Name Marco Von Ballmoos
Member since
Email [hidden]
Home page http://earthli.com/users/marco

The (only) developer at earthli.com.


2306 Articles

18 years Ago

Spin and Secrets

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

Here’s a scary article from Thomas Friedman on the New York Times. He discusses how the U.S. needs to spin the war better because there’s too much dissent.

<q>[A] month into the war in Afghanistan, the hand-wringing has already begun over how long this might last. Let’s all take a deep breath and repeat after me: Give war a chance. This is Afghanistan we’re talking about. Check the map. It’s far away.</q>

So, the government isn’t doing enough to convince of the righteousness of the cause. In... [More]

New ‘stimulus’ bills

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

Common Dreams published The One-Eyed Man, discussing the recent enormous “economic stimulus” bill passed this week. The article is so named because:

<q>to really understand legislation you have to look for the clause giving special consideration to one-eyed bearded men with a limp &#8212; that is, you have to look for the provision that turns a bill ostensibly serving a public purpose into a giveaway for some special interest.</q>

For more information on the bill, see Operation Enduring... [More]

earthli Settings fixed (again)

Published on in earthli.com

[default] options added to earthli settings, which will use the default at all times, and changes for holidays ;-). Also fixed some bugs in the cookie that only Mozilla-based browsers detected.

Jass Manual converted

Published on in earthli.com

The Jass Manual has been converted to use the new settings.

Think. Question. Analyze.

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

Former U.S. secretary of labor, Robert Reich, published How to Be Tough on Terrorism on AlterNet. He recommends a more reasoned approach, avoiding the far-right or far-left fanaticism that has polarized political discussion recently.

<q>The right dismisses this [U.S.] sordid history as irrelevant to the current crisis and accuses anyone on the left who dwells on it as “blaming America” for terrorism. Both sides are wrong: the left for suggesting that this history should make us any less... [More]

License(s) to kill (but not to talk)

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

Common Dreams reports that the CIA has been approved to use targeted kills (assasinations for those of you not versed in doublespeak) again for the first time (ahem) since 1975, when they last made a horrendous mess of trying to kill Castro (who is still alive for those playing catch-up).

<q>The US defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, confirmed reports of such a move yesterday by telling CNN that the US would be acting in self-defence in carrying out such missions. … Mr Rumsfeld said: “It is... [More]

Who the hell is mailing Anthrax?

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

A lot of media attention is given to the connection between the Anthrax letters and the 9/11 attack. Why the silence on right-wing terrorism? on the World Socialist Web Site discusses the very real possibility that the Anthrax attacks are from domestic sources.

<q>If the anthrax attacks had taken place before September 11, the prime suspects would have been anti-abortion zealots or right-wing militia fanatics seeking to avenge the execution of Timothy McVeigh.</q>

Since the U.S. has no... [More]

Happy Halloween

Published on in earthli.com

earthli gets into the Halloween spirit with a new default theme (select Halloween from the settings menus if you have set a different default theme).

Photo Albums have a new home

Published on in earthli.com

The new Photo Albums are working and all existing photos are browsable. Soon you’ll be able to add pictures again.

Spreading some dis-information

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

The NY Times writes No News Is Good News, another article about media management in the U.S. It discusses the efforts to keep Bin Laden off of network television, with the transparent excuse that he might be sending coded messages to his ‘troops’, as well as the bending of public sentiment to keep up support for the war by encouraging a ‘with us or against us’ mentality:

<q>Even so, America’s New War, as CNN has branded it, is already whipping up one of the cold war’s most self-destructive... [More]

Potpourri (Information Overload)

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

I’ve read a lot of longer articles and papers recently, filling in history that somehow got left out of the standard U.S. curriculum (pretty much the whole 20th century). It’s a bit of an information overload. There’s a (semi-)interesting read on First Monday about separating fact from dogma and propaganda and the success of newspaper, television and community news services in that regard.

On to the information overload.

On September 18, Noam Chomsky gave another talk at MIT, recapping many... [More]

From Pilger to Powell

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

Browsing the archives at CounterPunch turned up more interesting material. For a bit of levity, here’s The New Newspeak with some terms and definitions for today’s world. An article called Sex not Bombs is view of the situation I haven’t seen yet.

A John Pilger article from the 15th of October seriously derides the war in Afghanistan from a British point of view and takes to task our leaders for not reflecting the people’s views (also available at Pilger’s site):

<q>“Moreover, with every bomb... [More]

47 Questions

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

ZMag has 47 questions about the War in Afghanistan. The questions progress naturally, starting with “What is Islamic Fundamentalism?” (1) and proceeding from there. Of particular interest are “What is Terrorism?” (5), which leads to defining which nations are terrorist based on that criteria. “Is what the U.S. is doing consistent with a legal approach” (14) addresses the current vigilante approach the U.S. is taking:

<q>the answer is that the U.S. wishes to send a message and to establish a... [More]

What is patriotic?

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

In the Newsday today, I see that the CIA is being rewarded for their great counter-intelligence work so far:

<q>President George W. Bush last month signed an intelligence order directing the CIA to undertake its most sweeping and lethal covert action since the founding of the agency in 1947, explicitly calling for the destruction of Osama bin Laden and his worldwide al-Qaida network, according to senior government officials. … The president also added more than $1 billion to the agency’s war... [More]

Profiling is <em>good

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

In the same creepy vein as the previous post, here’s an article on the Wall Street Journal talking about how easy it is being white and being able to freely profile people while sympathizing with their plight, but demanding their patience and that they “suck it up”.

<q>But you know what? I think we’re in the fight of our lives, and I think we’re going to need their patience. And I think those who have not yet developed patience are going to have to grow up and get some. …
No one likes... [More]

Thinking about flying?

