Saturday, June 25, 2005

Importing Backlash-Inducing Rulesets (Barnett Right, Friedman Wrong)

"This Is Not A Test," by Thomas Friedman, The World is Flat, 2005, pg 300-302.

"To join Core is to import its rules, finds Turkey," by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/001052.html.

After talking about importing rule sets -- a process Tom Friedman calls "globalution"...

"When you have the procurement dollars that HP and McDonald's have," said Dunn, "people really want to do business with you, so you have leverage and are in a position to set standards and [therefore] you have a responsibility to set standards." The role of global corporations in setting standards in emerging markets id doubly important, because oftentimes local governments actually want to improve their environmental standards. They know it is important in the long run, but the pressure to create jobs and live within budget constraints is overwhelming and therefore the pressure to look the other way is overwhelming. Countries like China, noted Dunn, often actually want an outside force, like a global business coalition, to exert pressure to drive new values and standards at home that they are too weak to impose on themselves and their own bureaucrats. In The Lexus and the Olive Tree I called this form of value creation globalution," or revolution from beyond.


Friedman irrationally succumbs to an unrelated triumphalism on "moral values"

"Compassionate capitalism. Think it sounds like an oxymoron? Think again," said Gunther. "Even as America is supposedly turning conservative on social issues, big business is moving in the other direction."


Friedman wants a backlash against globalization ? He wants to see his Globalization 4.0, or III, or whatever the heck, crash and burn? Go to poor companies and mess with their families. It worked great in Qing China (*cough* 30 million dead in the Taiping rebellion *cough*), the Shah's Iran (*cough* Islamic Republic *cough*), Czarist Russia (LENIN!) and every other place it was tried.

Tom Barnett has it spot-on

You want the Gap to remain the Gap? Then make unreasonable demands that countries there find some way to develop economically without damaging the environment. Or pretend they can somehow skip the factory-based abuse of workers that the Old Core went through. Or pretend that a perfectly operating democracy on par with Vermont is required before they can join our "club."

You can't demand the code before offering the connectivity—it's really that simple.

That's why the EU better damn well deliver membership soon to Turkey, which is jumping through hoops as fast those rule-obsessed Europeans can throw them.


Does Friedman want poor countries kept poor? Judging by his advise that rich country corporations should not work in societies that require side payments, apparently so.

Geogreen Means Strategic Scientists

"The Strategic Corporal: Leadership in the Three Block War," by Charles Krulak, Marines Magazine, January 1999, http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/usmc/strategic_corporal.htm.

"This Is Not A Test," by Thomas Friedman, The World is Flat, 2005, pg 282-283.

In ancient times, the Scythian sheik system created super-empowered managers. One man out of five was a sheik, a lowest-level manager with very broad authority. Being a sheik meant expert knowledge of warfare, equestrianism, and herding. It meant being charged with rapidly adapting to changing circumstances for the good of the larger network.

In modern warfare, this is the doctrine of the strategic corporal:

Leadership, of course, remains the hard currency of the Corps, and its development and sustainment is the third and final step in the creation of the Strategic Corporal. For two hundred and twenty-three years, on battlefields strewn across the globe, Marines have set the highest standard of combat leadership. We are inspired by their example and confident that today's Marines and those of tomorrow will rise to the same great heights. The clear lesson of our past is that success in combat, and in the barracks for that matter, rests with our most junior leaders. Over the years, however, a perception has grown that the authority of our NCO's has been eroded. Some believe that we have slowly stripped from them the latitude, the discretion, and the authority necessary to do their job. That perception must be stamped out. The remaining vestiges of the "zero defects mentality" must be exchanged for an environment in which all Marines are afforded the "freedom to fail" and with it, the opportunity to succeed. Micro-management must become a thing of the past and supervision -- that double-edged sword -- must be complemented by proactive mentoring. Most importantly, we must aggressively empower our NCO's, hold them strictly accountable for their actions, and allow the leadership potential within each of them to flourish. This philosophy, reflected in a recent Navy Times interview as "Power Down," is central to our efforts to sustain the transformation that begins with the first meeting with a Marine recruiter. Every opportunity must be seized to contribute to the growth of character and leadership within every Marine. We must remember that simple fact, and also remember that leaders are judged, ultimately, by the quality of the leadership reflected in their subordinates. We must also remember that the Strategic Corporal will be, above all else ... a leader of Marines.


