Toward a ‘Transactional’ Cosmology: Web Dynamics for the Information Age

“We’ve gone from a lunar world, where we measured everything in terms of days, weeks and months, to a transactional world, where every single transaction has to be part of your decision-making process.” — Colin Powell, December 14 2008

Each information transaction, sometimes as exemplary, sometimes as single element added to a sweeping aggregate of historical sway, is a precedent, which can motivate, influence or redirect the push of future happenstance. And, we must take note, every transaction involving matter or energy contains information, traces of a history of its coming into being, and generates a “footprint”, a trace of its appearance and its transition into something beyond the transactional moment.

The information age gives us a vast wealth of knowledge, or of a kind of knowledge, what we take to be knowledge, about the world, hints which are also indicators, though not predictors, indicators because they play a role in expressing current interest, embedded in human activity, and so in framing future expressions of human interest.

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The Illusion of the Definite & Invasive ‘Other’

Seven lies that inform the push for an English-only United States

Is the United States an “English-speaking nation”, or a place where all cultures are welcome to converge, mix and evolve? To answer this question, we must consider that there is a natural human tendency to fear what is perceived as the definite and invasive “other”, that which is different and which we feel can be categorized in a way that fits our worries.

The human space is fluid, adaptable, sensitive to evolving circumstance. This is why democracy is the only legitimate form of government. The identity of groups, or for that matter of individuals is not implacable, nor is it absolutely relative. It follows the vicissitudes of the human health and mind, and requires sincere dialogue with the other in order to reach its fullest potential. The push to establish a single national language can only be sustained on the basis of a number of false premises.

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Roxana Saberi is Free

Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi, jailed in Tehran on allegations of espionage, has had her sentence reduced from 8 years to 2 years, suspended for 5 years. Iranian officials announced today that she was free to leave Evin prison immediately. Saberi, originally detained for buying a bottle of wine, was subsequently charged with reporting without government credentials, then espionage. Her trial was a 15-minute closed-door hearing in which no defense was permitted.

The case had become a major international diplomatic issue, with the US government calling the charges “baseless” and both Sec. of State Clinton and Pres. Obama repeatedly demanding her immediate release. Today, Sec. of State Clinton announced today that Saberi’s release had been confirmed, adding that she was “heartened” by the news.

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Saberi Lawyer Expects ‘Remarkable Change’ After 5-hour Closed-door Appeal Hearing

The lawyer representing Roxana Saberi in an Iranian appeals court today has expressed hope, saying he is “optimistic she will be acquitted”. Ms. Saberi was convicted in April by an Iranian court of spying for the US, a charge related to her conducting journalistic activity without a government-issued license to do so. There has been an international outcry calling for her unconditional release, and Iran’s president ordered the courts to hear her appeal.

According to the AP:

“I am hopeful and optimistic that there will be a remarkable change to her verdict,” Abdolsamad Khorramshahi said outside the courthouse. “My colleague and I were allowed to defend our client in a favorable atmosphere. Our client also had enough time to defend herself.”

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Journalists Around the World at Risk of Violence or Imprisonment

As the world marked international Press Freedom Day yesterday, there was growing concern about the conditions facing journalists around the world. Reporters without Borders (RSF) has expressed concern a Tibetan editor jailed in China may be suffering torture, the American journalist Roxana Saberi is said to be frail due to an ongoing hunger strike in protest of her 8 year sentence for ‘espionage’ in Iran, and numerous heads of state are listed as ‘predators’ working against press freedom.

The situation in Iraq continues to be extremely grave, with over 200 journalists and media workers killed since the 2003 invasion. Violence is ongoing and the government of Nouri al-Maliki is reported to be putting mounting pressure on reporters to be less critical of government.

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Against the Good Nukes / Bad Nukes Fallacy, or: David Frum’s Prophecy Problem

David Frum likes to think he knows what he’s talking about, but here’s the main reason he so often does not: he tends to link ideological assumptions with cynical bad-faith arguments about geo-politics. He mixes willing naïveté with the radical pretense of cynical omniscience. Frum would have us commit to the dangerous gamble that is selective non-proliferation, because he can’t think a better way.

When David Frum writes about why the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons is not only “impossible” but also “dangerous”, he does so with two major obstacles to credibility: 1. he is arguing for the policies of an administration in which he served; 2. he is arguing that he can prove a negative (claiming to know what will never come to pass, what can never be expected from comprehensive global negotiations, the development of surveillance and inspections technologies, the enticements of a truly global regime of denuclearization).

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Eliminating All Nuclear Weapons More Realistic than Selective Non-proliferation

Because there’s something in it for everybody. The current global nuclear weapons-control regime operates on a dangerously untenable false premise: that only ‘responsible’ nations can or should be allowed to make and maintain arsenals of nuclear warheads. At first blush, it may seem highly rational: only those who will behave responsibly should have the most dangerous weapons; but, then, upon further examination, who is qualified to make that judgment?

Probably not one nation not specifically seeking to expand the “nuclear club” to include itself would entrust to an autonomous international body the adjudication of who is responsible enough to have the right to add more nuclear weapons to the global stockpile. Certainly, the US tends to oppose allowing any external body to judge its own level of inherent responsibility or sovereign rights. And international law, at present, forbids the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

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Unrelenting Soft Power: the Secret to Obama’s Poised Leadership

Lead by example. It’s a simple idea, and one that tends to be fully realized only by those who are most able. You lead by demonstrating the best qualities, because you are able to — 1. because you have them; 2. because you are in a position to do so; 3. because you are confident both of your ability to embody these qualities and of the qualities themselves, their virtue and their efficacy.

Soft power works, because one is able to use the social force of virtue —rooted in actual qualities and demonstrable value to those concerned— and because one shows proof of being closer to shared goals than the other party, leading the other party to follow one’s lead.

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‘Ghost Net’: Cyber-spying Probe Reveals Vast Network of Cyber-espionage Based in China

Investigators in several countries say they have uncovered a global “ghost net” of cyber-espionage, with major centers in three Chinese provinces and a foothold in California. Just one of the group’s alleged cyber-spies is said to have created a system that hacked into 30,000 computers per day. The investigation began with a probe into alleged hacking of computers used by the Dalai Lama in exile in India.

According to CNN:

Computers —including machines at NATO, governments and embassies— are infected with software that lets attackers gain complete control of them, cyber-security experts alleged in two reports Sunday.

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