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

You better make sure your reading material is government-approved. From CityPaper, an account of one man trying to fly to Arizona in a highly vigilant America.


The Talibabanana Song

Published on in Fun

A few weeks ago, BBSpot wrote the Talibanana song. At the bottom of the page, he noted that he would welcome anyone offering to put it to music. In the inimitable style of the Internet, someone at MadBlast.com has done just that in a really nice Flash movie.

Rumors, Humor, Suppression and Bias

Published on in Miscellaneous

Start off with Humor:

There’s a cartoon at Salon.com spoofing the strong-arming going on in the government as bill after bill if shoved through with little to no comment and/or argument from the Senate of Congress.

This picture of a bomb signing got coverage at Yahoo News. It would have been pretty funny if they would have spelled hijack correctly and could have avoided disparaging ‘fags’ at the same time. Got to keep your message on target and let’s not sully it with other bigotries,... [More]

Neal Stephenson Quote

Published on in Quotes

If you don’t like having choices made for you, you should start making your own. − Neal Stephenson

earthli Settings stored indefinitely

Published on in earthli.com

earthli Settings (color, font, size) are now stored indefinitely (fixed a bug that stored them only for a day). So now when you make a change, it will stick.

USA Bill passes Senate 96-1

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

WiredNews reports that the USA (Uniting and Strengthening America) or “Terror” Bill has passed the Senate. Presumably it will not have more trouble passing Congress. Included measures granted to policing organizations are:

<q>…allow[s] police to perform “roving wiretaps” and listen in on any telephone that a subject of an investigation might use. … expands police’s ability to access any type of stored or “tangible” information…such as medical or educational data … [provides] that... [More]

Missiles Away

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

If you caught President Bush’s press conference last night, you might have been amazed to discover that not only is the notion of a Missile Defense Shield still alive, apparently his faith in its abilities are strengthened. An article from Discover Magazine called Shield of Dreams (only available in print for now, should be on the website in a month or so), provides a “A critical look at the science and technology required to build an antiballistic system that would make the United States... [More]

Texas Tea

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

Alternet has an article on Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan has two huge problems. One is crippling poverty and brutal winters in the mid-nineties that killed much of the population through malnutrition. The other is that:

<q>Geologists estimate that sitting beneath the wind-blown steppes of Kazakhstan are 50 billion barrels of oil — by far the biggest untapped reserves in the world. (Saudi Arabia, currently the world’s largest oil producer, is believed to have about 30 billion barrels remaining.)</q>... [More]

Chomsky interview on MSNBC

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

Noam Chomsky was interviewed (again) on MSNBC on October 2, 2001. ZMag has the transcript. He touches on the failure of the U.S. propaganda system abroad (despite its resounding success on Americans):

<q>…the reason is that they can see with their own eyes what the facts are. When you produce false propaganda to people who can see that it’s false, it does not succeed. Just the way that we never believed Soviet propaganda. It was so obviously ridiculous that you just laughed at it.</q>

Also... [More]

Rumor-squashing service announcement

Published on in Technology

There are a lot of rumors floating around. Attorney General John Ashcroft and the FBI tell us that they use high-encryption programs, so the government needs access to all of those. Others claim that they are using steganography (information embedded in images) and are communicating through web porn. Phil Zimmermann, the inventor of PGP (an encryption package) was quoted by the Washington Post as expressing “regret” for inventing PGP.

All not true. Most of it deliberately misinterpreted to... [More]

Write reviews for Amazon

Published on in Fun

If you’re ever bored, just head on over to Amazon.com and write up some reviews of books. These folks did. You don’t even have to read the book. You don’t even have to describe what’s actually in the book. Anything goes.

The book being reviewed (though perhaps, lampooned is a better word. Reviled is an even better one.) is <u>I had a Frightmare!</u> by Bil Keane, writer of the insipid Family Circus comic strip. Scroll down to the Customer Reviews and enjoy.

War Satire

Published on in Miscellaneous

Does this post belong in Current Events? Or Humor? Depends on your point of view and/or sense of humor, I suppose. I’ll put it in News. Michael Moore has a new rant on AlterNet called All I Am Saying Is Give War A Chance. If you need background music while you read it, try similar satire from Bob Geldof, from the Vegetarians of Love (released in 1990), called The Great Song of Indifference. Lastly, the Onion urges us to let our “Freedoms [be] Curtailed in Defense of Liberty”.

Athlon 1.4GHz == P4 2.0 GHz

Published on in Technology

There’s a lot of people who just look at the speed of a chip; even people who should know better. Higher equals faster. If I’ve got an Athlon 1.4GHz, then how much faster could I be going with a P4 2.0 GHz. I mean, 2.0 GHz! Intel broke the 2 GHz barrier! Wow!

Settle down.

Here’s some good benchmarks from HardOCP showing that the Athlon 1.4 chip is faster in some tests and slower in some tests (about 50/50) on this page, but only by small margins either way. Statistically, they’re... [More]

Cookie location changed

Published on in earthli.com

The ‘Settings’ are stored elsewhere now. If you use Mozilla or Netscape 6.x, you have to clear the old earthli cookie. Oh, and you can show replies in the forums pages now.

…Let Slip the Dogs of War

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

The U.S. started bombing Afghanistan yesterday. Seems we’re bombing someone new every couple of years or so. How surgical are the attacks? This is the same military that had to cheat on other ‘surgical strike’ tests…and still failed them. The same military that claimed surgical attacks in the Gulf War…and admitted later they lied and had killed about 200,000 people, many of them civilians. What kind of military installations are being targeted? I thought most places in Afghanistan didn’t... [More]