Archive for December, 1999


Why not?

What if you threw an apocalypse and no one came? I mean, you really put you heart and soul into hyping the destruction of the universe, and no one noticed.

You’d do what you always do, go out, have a little champagne and toast the first day of the rest of your years.

Predictions for a new Millennium.

  1. Purists will insist on celebrating it next year.
  2. Pragmatists will celebrate it both years. (Like me)
  3. Journalists both online and otherwise will engage in major futurist predictions and navel gazing. Roughly 1/10 of the predictions will be recognizably accurate. Navel gazers will end up annoying the rest of us.
  4. The world will continue to surprise and dismay us, Surprise us of the variety and progress that can be made, dismay us with history version 3.0.
  5. Freedom == prosperity. (Free speech, not free beer) Communites that become or remain free will be prosperous. The world is more free now than it has been since the dawn of civilization with the most dramatic changes occuring in the last century.
  6. Humans have a non zero probablilty of wiping themselves out before the end of the next millennium. Rest assured that ultimately, we will be our own worst enemy. Give any species enough rope…
  7. The earth will still be here a millennium from now.

So I ask for forgiveness for the past, and likewise grant forgiveness to those who ask. Lets not visit the sins of the father any more, but rather concentrate on the possibilities of the present. Be vigilant of evil, appreciative of art, and protective of freedom. And hope that we don’t repeat too many mistakes of history.

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Whine and Moan

It’s Back Up. This domain has been down for about 2 weeks due to a combination of a server meltdown, an ISP interruption, one christmas vacation, and the administrator (me) inserting the wrong dns info for the backup to work (just before vacation). Wow. It’s still on the backup, since the main server isn’t back up yet. That’s a story unto itself.

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Following up on the Seattle occupation, “WTO 2 weeks later” discusses some of the reasoning why I think that the WTO is not such a bad thing. It takes into account not only the protests, but also the economics driving the organization.

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WTO Thoughts, 2 weeks later.

I should say up front that my politics are all over the map. I’m a financial conservative, but socially, I’m rather liberal. Perhaps that describes a libertarian philosophy. I wouldn’t be surprised if my views are actually set out in some book somewhere, I just haven’t found it yet. I read three newspapers regularly, The Wall Street Journal, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and The Stranger (a local alternative weekly). Each paper has its point, although the PI’s point may lie somewhere in the comics section. I should also mention that I’ve read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged recently.

If we’re worried about the WTO destroying the world, we should think again. More precisely, we should think about where this country is leading.

We’re worried about the envrionment when the average passenger vehicle weight has risen since the gas crisis of the 70’s. The bloated 4 door land yacht has been replaced with bloated jacked up 4wd land yachts. We have soccer moms driving 3 and a half ton trucks. Ford has just came out with a SUV so big that the first person to get one in Oklahoma peeled the roof off going into their garage.

We’re worried about the effects of big business, yet we are currently participating in the year end orgy of consumerisim called the “Christmas Buying Season”. Angels we have Heard on High, Tell us to go out and BUY.

We’re worried about the WTO infringing on our sovereignty. We, as a people, are voluntarily ceeding our sovereignty every time there’s an election and someone doesn’t vote. We lose sovereignty every time that we hold an election for an uninformed electorate. And we’re worried about a global body that when they do finally agree on something, we ignore them anyway. Oh yeah, and by the way, we’d like them to impose labor and major envriomental laws on the developing countries. It’s a poor weapon that can’t point both ways.

Friends, the WTO is following us. It’s being pushed by the desire for global trade, but there’s one engine that has been desiring global trade these last couple of years, the consumer of last resort: the American consumer. We don’t care so long as it’s cheap.

Well, some of us.

There are enough vocal consumers that some companies have figured out that it’s economically advantageous to “do the right thing”. Victoria’s Secret pays their workers well because the consumers demand it. The get better workers for their trouble. Starbucks, the focus of some violent protest in Seattle, seems to be doing pretty well. They offer benefits for part time workers. (At least the one in Greenlake was advertising that while looking for help). They require a premium coffee product that allows for a more ecological cultivation than the lower grade coffees.

Corporations understand money. Their entire purpose for existence is to utilize capital to generate profit. You cannot have a sustainable corporation that does not seek profit; look at the government for examples. To expect a corporation to do the right thing is wishful thinking, unless there’s some economic reason that the right thing is a less expensive alternative.

Developing countries understand money. When the recipient is willing, investment is a good thing. New jobs tend to raise the existing wage scale in a developing economy. It moves countries beyond sustenence farming economies. Investment requires at least some degree of stability, so that there’s some hope of a return on the investment.

