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19 April 2000

I won't use words again
They don't mean what I meant
They don't say what I said
-- "Language", Suzanne Vega, Solitude Standing

This Salon piece was a bit breathless and gosh-wow for my taste, so I was ready to dismiss it as just a typical Salon overreaction, but then I noticed the author's name.

Ellen Ullman is the author of Close to the Machine, a book I still need to get. Salon carried excerpts from it a long time ago (which I pointed to at the time, on my old old site) and an interview. This woman is brilliant; I'm thinking I should give this latest article another chance:

  • Twilight of the crypto-geeks by Ellen Ullman [Salon]
    [Tim] Berners-Lee starts thinking about what has happened to the Web since he dreamed it up: e-commerce, big corporations, money. "Libertarians are used to fighting the government," he says, "and not corporations ..."

    This must be very difficult for him to say. For the libertarians in the audience to hear that business and free markets may not be the bringers of unalloyed good ... To imagine that a business is something to be fought, not respected ... No. Better to go off, leave the thought, don't say anything more. But he can't somehow.

    "Crypto was a security technique that didn't require trusting anyone else," Whitfield Diffie says. "Now it turns out you have to trust other people. ... I had a very mathematical and very inapplicable idea about authentication."

Sen. John McCain is trying to reclaim his 'straight talk' mantle today. Too little? Probably. Too late? In some ways. At least he's trying, I guess. Bush is still being a numskull about it.

  • McCain Regrets Silence on Flag Issue [NY Times]
    Senator John McCain of Arizona is expected to tell South Carolinians on Wednesday that the state should remove the Confederate battle flag from over its Statehouse and that he should have said so during the primary campaign there...
  • John McCain to condemn Confederate Flag [Salon]
    The issue is a personal one for McCain ... because he feels it represents the one moment during his presidential campaign when he violated a promise he made to the American people to always tell the truth, regardless of the political consequences. ... McCain will express regret that he honored politics over principle. Personally, he believes that flying the flag over the Capitol is wrong...

If Elian was Russian, or Chinese, I think this would have been over a long time ago.

  • The Elian tape: Another sad turn of events [USA Today]
    ...why is this war being fought on our screens at all? With TV's help and encouragement, what should have been a private matter has turned into a public debate -- putting viewers in the ludicrous position of trying to judge which group of total strangers would be the best custodian for a child none of us has met.

I also have to say, George Will's knee-jerk position on this really rubs me wrong. I usually at least have respect for the way he frames issues, and he often leads me to think about things in new ways, but he's just completely off base here:

  • This Week Roundtable Discussion (April 16) [ABC News]
    GEORGE WILL: Well, what's been put out by [Janet Reno's] friends is that she's always wanted to be an advocate for children. And, as one of them said, this is her chance to save one little boy. From what, precisely? The horror of growing up in America?

George Stephanopoulos had the right answer: "From being taken away from his dad." If it were simply an issue of whether illegal immigrant X would be better off here or where they came from, why, then, we shouldn't ever turn anyone away who tries to come here, yes? Yet we do. If the argument isn't valid for other immigrants, why is it being used in Elian's case?

Ah, America.

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