How do we apply the sheik system, the strategic corporal doctrine, to business and education? First, remember in economics that capital substitutes for labor. In other words, the more machines and computers and software programs you have, the less workers you need. So in many ways every office worker is a strategic corporal, with his own type-setter, copyist, courier, and other assistants in his computer. Every office worker is a sheik.

When IBM brought in Lou Gerstner to save the company....

one of the first things he did was replace the notion of lifetime employment with the nation of lifetime employability. A friend of mine, Alex Attal, a French-born software engineer who was working for IBM at the time, described the shift this way: "Instead of IBM giving you a guarantee that you will eb employed, you had to guarantee that you could stay employable. The company would give you the framework, but you had to build it yourself. It's all about adapting [all about being a good sheik -- tdaxp]. I was head of sales for IBM France at the time. It was the mid-nineties. I told my people that in the old days [the concept of] lifetime employment was only a company's responsibility, not a personal responsibility. The company will give you access to knowledge, but you have to take advantage of it... You have to build the skills because it will be you against a lot of other people.


And the geogreen energy-independence project is a perfect way to encourage every American to be a sheik:

To be sure, it is not easy to get people passionate about the flat world. It takes some imagination. President Kennedy understood that the competition with the Soviet Union was not a space race but a science race, which was really an education race [in other words, the "space race" was cover for the real war of educating Americans -- tdaxp]. Yet the way he chose to get Americans excited about sacrificing and buckling down to do what it took to win the Cold War -- which required a large-scale push in science and engineering -- was by laying out the vision of putting a man on the moon, not a missile into Moscow. If President Bush is looking for a similar legacy project, there is one just crying out -- a national science initiative that would be our generation's moon shot: a crash program for alternative energy and conservation to make America energy-independent in ten years. If President Bush made energy independence his moon shot, in one fele swoop eh would dry up revenue for terrorism, force Iran, Russia, Venezuela, and Saudi Arabia onto the path of reform -- which they will never do with $50-a-barrel oil -- strengthen the dollar, and improve his own standing in Europe by doing something huge to reduce global warming. He would also create a real magnate to inspire young people to contribute to both the war on terrorism and America's future by again becoming scientists, engineers, and mathematicians. "This is not just a win-win," said Michael Mandelbaum. "This is a win-win-win-win-win-win."


As Tom Friedman says, we must train more Americans to be strategic corporals -- to be adaptable experts ("strategic scientists") to maximize our competitive advantages.

Through this plan, we can seize the highground in the flat world. We should do it.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Agriwelfare v. Shrinking the Gap

"Millennium challenged," by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 22 June 2005, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/001973.html.

Tony Blair and Jeff Sachs and the ONE campaign want the U.S. to plus up their development aid to Africa, but just pouring more money on the problem is not the answer. The Old Core spends more than a quarter trillion on ag subsidies to its own farmers each year, more than three times the money it collectively provides the Gap in Official Developmental Aid (ODA). The World Bank estimates that if all such subsidies were removed and trade barriers eliminated, the in-kind transfer to the Gap would be in the range of $100 billion in income-just like that.


But what's the point of doing that much to help win the Global War on Terrorism when you it might hurt agriwelfare and force some farmers to get a real job?

Monday, June 20, 2005

What Tom Barnett Should Have Read Before Reviewing Tom Friedman's New Book

"What Tom Friedman Means by 'Flat'," by Dan, tdaxp, 1 May 2005, http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2005/05/01/what_tom_friedman_means_by_flat.html.

"The Book Is Flatulent: A Brief Review of Thomas L. Friedman's "The World Is Flat" Op-Ed," by Thomas Barnett, The Newsletter from Thomas P.M. Barnett, 20 June 2005, http://www.newrulesets.com/journals/barnett_20jun2005.pdf.

