Xark began as a group blog in June 2005 but continues today as founder Dan Conover's primary blog-home. Posts by longtime Xark authors Janet Edens and John Sloop may also appear alongside Dan's here from time to time, depending on whatever.
Mama Brown's fried chicken. Hot fush. Turkey legs. Salisbury steaks. Rice: red, dirty and white. Cornbread. Biscuit. Macaroni and cheese and butterbeans and blackeyed peas and green beans with bacon, diced yams and bread puddings.
And the chicken today? Perfect. Perfect light crisp brown perfect thigh and drumstick. No heavy seasoning. No absurd breading.
Hot food line. Piggly Wiggly. Meeting Street. Charleston.
You can dress this stuff up as haute cuisine. You can put down place settings, offer up real flatware, send out waiters in white jackets.
I can't explain it to you, but it has a powerful deja vu. When I got up
this morning and read the USA Today headline, I thought the future had
been a little more evenly distributed. Now we've all got some...
The interesting thing about meta-projects in the sense in which I
used them [in the NYT editorial] is that I don't think species know
what they're about. I don't think humanity knows why we do any of this
stuff. A couple hundred years down the road, when people look back at
what the NSA has done, the significance of it won't be about terrorism
or Iraq or the Bush administration or the American Constitution, it
will be about how we're driven by emerging technologies and how we
struggle to keep up with them...
I'm particularly enamored of the idea of a national security
"bubble..." Technologies don't emerge unless there's someone who thinks
he can make a bundle by helping them emerge...
I've been watching with keen interest since the first NSA
scandal: I've noticed on the Internet that there aren't many people
really shocked by this. Our popular culture, our dirt-ball street
culture teaches us from childhood that the CIA is listening to *all* of
our telephone calls and reading *all* of our email anyway.
I keep seeing that in the lower discourse of the Internet, people
saying, "Oh, they're doing it anyway." In some way our culture believes
that, and it's a real problem, because evidently they haven't been
doing it anyway, and now that they've started, we really need to pay
attention and muster some kind of viable political response.
It's very hard to get some people on-board because they think it's a fait accompli...
I think it's [the X-Files, Nixon wiretapping, science fiction].
I think it's predicated in our delirious sense of what's been happening
to us as a species for the past 100 years. During the Cold War it was
almost comforting to believe that the CIA was reading everything...
In the very long view, this will turn out to be about how we
deal with the technological situation we find ourselves in now. We've
gotten somewhere we've never been before. It's very interesting. In the
short term, I've taken the position that it's very, very illegal and I
hope something is done about it.
For the record, roughly 18 months ago I was touring a defense department engineering facility with its director, and I noticed diagram of a "social web" posted in a work area. The director offered me a layman's introduction to the work these government scientists were conducting, but because of my work I was already familar with the concepts. NORA (Non-Obvious Relationship Analysis). Total Information Awareness. Datamining. Discovery Informatics.
When I casually asked the director a couple of more pointed questions about the project, he politely steered me toward another part of the facility. But I have no doubt that this work is still being done.
It is becoming unprecedentedly difficult for anyone, anyone at all, to keep a secret.
the age of the leak and the blog, of evidence extraction and link
discovery, truths will either out or be outed, later if not sooner.
This is something I would bring to the attention of every diplomat,
politician and corporate leader: the future, eventually, will find you
out. The future, wielding unimaginable tools of transparency, will have
its way with you. In the end, you will be seen to have done that which
I'm a latecomer to Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code, so it wasn't until I hit Chapter 55 at roughly 1:30 a.m. Monday that the reason for all the fuss finally struck me.
For all the controversy, I found neither the novel's dramatic premises (that Mary Magdalene was Jesus's wife; that she bore his child; that an elaborate series of secret societies arose to protect that royal lineage) nor its elaborate claims to proof particularly explosive. To me these were just plot devices, the backstory to a clever thriller.
Instead, in a stroke of supreme irony, the true threat to orthodox authority contained within The DaVinci Code is hidden in plain sight -- and it really has nothing to do with the Divine Feminine.
Justice Department attorneys said in their legal brief that the
legality of the president's actions could only be properly judged by
understanding "the specific threat facing the nation and the particular
actions taken by the president to meet that threat."
understanding is not possible without revealing to the very adversaries
we are trying to defeat what we know about them and how we are
proceeding to stop them," they wrote.
It's a busy day, but just cleaning out my e-mail Inbox provided me with so many interesting items that I figured a links post might be in order.
From Alternet: Top 10 Signs of the Impending U.S. Police State. 1. The Internet clampdown; 2. "The Long War"; 3. The Patriot Act; 4. Prison camps; 5. Touch-screen voting machines; 6. Signing statements; 7. Warrantless wiretapping; 8. "Free speech zones"; 9. High-ranking whistleblowers; 10. The CIA shakeup.
Call it whatever you like. Argue with points. But consider the possibility that this is some serious shit.
