Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Internet warfare

Free Alaa! is a website dedicated to obtaining justice for Egyptian blogger Alaa, who as Tigerhawk says, was "apparently arrested ... in connection with the ongoing struggle in that country over the independence of the judiciary." Sandmonkey describes the events surrounding his arrest.

As you may have heard by now, Egyptian Blogger Alaa Abdel Fatah has been arrested alongside 10 others while demonstrating in support of the independence of the Judiciary in Egypt and the release of previous demonstrators who were detained 2 weeks earlier. The Police entrapped them, cordoning off their peaceful protest and then proceeded to handpick the demonstrators that they wanted to detain, beat them, and then arrested them. ... This is by no means a co-incidence. Government agents handpicked people to arrest from amongst the protesters. They have been wanting to get Alaa for a long time now, precisely because he is high profile, and because he helps organizes the protests and spread the information through the blog aggregator he runs (


The tactics Free Alaa! advocates for doing pushing for Alaa's provide a glimpse into Internet warfare. Maybe you've heard of the weapons: email assault, Google bombs, wikis. Let's consider the email assault. The Big Pharaoh reports that:

I just got information that the Egyptian embassy in DC was bombarded with e-mails demanding the release of Alaa and the others. Good job. ... 

As I stated before, the Egyptian embassy in DC got bombarded by emails from concerned average Americans. We are also suggesting you to contact David Welch, Assistant Secertary and head of the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. His email is: Welch has been a very active US ambassador in Egypt. He definitely still retains many contacts with Egyptian officials.

Since one current measure of a person's fame is whether he has his own personal entry in Wikipedia, a guy from Florida started one up: Alaa Abd El-Fatah

The Google Bomb weapon requires a little explanation. It's basically a way of creating links which tricks the Google search engine into giving a certain phrase inordinate importance. Here's how it's done.

A google bomb could be achieved easily, this is a possible scenario :

1. The initiator chooses a word to be searched : "liars"
2. The initiator chooses the target website : ""
3. The initiator creates a link like this : <a href="">liars</a>
4. The initiator places this code in his website, as his signature in forum, in his blogs etc.
5. The initiator talks to other people about the bomb and tells other people to use the code in their own writings.
6. GoogleBot indexes and ranks, resulting in having the political party's webpage as a first result

Free Alaa! has proposed this Google bombing scheme.

You use the word googlebombingforalaa and link it to this:
so you get this: googlebombingforalaa


I think the effectiveness of the Internet campaign would be greatly enhanced if these Internet weapons were targeted by operational intelligence. A perfect example was cited by The Big Pharaoh. Because emails were directed at a particular target -- the Egyptian embassy -- they have had a perceptible impact. If it were scattered the effect would be less. Institutions with which the Egyptian government has dealings can be targeted in the same way -- and Egypt has dealings with companies, governments and cultural establishments -- and the outriders of Mubarak's public diplomacy will start taking palpable hits. Attacks like Google Bombs and Wikis are of a more general nature. They can set a tone, but they ineffective in themselves. So the next thing the Free Alaa! site should create is a targeting cell which can determine against which institutions email campaigns, petitions and the like can be directed.

It would also help if the campaign were pitched in politically neutral terms. Glenn Reynolds is the conservative Godfather of the Free Alaa campaign. If a leftist Godfather could be found then the campaign could be conducted in stereophonic. One last item: the demands to free Alaa should be designed with goal of leaving the Egyptian government an "out": a way in which they can accede to the demands without losing face or suffering undue public humiliation. It's not my idea. It Sun Tzu's.


Blogger desert rat said...

I'll have to read that again, a few times, to understand the specific directions, but if this can really work, revenge of the nerds, fer sure, I'd give it a go.

5/10/2006 06:01:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

One OT, and I shall bother no more:
On the homefront, the Internet Campaign could benefit our Homeland Security if even a portion of the "right wing blogosphere" had half the guts of Michelle Malkin or Talk Radio, to hold this Outlaw Administration Accountable.
Many seem afraid of what other bloggers will say, much as the GOP fears the MSM.
Example of Malkin's work trying to save this country from POTUS.
***update from Daily Bulletin :
" Scott James, a former Tucson agent, resigned after eight years of service in February, citing a lack of support for agents by the Department of Homeland Security. He said that U.S. Border Patrol officials provided office space inside their headquarters to Mexican consulate officials, allowed the consulate to dictate the agents' activities, and gave the consulate information on ongoing investigations. Such courtesies were not extended to consulate offices of other countries, James said."***
My (Malkins)latest column takes on color-coded cronyism at DHS .
Vent asks where all the privocrats are to protest the Border Patrol/Mexican government monitoring of the Minutemen .