Dr. Barnett is confused by Mr. Friedman's new book, The World is Flat

The book is mind-numbing in its repetition. It seems like every third page there is a CEO named Jerry or Craig from a high-tech company ready with some self-enforcing quote ("Tom, let me tell you why I think the world is becoming flatter by the day!"). In fact, using the word "flat" (or "flatter," "flattening," "flatist," "flattest," "flattener," and so on) seemed to be a prerequisite for getting your quote (and there are oh so many quotes and snippets of "flat" conversations) in the book (you can almost hear Friedman prompting everyone, "Now be sure to use the word 'flat' somewhere in your response or I can't use it!").

Hey, it's no worse than bleating "sock it to me!" to get on Laugh-In. A cameo's a cameo.

Friedman is stupefying in his efforts to interpret everything in terms of flatness (Southwest lets you print your boarding tickets online? "Yet another brilliant example that the world is getting flat!"; You can eat sushi in a small Midwestern town? "OMYGOD the world is sooooo flat!") that by the end of the book you have no idea what the terms means anymore. Flatness is a euphemism for everything from "cool" to "new" to "high-tech" to "competitive" to "innovative" to "globalization" to "flat" (no, wait a minute, that last one doesn't work . . . or does it?) am not kidding you, as you read this book you're so trained, almost in a Pavlovian sort of way, to see the word "flat" that when you go more than a paragraph or two without seeing it, you start to get anxious.


Tom Barnett doesn't know what Tom Friedman means by "flat." Maybe he should google what does tom friedman mean by flat? and read the first result

medium_flat_vertical_control.jpg



The red lines symbolize vertical power, so someone has police authority. Yet everyone is on the same level, so there are not leaders or followers. This is Friedman's idealized school system -- it is a flat vertical network

Friedman is not an anarchist or a libertarian. He believes in the importance of government. He also believes that the "top-down there are experts who know better" approach is now out of date. In Friedman's philosophy, people should no longer "act steep" (externalize leadership to others) but should "act flat" (internalize leadership to themselves).


Read the rest of What Tom Friedman Means by Flat.

Tom Barnett sees that flat is applied to many different domains, but he doesn't see the big picture. The good doctor instead mocks Friedman for thinking horizontally, calls the book "Orwellian," and writes

But I am not optimistic. Friedman's career is on autopilot now. His editor obviously can't tame him (Warren would have axed so much of this book it's not funny; and whenever I get close to using Core-Gap like that in a paragraph, he is merciless in his criticism). The man lives in a bubble where he speaks to the adoring crowds at all times, and they're mostly CEOs looking for product placements in his next piece (the whole book is one big product placement).


If Barnett means that The World is Flat is basically a big appendix to The Lexus and the Olive Tree, then he's exactly right.

If Barnett is implying that his own blog is somehow not basically a big appendix to The Pengaton's New Map, then I don't know what blogosphere he's typing in.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

America Rules and Tehran Rules: Controls v. Content Flow

"A Future Worth Creating: Defense Transformation and the New Security Environment," by Thomas Barnett, Council on Foreign Relations, 11 February 2003, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/media/CFRBriefTranscript.htm.

"Investigation Shows Big Business Funding Sex Chat Rooms," WFTV, 1 June 2005, http://www.wftv.com/technology/4554266/detail.html (from Slashdot).

Dr. Barnett notes that Islamic Republics like Iran or violent Gap states like Nigeria have problems with horizontal content flow -- the peer-to-peer flow of thoughts and ideas from one person to another.

Now I'll draw you a different map, based on what we think we saw crystallize with 9/11, but in reality we think has been emerging since 1980s. And remember, those 22 emerging markets begin to be integrated into a global economy. I'm talking about regions or countries in the world that are functioning within globalizing. By functioning, I mean they basically exhibit several of these characteristics. First, they welcome both connectivity and a content flow associated with globalization. And everybody likes connectivity. Bin Laden likes connectivity. Not everybody can handle the content flow. My favorite example, Barbie the doll was tossed out of Iran about a few months ago. Barbie the doll has infiltrated retail stores in Iran, through all that connectivity. She began appearing on toy store shelves, little Iranian girls started buying her. The mullahs didn't like it. They created an anti-Barbie doll, basically a Barbie covered head to toe in black cloth. She did not sell like hot cakes, Barbie got the boot. A good example of content flow that you can't handle. Another good example. When they tried to hold the Miss World competition in Nigeria, that was a classic.


medium_agbani_darego.jpg
Content Flow


These are states where the leaders do not trust their own people -- and the people do not trust themselves. Disturbed by rapid changes, they chose to clamp down on freedoms and reinforce traditions with laws. Of course it never works -- laws weaken traditions, destroying the dreams the politicians wanted to defend -- but if History was on the side of oppressors, we would be living in a different world.