Despots understand money. Historically, the great quasi-governmental lending agencies have had the easiest terms. They lend money and they don’t get repaid. The money flows into the country, skips its intended recipients and heads straight into the pockets of those in power. We get a lot of flack on how the US is so unfair that a large percentage of the wealth is concentrated in the hands of the richest x% of the population. It could be a lot worse; that wealth could be concentrated into several familes. They’re not hard to find, Look for billionaires in countries where the average yearly income is measured in hundreds of dollars.

The WTO can not force the europeans to eat genetically modified food, (nor processed american cheese food, but I digress). The WTO can not force americans to go out and buy the biggest SUV we can find. The WTO can not force us to buy dolphin unsafe tuna. The WTO is powerless when compared to the consumer.

Not only is the WTO not such a bad thing, it’s better than the alternatives. While the WTO is not an open body, it’s far more visible than back room agreements that would take place in its absence.

Yes the envrionment is a mess. It got that way because there’s a species on this earth that doesn’t understand the costs of what they are doing. We keep looking around for the next inexhaustable resource. The envrionment does not add up on any balance sheet that I know of, but at some point we are going to notice that existence is becoming precarious. Inexpensive clean water supplies require unspoiled land. Oops. Forests filter our air. Oops. Green space moderates asphalt jungle temperatures. Well, warm is good, right? It’s getting so the snow on Mt Rainer never is white, at least when viewed from Seattle. But this doesn’t mean that the WTO is any more or less culpable than the people that drive it.

If there is to be change, it’s going to happen from the people. Without the support of the people, there is no reason for our leaders to follow. Without consumers, there’s no reason for trade.

Well, that’s not quite correct. Change will happen anyway. We just might not like the direction it’s going.

Stay tuned for next week, when we try to figure out what happens when “Earth Shrugs”.

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Notify Me

Attached to this message is the config.mainresponder.callbacks.addMessage.emailReplies script. Large portions of this script were snagged from manilaSuite.callbacks.newStoryCallback. This script requires mainresponder and probably frontier 6.1, as there were a lot of main responder callbacks added at that stage.

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Commentary Today

A new quickie: “Notify Me” script to notify a poster when someone replies to a posting in the discussion group.

The WTO has been weighing heavily on me recently due to the debacle that visited my sleepy little town last week. “Seattle and the state of the occupation” is a short take on the effect of the violence. I’m still not sure I understand all the virulence that protestors have for the organization. I’m sure that I will get some email on it though.

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Chronological Order


I have tested Thread View #2 and am considering rolling it out onto my Manilia server. I like it very much.

One jarring discovery that thread view reinforced is this: Userland DGs present messages at the same outline level in reverse chronological order, more recent messages are above previous messages. I understand why Userland would make this design decision, but it is NOT intuitive, especially when responses nest correctly below the message they are responding too. Below means later!

This is obvious using threadView. I think you got it right on this one and I would like to see Userland change the DG to reflect the actual chronological order.

What do you think?


PS, do you get a copy of this response mailed to you? Is that a function of Manila, or your mailserver software?

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Seattle and the state of the occupation

As of Thursday, things seem to be returning to normal.

Wednesday night, the police were chasing residents through the streets of Capitol Hill, gassing and setting off concussion grenades till 2 in the morning. A city council member got gassed trying to mediate. The gas was thick enough that it was drifting into apartments off the gound floor. It started as a generalized WTO protest, and ended as a peaceful protest by residents who wanted the cops to leave. Well, peaceful on the resident’s side.

It was odd to go to Michael’s place on Capitol Hill, see a gas mask, and think that it was an entirely resaonable thing to have. Michael was gassed a couple of times near his apartment, and had a pellet gun pointed at him by police while he was standing on his front steps. By the way, gas masks are now illegal down town, much to the dismay of the president of gasmasks.com.

Another city council member was pulled from his car by police while he was on his way to a reception.

Thursday, there were people walking around Capitol Hill with signs saying “I have no trust in the Seattle PD”. Thursday night’s protest was peaceful on both sides. The protest outside the court house was peaceful.

Apparently Seattle has recalled mayors before.

Quotes from the paper:

“The residents were singing christmas carols. The tear gas came during
silent night”

Brett Smith, 10 year veteran of the PD:
“We’re so upset or squad of 10 or 11 wants to do our own protest march when this is all over.”

The thing that scared me the most was how quickly the scene went from protest to a state of emergency. As I prepared to go to Capitol hill on business Thursday, I made sure that I had phone numbers stored seperately from my cell phone, in case I got caught up and randomly arrested. The slide from normalcy to police state was too comfortable for my taste.