The Capitulation of the New York Times

I’ve been mostly off the net lately dealing with severe server issues. It’s been pretty ugly and in the process of trying to deal with multiple issues that have arisen, leading me down multiple ratholes, I’ve posted several requests for help on multiple forums. But the most complete version of the story is on the Drupal forums and I won’t repeat it here. I’m able to post blog entries when is the one domain that I can allow to use SSL in my internal network, which sounds like and is a ridiculous situation. While I’ve gotten almost all of my usual site services running, the big services are my web sites—and most of these are, at best, only partially operational. (EarthWiki should be fully operational, but has limited content.)

In between all that, it occurred to me that the New York Times‘ recent decision to implement a paywall[1] represents a concession that deserves further consideration.

Read more

  1. [1]Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., “A Letter to Our Readers About Digital Subscriptions,” New York Times, March 17, 2011,

Hypocrisy in human rights

I almost passed over this story from the BBC about China’s government complaining about a United States State Department human rights report.[1] I don’t mean to sound old, but I’ve only seen something like this story several dozen times over a few dozen years, in which the U.S. criticizes the human rights record of other countries and other countries tell the U.S. to mind its own business.

Read more

  1. [1]BBC News, “China tells US: Stop preaching on human rights,” April 9, 2011,

Ayn Rand wins

Cornel West said something that should be obvious in a recent Al Jazeera interview. He pointed out, in so many words, that for an act to be bipartisan, two parties need to be present. Calling Barack Obama a technocrat, he said, again in so many words, that Democratic positions were not being represented in Washington, D.C.[1]

Read more

  1. [1]Cornel West, interview by unintelligible name, Riz Khan , March 28, 2011,

Persisting with futility

A Wall Street Journal story today offers ammunition to both sides in the dispute over Obama’s controversial surge in Afghanistan. Matthew Rosenberg and Julian Barnes report that al Qaeda has returned to northeast Afghanistan in small numbers in an area which overextended U.S. forces withdrew from. For the moment, coalition strikes are keeping al Qaeda forces from “establishing too big or permanent a presence in Afghanistan.” Obama’s strategy, undercut from the beginning by a promise that this was the beginning of the end of the war, was apparently to inflict enough pain on the Taliban to force them to negotiate. Instead, hopes that al Qaeda and the Taliban would split appear to have come to naught.[1]

Read more

  1. [1]David Benfell, “War is the first resort of a war criminal,”, December 1, 2009,; and Matthew Rosenberg and Julian E. Barnes, “Al Qaeda Makes Afghan Comeback,” Wall Street Journal, April 6, 2011,

Goldstone caves

In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Richard Goldstone recanted a portion of his report condemning Israel for war crimes in the Cast Lead operation, writing,

We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report. If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.[1]

Read more

  1. [1]Richard Goldstone, “Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes,” Washington Post, April 1, 2011,

Kafka’s dung beetle

In their expressed desire to retain contact with me, even as the Social and Cultural Anthropology Department at California Institute of Integral Studies declined my program change request, they invited me to continue to attend classes even if my enrollment ended (and in a ignominious moment of my academic career, I have indeed had to withdraw from CIIS and I will be attending Saybrook beginning this fall). Freed of actually having to do homework, I’m finding what one professor in the program called a “firehose” of reading a little more manageable.

Read more