So these puritan states use vertical controls -- laws, like electric shocks -- to disrupt and peaceful and consensual flow of commerce, desires, and entertainment.

In the United States, we use America Rules: the peaceful settlement of dispute through agreement on what is "normal"

Several well-known companies have pulled ads from a popular online chat room service after an investigation by Houston television station KPRC revealed to them what their money was funding.

...

Among the thousands of chat room titles, where people can look for common interests like music or movies, there are other rooms with some disturbing titles, such as:

  • 9-17-Year-Olds Wantin' Sex
  • Younger Girls 4 Older Guys
  • Girls 13 And Under For Older Guys
  • Girls 13 And Up For Much Older Man
  • Girls 8 to 13 Watch Boys (In A Particular Sex Act)


...

Before entering the chat room titled "5 To 13-Year-Old Kiddies Who Love Sex" or "Girls 5 To 13 For Older Men," guests were required to click on a Star Wars-themed ad from Diet Pepsi.


Not that the American ways stops "virtue" thugs from trying Tehran Rules

Yahoo! is facing a $10 million lawsuit that accuses it of cashing in on some disturbing chat rooms.

...

"Yes, more legislation is required. The law has not kept up with this type of criminal activity [if it is legal how is it criminal? -- tdaxp]," U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, told the station.

...
Inside the chat rooms, not only were men trying to meet children or even take them away from home to run away, the station found countless adult men using Web cameras to send children in the room lewd pictures or display live nude images of themselves.

However, the nation's top law enforcement officers said it is all legal [garbled journalism -- what is "legal" here? vague agitprop -- tdaxp ].


Update: Typically the technophile solution has bad side-effects. Doesn't deter flit or instapundit from something similar, though...

20:55 Posted in Connectivity, Law, Software | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: puritanism

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Barnett and Berman Network Security (CompSci And PoliSci Makes NetSci)

"Life After DoDth or: How the Evernet Changes Everything," by Thomas P.M. Barnett, Proceedings of US Naval Institute, May 2000, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/published/ladod.htm.

"The Death of a Firewall," by Stuart Berman, Network Magazine, 1 June 2005, http://www.networkmagazine.com/shared/article/showArticle.jhtml?articleId=163700676 (from My Kids' Dad).

In an article discussing how to "maintain and protect our economic networks with the outside world," geostrategist proposes a "Department of Network Security" (DNS) that will tackle international organized crime, insurgencies, and terrorism. DNS will partially replace the Department of Defense, with the other end being in the Department of Global Deterrence (DGD) . In his words,

First the unpleasant truth: the Department of Defense's raison d'être died with the Cold War. No one likes to talk about it, but that's what happened. Created in the National Security Act of 1947, the DoD is wholly a creature of what eventually became the United States' hair-trigger during the nuclear standoff with the Soviet Union. Prior to that, we basically stuck to the Constitution's mandate to "provide and maintain a Navy" on a constant basis and to "raise and support Armies" as the situation demanded.

...

But that strategy died with the start of the globalization era. Now, security rationales are subordinate to economic imperatives. So why haven't we seen, as Joseph Nye might say, the "return of history" in the U.S. national security establishment?[2] Why haven't we repealed the 1947 National Security Act and thrown away this outmoded unification of two defense concepts [meaning, "Why haven't be eliminated the Department of Defenset?" - tdaxp] that constantly compete against one another—to the detriment of both?

...

DNS will discard the traditional notion of military service separate from civilian life. For most personnel, it will adopt a consultancy model, whereby the agency rents career time versus buying entire lifetimes (essentially the National Guard model). DNS's officer corps will remain career managers, but with frequent real-world tours of duty in technology, industrial, and business fields. This organization will be networked in the extreme, because networks will be what it is all about. This means no separate legal system and the end to posse comitatus restrictions.


