public square. In northern Nigeria, mullahs inveigh against polio vaccination while sentencing adulteresses to death by stoning. In India, thousands of wives are burned to death each year for failing to make their dowry payments. Vive la différence? Please.
The rest of the article is just as thought-provoking.

posted by Rachel 1/04/2006
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