Updated: 5/16/2006; 11:47:10 AM.

Ken Novak's Weblog
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daily link  Saturday, June 05, 2004

N. Korea bans mobile phones: "North Korea has banned mobile phones only 18 months after allowing them to be introduced there, and the already isolated country is building a barbed-wire fence along its border with China to prevent smuggling, news reports said [3 jun 04]..  There were some 20,000 mobile phone subscribers in November 2003, a year after the service began, Yonhap said citing a report in a pro-Pyongyang newspaper from Japan, the Chosun Sinbo. "  10:58:16 PM  permalink  

Camera Phones Help Buyers: Brilliant - use a cell phone camera to scan bar codes in stores to get info about a product.  "With the camera-phone scanner, "you can aggregate a lot of different information from different sources just by scanning something. You can do that on your own or at a desktop computer, but then you have to look up a bunch of sources and go looking for all the individual sites and so on."  You might get competitive price offers, consumer reviews, or dietary information about a product.  Other codes (named QR for quick response, or Semacode) are in use in Japan for transferring business card info, getting directions and local event info, etc.  10:49:23 PM  permalink  

Cellsocket: "Connect the Cellsocket to any regular wired phone through Cellsocketís phone jack. Drop your cell phone into the Cellsocket, and start making and receiving phone calls from any desktop, cordless, or extension phone in your home or office using your wireless phone service."  The conventional phone is more comfortable (e.g., may have speakerphone) and the cellsocket's antenna improves reception while recharging the phone.  Interesting for people who do without a conventional line and only use cell or VOIP phones.  10:37:37 PM  permalink  

Fund For Peace Study Concludes that Iraq Has Descended Into a Failed State Syndrome: "A report released today by The Fund for Peace (FfP) concludes that instead of addressing the fundamental requirements of rebuilding the state, post-war policies undertaken by the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) focused primarily on completing the process of regime change. Consequently, Iraq has deteriorated further into a failed state syndrome.

Dr. Pauline H. Baker, author of the report, describes a failed state syndrome as a condition in which a number of trends reinforce each other to produce spiraling conflict that the country has little or no independent capacity to stop. The report concludes that, a year after the invasion, Iraq is as shattered as it was the day that Saddam Hussein was overthrown, the main difference being that organized militias and terrorist groups have gained a foothold they did not have before.

"We have to get the facts straight before we can get the policy straight," said Dr. Baker. "Currently, there are three major fictions that are being used to describe the transition in Iraq. The first is analytical - that Iraq could become a failed state, when, in fact, it already has failed. The second is legal - that the occupation will end on June 30, when, in fact, the occupation will end when foreign troops are withdrawn and capable Iraqi security forces take over. And the third is political - that after June 30, the sovereign government of Iraq and the people will be allied with the United States. In fact, the interim government will not have full sovereignty and the people are increasingly fearful and resentful of the U.S. presence."..

The report maps out five future scenarios. It states that, if current trends continue, Iraq is likely headed toward a Lebanon- like outcome, with civil war and possible intervention by neighboring states. To avoid this or other undesirable outcomes, the U.S. must work more closely with the U.N. to build a wider international coalition prepared to provide two years of peacekeeping forces and five to ten years of economic support in a long-term plan aimed at sustainable security. Currently, no planning is being done beyond the next election and other nations are reluctant to provide troops for U.N. peacekeeping, even over the next six months leading to elections. That will be a critical make-or-break period, when the tipping point will occur, determining whether Iraq will move toward constitutionalism or chaos.

Dr. Baker urged policy-makers to separate truth from fiction. She warned that, "fictional accounts have led to false assumptions, misplaced expectations and misguided policies in the past. They will do so in the future, if we are not careful."

  10:23:32 PM  permalink  

Rumsfeld expresses doubt: "The United States and its allies are winning some battles in the terrorism war but may be losing the broader struggle against Islamic extremism that is terrorism's source, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Saturday. The troubling unknown, he said, is whether the extremists - whom he termed "zealots and despots" bent on destroying the global system of nation-states - are turning out newly trained terrorists faster than the United States can capture or kill them. "It's quite clear to me that we do not have a coherent approach to this," Rumsfeld said at an international security conference. ..

On Saturday he went further, saying that while terrorists must be confronted, the bigger problem is the extremist Islamic ideology that produces them. "What you have is a civil war in that religion where a small minority are trying to hijack it," he said..
In his remarks in Singapore, Rumsfeld said, "We're focusing on terrorist networks, we're focusing on trying to defend against terrorist attacks, but terrorism is simply a technique being used by extremists. It is not the problem in and of itself - it's a weapon that's being used."

Rumsfeld said it is impossible to know if the United States and its allies are winning or losing the fight against extremists. "How many more of those folks are being trained and developed and organized and deployed and sent out to work the seams and the shadows and the caves?" he asked. No one knows for sure, the secretary said.

In his keynote address at the conference, Rumsfeld put it this way:  "We need to do even more than simply attempt to capture, kill or thwart terrorists. We have to find ways to persuade young Muslims that the way of the future is through education and opportunity, not through suicide and terrorism."

  9:17:43 AM  permalink  

Beating Specialist Baker:  Appalling case of Army Specialist Sean Baker, serving January 2003 at Gitmo prison.  He was assigned to role play a prisoner in an exercise where other guards thought he was a prisoner.  He was brutally beaten before he could tell them he was a US soldier; the result was permanent brain damage.  One more instance, more than a "few bad apples".  (Baker has been medically discharged, the Army tried to deny and downplay the event, and he still awaits disability payments. )  9:14:45 AM  permalink  

rss2email: read newsfeeds from your email client: "rss2email is a simple Python script that lets you subscribe to a list of XML newsfeeds and get new items sent to you by email"  9:03:02 AM  permalink  

Giving Feedburner a try: Feedburner is a service that counts and reports on news aggregators reading the RSS at a weblog site.  Interesting use of apache redirects.  8:59:54 AM  permalink  

BMW's Easter Egg: Cars get more like software and video games: "To our knowledge, it's also the first automotive "Easter egg," though—with increased reliance on computers—it would seem just a matter of time before they become standard fare, much like the hidden features in PC games and DVD movies. .. For lucky drivers of this hot car, here's how: Switch off the stability system and select shift program six. Switch the engine to sport mode. With the hand shifter in drive, hold it in the downshift position and press the gas pedal. The engine will rev to the preprogrammed rpm and hold. Now release the shifter. The car will launch forward violently and the engine's revs will climb quickly, so be prepared to upshift. "  8:47:21 AM  permalink  


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Copyright 2006 © Ken Novak.
Last update: 5/16/2006; 11:47:10 AM.