Posse Comitatus is the federal law that ended Reconstruction by preventing the military from protecting democracy in the Southern States. The Posse Comitatus Act was the first capitulation of the United States in a War on Terrorism. Barnett, foreseeing a new Global War on Terrorism, realized that it must end if we are to have network security

Stuart Berman of MKD has his own thoughts on network security:

Three years ago, I proposed to our technology architects that we eliminate our network firewalls. Today, we're close to achieving that goal. Back then, I thought that network-based firewalls were losing their effectiveness, enabling a mind-set that was flawed. Today, I'm certain.

Perimeter security was originally intended to allow us to operate with the confidence that our information and content wouldn't be stolen or otherwise abused. Instead, the firewall has slowed down application deployment, limiting our choice of applications and increasing our stress.

To make matters worse, we constantly heard that something was safe because it was inside our network. Who thinks that the bad guys are outside the firewall and the good guys are in? A myriad of applications, from Web-based mail to IM to VoIP, can now tunnel through or bypass the firewall. At the same time, new organizational models embrace a variety of visitors, including contractors and partners, into our networks. Nevertheless, the perimeter is still seen as a defense that keeps out bad behavior. Taking that crutch away has forced us to rethink our security model.

Our new security posture gives our users access to more applications regardless of their location and without sacrificing security. The new security architecture isn't focused on our network firewall. Instead, we embed security within our internal network. This begins with separating our servers from our clients. We can do that now, thanks to layer-3 data center switches that allow for the low-cost creation of subnets. By defining simple ACLs, we further isolate our backend servers.


While Barnett is talking about geopolitical network defense, and Berman is talking about I.T. network defense,both thinkers are analyzing network defenses and both come to the same conclusion: we can no longer trust a border to protect us. In a world where we need to increase "connectivity with the outside world" (in Barnett's words), trusting a "perimeter" to "keeps out bad behavior" is a "crutch" (Berman's terms).

Stuart Berman talks about putting "security within our internal network" (emphasis mine). Barnett talks about ending the "traditional notion of military service separate from civilian life." Same thing.

Turns out my two programs of graduate study, Computer Science and Politican Science, aren't so different after all.

Computer Science + Political Science = Network Science.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Destroy or Build Families to Shrink the Gap

"The blurring of public and private = the military-market nexus," by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 26 May 2005, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/001871.html.

"Democracy starts with women," by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 26 May 2005, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/001874.html.

The region of failed states, death, murder, and mass rape, extending from Zimbabwe to Xinjiang, is called "the Gap." It is dominated by pre-modern cultures, and those pre-modern cultures are dominated by powerful pre-modern networks: families. Families are natural conduits of corruption and engines of insurgency. They are also sources of love, protection, and support. The Bible recognizes both aspects, and swings from radically pro-family

If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother, and his blood will be on his own head.


to radically liberationist

For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.


So it is no surprise that Catholic geostrategist Thomas PM Barnett doesn't know if we should shrink the gap by reinforcing families, like in America

But there is also the spiritual dimension. If the "good life" is good for us, then we ought to be able to share it with others. That's not just good business, that's good faith, and so, as highlighted yet again in an op-ed (this time David Brooks), we see more and more Beltway experts begin to realize the growing power of the faith-based community in shrinking the Gap. Evangelicals, as Brooks says, "feel less represented by the culture war-centered parachurch organizations, and better represented by congregational pastors, who have a broader range of interests and more passion for mobilizing volunteers to perform service."

You have no idea how many audience members have come up to me after talks, saying that their church spent a Sunday morning debating the moral implications of PNM's call to shrink the Gap. People are looking for ways to connect to a Global War on Terrorism that involve the "everything else" other than war, and thank God for these people because—ultimately—this is how we all win in the end.


or by fundamentally undermining them, like in America

Another great article highlighting the utility of microfinance in empowering women in traditional societies. Notice how you never read stories about microloans empowering men in the Gap, just women?

...