Sometimes there's a perception lag between the actual erosion of a business
and how that erosion is seen by investors. Certain newspaper executives are
going out and investing on other newspapers. I don't see it. It's hard to make
money buying a business that's in permanent decline. If anything, the decline is
Given the context of the "War on Terrorism", we are entering a phase of
institutional history beyond the military-industrial complex President
Eisenhower warned against. The democratic electoral process now exists
only in the shadows of a corporate state led by intelligence operatives
and special operations forces throughout the world. As a leading
advocate of this "supremacy by stealth", Robert Kaplan, has written in
the Atlantic Monthly [July-August 2003] that "the best information
strategy is to avoid attention-getting confrontations in the first
place and to keep the public's attention as divided as possible. We can
dominate the world only quietly: off camera, so to speak."
This morning Yahoo
and eBay announced a multi-year strategic alliance that will position them
against common threats: Google and Microsoft. The
deal -- under which Yahoo will provide all the graphical ads on eBay, eBay's
PayPal division will handle Yahoo's online wallet service, and the two
companies jointly develop click-to-call telephone services -- confirms recent
speculation the two companies would pair up to better compete with the
Google-AOL alliance and Microsoft, which is still going stag. Indeed, it was
just Monday that JP Morgan published a report saying the two made a cute couple.
"A partnership or merger between eBay and Yahoo is strategically feasible," the
report explained (PDF).
"A combined company would have the leading position in auctions, communications,
payments, graphical advertising, audience reach, and geographic breadth."
For eBay, hooking up with Yahoo will greatly reduce its dependence on Google
referrals as a source of traffic at a time when the search juggernaut is
nibbling at eBay's business with its free online-classified service, Google
Base. For Yahoo, it's a means of extending its sponsored search and advertising
to eBay's legions of shoppers. A win-win, I think.
Or, from a different perspective: Everybody is picking sides, and great swaths of tech money, power and creativity are being leveraged in an enormous, high-stakes game. Winner takes the future.
In essence, the system collects anyone who links to an AP story and puts the blog post URL into an automated "Who's Blogging?" directory attached to each story. The advantage to readers? You can find out what people are saying about a topic in something that approaches real time. The advantage to bloggers? By blogging on what's in the news, and linking to it, you can build traffic to your site.
The WaPo certainly got its share of traffic out of Xark because of this feature: Given the choice between linking to an NYT story and a WaPo story, I always linked to the WaPo story. Doing so meant more people would read what I had to say.
The problem? Technorati is a beautiful thing, but it isn't what it says it is. Technorati misses a lot, and just because you blog on one of its AP URLs doesn't automatically mean it's going to find you. Then again, where will this system be in a year? Probably an awful lot closer to the goal.
Rumor has it that a certain Texas congressman, in need of legal defense funds and some sympathy, will be performing in a new musical production. Apparently, however, the producers of the show, described as the "feel-good musical of the year" by one critic, have no plans to be a part of Spoleto.
"It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress."-- Mark Twain
Let's just get a few things straight:
1. In the matter of Rep. William Jefferson, a congressman from Louisiana, his fellow Democrats should make sure that Jefferson is assured his day in court, and then they should throw this corrupt scumbag under a bus.
Jefferson, with stacks of bribery payoffs hidden in his freezer (literally "cold cash"), has conveniently (from a GOP perspective) reminded the electorate that corruption is a bipartisan disease. So if the Democrats want to make a point about the culture of corruption in the DeLay House, they might want to start by dealing harshly with one their own.
2. In the matter of the FBI raid on Jefferson's congressional office, for which the FBI obtained a warrant: Screw Congress.
On Tuesday, Democrats joined Republicans to express their concern for the one thing they can all agree upon: They want to be above the law. The raid on Jefferson's office is believed to be the first search of a congressional office in the institution's 219-year history, and that precedent was all that seemed to matter to Congressmen on Tuesday. Rather than expressing outrage at the cheap sleaziness of Jefferson's sellout, Congressional leaders expressed alarm that an agency of the executive branch (the FBI) could impose its authority on the legislative branch.
Said House Speaker Dennis Hastert, an Illinois Republican: "My opinion is that (the FBI) took the wrong path."
Listen: When we elect someone to Congress, it is not our intent to give that person diplomatic immunity. Said Senate Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid: "When people commit crimes, they should be prosecuted, whether that person is a member of Congress or driving a cab or a lawyer some place." Well, duh.
There are going to be more criminal scandals involving this Congress, and Hastert, et al, know this. With the FBI now willing to challenge the sanctity of congressional offices, it looks like our lawmakers are going to have to find another place to hide their incriminating evidence.
Is there a separation of powers issue here? Perhaps. But so long as the warrants are obtained via proper channels, and so long as there is judicial oversight, then any abuses of investigatory power should be identifiable and correctable. As we've said about the NSA eavesdropping story: the issue isn't law enforcement, but whether the government abides by its own laws.