Empowering women drives democracy because empowering women is how you set in motion broadband economic development. There was no "Asian miracle" that did not involve women entering the labor force, pure and simple. We set that example, and we can trigger that development, but only if we keep women at the forefront of our development aid.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Expelling North Korea From the Orbit of the World (Earth as an Atom)

"Peace of Westphalia," Wikipedia, 31 December 2004, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_of_Westphalia.

"Electrons," by Larry Dunbar, tdaxp, 22 May 2005, http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2005/05/21/the_path_to_victory_neural_networks_of_4g_movements.html.

Commenting on my post about neural networks and Fourth Generation movements, Larry compares states to electrons

I am glad to see you have the basic principles of an electron down. The very existence of an electron is behind the reason I think some of the ideas of Dr. Barnett’s are so wacky.

An electron exists where it is because the frequencies involved are non-destructive. When an atom has 6 electrons in an orbit they exist because the frequency of each don’t cancel each other out. When energy is increased or decreased, negative or positive acceleration, the frequency changes so the electrons have to “move” out or “move” in, for them to exist.


In other words, a stable world would be like an element in a vacuum: nothing changes the energy of the states so there are no disruptions. But...

Because I feel society act like an electron, particle wave, or lightwave, I also feel they can’t exists when their frequency are destructive to each other. If you replace implicit laws, which make a society exist, with frequency then you are able to understand what I mean.

I feel the frequency of our society produce a destructive frequency with China. China and North Korea produce a non-destructive frequency so without any modification to their frequency, they can exist. I simply don’t feel Dr. Barnett has factored frequency into his equation.


Larry correctly notes that increased American connectivity and communication with the Chinese people undermines Chinese society and government. He also correctly notes that same does not work in reverse, and Chinese norms do not threaten American culture.

For centuries, the system that allowed every state to go its own way was The Peace of Westphalia. I think in his deference to the stability of states, Larry would disagree with the NATO Secretary General, the German foreign Minister, and the al Qaeda statement:

In 1998 on a Symposium on the Political Relevance of the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, then NATO Secretary General Javier Solana said that "humanity and democracy [were] two principles essentially irrelevant to the original Westphalian order" and criticized that "the Westphalian system had its limits. For one, the principle of sovereignty it relied on also produced the basis for rivalry, not community of states; exclusion, not integration." [1]

In 2001, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer referred to the Peace of Westphalia in his Humboldt Speech which argued that the system of European politics set up by Westphalia was obsolete: "The core of the concept of Europe after 1945 was and still is a rejection of the European balance-of-power principle and the hegemonic ambitions of individual states that had emerged following the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, a rejection which took the form of closer meshing of vital interests and the transfer of nation-state sovereign rights to supranational European institutions." [2]

In the aftermath of the 11 March 2004 Madrid attacks, the terrorist network al-Qaida also declared that "the international system built-up by the West since the Treaty of Westphalia will collapse; and a new international system will rise under the leadership of a mighty Islamic state". [3] Also, it is often claimed that globalization is bringing an evolution of the international system past the sovereign Westphalian state.


We could firewall the Gap and rely on deterrence to create many worlds -- a free, connected Core that includes the North America, Europe, Japan, and some others, along with many national cultures cut off from the wider world and its freedoms.

When we connect with China, we give China the activation it needs to change its orbit. Globalization gives energy to peoples to throw off old ways and begin new ones Globalization creates disorder. Globalization is a process of creative destruction that trades stability in the short-term for a safer and better world in the long-term.

The North Korean government cannot share in this future. It is too dangerous and to evil to exist. The other states will return to stability in Globalization -- will will share constructive frequencies. But not North Korea. We must expel North Korea from the atom of the world. We must Kill Kim.

Academic Tenure Is Worth Fighting For (Intellectual Property and the Iraq War)

"Lecturer censored in Spanish University (UPV) for defending P2P networks," by Jorge Cortell, Bitacora (Blog) de Jorge Cortell, 20 May 2005, http://homepage.mac.com/jorgecortell/blogwavestudio/LH20041209105106/LHA20050520091532/index.html (from Slashdot).

Earlier, I fisked Victor Hansons' attack on tenure. While Hanson is right that many academics are politically biased, tenure is too important to give up. Without a healthy system of tenure academics can easily be intimidated by narrow interests against pursuing vital research.

For example, in Spain a lecturer was dismissed for discussing peer-to-peer computer networks.


Jorge Cortell, Dismissed Lecturer


This what happened to me when trying to defend the legal use of P2P networks in Spain.

I have been teaching "Intellectual Property" (although I dislike the term) among other subjects at a Masters Degree in the Polytechnic University of Valencia UPV (Spain) for over 5 years. Two weeks ago I was scheduled (invited by the ETSIA Student Union and Linux Users' Group for the celebration of "Culture Week") to give a conference in one of the university's buildings. During that conference I was to analyze the legal use and benefits of the P2P networks, even when dealing with copyrighted works (according to the Spanish Intellectual Property Law, Private Copy provision, and many research papers, books and court rulings). I was even going to use the network to "prove" that it was legal, since members of the Collecting Society "SGAE" had appeared on TV and newspapers saying that "P2P networks are ilegal" (sic) just like that, and to that extent I even contacted SGAE, National Police, and the Attorney General in advance to inform them about it.

The day before the conference, the Dean (pressured by the Spanish Recording Industry Association "Promusicae" as I found out later, and he recognized himself in a quote to the national newspaper El Pais, and even the Motion Picture Association of America, as another newspaper quotes) tried to stop it by denying permission to use the scheduled venue. So I scheduled a second one, and that was denied again. And a third time. Finally I gave the conference on the university cafeteria, for 5 hours, in front of 150 people.

Later on that day (May 4th, I will never forget), I received a call from the Director of the Masters Degree Program where I was teaching telling me that the Dean had called and had asked him to "make sure I did not teach there again", and on a second call saying "it's your choice, but also your responsibility".

The Director called me and first asked me to remove any link to the university from my website, and also to "hide" the fact that I was teaching there. Then he told me about the pressures and threats he and the Program received (to be subjected to software licenses inspection, copyright violations inspections, or anything that may damage them). Obviously I had to resign to save his job (and everybody else's at the Masters Program). So I did.


This issue is much bigger than software property rights.

Peer-to-peer networks are everywhere. They are behind the rise of the Christian Right in America. They are behind the anti-Iraqi Insurgency. Knowing how they work is vital to destroying terrorist networks.

The same laws of networks apply, whether the nets in question are technological or social. For instance, recent Macromedia patents on disrupting peer-to-peer computer networks may harm efforts to fight terrorists in Iraq.

The less academics have tenure, the less safe research becomes. The less safe research becomes, the less questions are asked. The less questions are asked, the stupider and slower we are. The stupider and slower we are, the easier it is for our enemies.

Fight terrorism. Protect tenure.

Update: Citizen Journal disagrees

The Most Important Commandments

"Cutting and Christ, by Tod Bolsinger, It Takes A Church..., 19 May 2005, http://bolsinger.blogs.com/weblog/2005/05/cutting_and_chr.html (from By Dawn's Early Light)

While talking youths physically injuring themselves to ease mental plain, Paster Bolsinger writes

In my book, It Takes a Church to Raise a Christian, I quote extensively from Emil Brunner’s book, The Misunderstanding of the Church. This book written over half-century ago remains the most profound theological work on what the church is and how we have relegated to nothing more than a “means of grace”. What is in fact, the very presence of God on earth has become for many of us a “helpful” yet optional part of the Christian life.

Brunner writes, The “togetherness of Christians is...not secondary or contingent: it is integral to their life just as is their abiding in Christ.” Did you get that? “JUST AS IS their abiding in Christ.” “The fellowship of Christians is just as much an end in itself as is their fellowship with Christ. “ Did you get that? “JUST AS MUCH an end in itself…”

Brunner is pointing to the biblical notion that if we are IN FACT, the body of Christ with Jesus as our head, then BEING the church and loving, caring and forgiving each other is just as important as the way that a healthy person takes care of his body.


I wrote earlier about religions and loneliness. As I wrote then, the two themes of the New Testament are Follow Christ and Love Your Neighbor The early Church was combining the two most powerful messages in the world: We can do it. You can help and I love you.

An ideological network that effectively combines both messages is almost impossible. That is a major reason for the success of Christianity.

12:07 Posted in Connectivity, Faith | Permalink | Comments (0)