Yoo-hoo: Malkin

John Derbyshire the last straw.

Andrew McCarthy takes a closer look and adds his usual, invaluable insight:

5/10/2006 06:05:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

"...Will judges be for Egypt what the electrician Lech Walesa was for Poland: leaders of the first independently organized group in society that successfully challenges and then breaks the government's monopoly over political power? Will Egyptian judges who change Egyptian politics also shake up political power throughout the Arab world, as Poland's independent trade union, Solidarity, did in 1980, ultimately sending out ripples that brought down the Soviet empire a decade later? Perhaps. ..."

From the Daily Star in Lebanon.

A little background flavor

5/10/2006 06:14:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

One last item: the demands to free Alaa should be designed with goal of leaving the Egyptian government an "out": a way in which they can accede to the demands without losing face or suffering undue public humiliation. It's not my idea. It Sun Tzu's.

All warfare is based on deception. If your enemy is superior, evade him. If angry, irritate him. If equally matched, fight and if not: split and re-evaluate"

I guess my theory, which is to use the Book of Lenny Bruce/Don Rickles school of Insults does fit into Sun Tzu....

To know the Arab mind is to know they hate humiliation more than death... so humiliate them..

5/10/2006 06:56:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

oh i got it backwards...

you are not supposed to humiliate your enemy...

I guess Mr Tzu never met a beheading, suicide bombing hamas member

5/10/2006 06:59:00 PM  
Blogger HK Vol said...

I was one who emailed the Egyptian Embassy. And I did leave a way out. Give them a scapegoat, there is certainly one available:

If this is true, I would expect your government to be extremely embarassed. I would certainly hope that Assistant Interior Minister Sami Sedhorn is promptly dismissed from your government.


....Assistant Interior Minister Sami Sedhom told the protesters, "You bitc***. You sons of bitc***. This is how it is going to be from now on if you do not behave and know your limits. If you do not behave
you'll have the bottom of my old shoes all over you."

5/10/2006 07:06:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Pork Rinds,

It's an interesting point. But if we want Alaa out on the street maybe it's not such a good idea to turn the issue into a cage match precisely on those terms. You need some way to make it easy for Cairo to say, "sure, spring him" just as if they were planning on doing it anyway.

5/10/2006 07:06:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Unfortunately, the spammers got there first.

Unless an e-mail coems from someone in my address book, it never gets to me directly. I can go look at it, ssnd it to my inbox, have it traced, or simply ignore it and it will go away.

Being constantly bombarded with advertising tends to make people more resistant to propaganda.

Spam - which comprises 70% plus of all e-mail, I hear - has made everyone more resistant relative to hearing unwanted messages.

An attack is going to be treated as spam.

5/10/2006 07:19:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Sedhorn is an interesting choice. As an Assistant Interior Minister, Sami Sedhom is theoretically dispensable, though given the fact that he's from the Interior Ministry Mubarak may feel obliged to support him. I don't know enough about the Egyptian politics but my guess is that people like Sedhom wanted to teach Alaa a "lesson". If they had wanted him picked up they would have done it before, but the demonstration scene may have triggered a fit of anger. Made them see red. So my guess is that Alaa is in Greybar not on the basis of policy, but on the strength of some bureaucrat's whim.

All the attention Alaa got will make the low ranking policemen hesitant to act without specific orders. And that's good because in practice you will get your bruises from the 'oops' elbow and the 'excuse me' punch. My own limited knowledge of these situations is that even in police states there is some paperwork for handling detainees and it's important to have a lawyer. There's a Release Form of some kind and the tactical goal of the Free Alaa campaign is to get that signed. Actionable intel means: a) identifying the process; b) figuring out who signs the release; c) getting on their case until it is easier for Cairo to sign the release (hey, just sign it) than to humor this Sedhom character. We don't have to ask for his dismissal. If Alaa is released it will be a rebuff he will feel right down to his socks.

5/10/2006 07:21:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...


Your right about the Spam defenses. This is where actionable intel comes in. We need to know the which email addresses to send the petitions to. That's more critical than sheer volume. There's always an undefended point.

5/10/2006 07:23:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

The over-riding concern is to be right on the argument. Then, even if the malfeasor doesn't get the 'send', he'll *feel* it--and you'll be the better for having had to marshall your thoughts toward persuasiveness. Hopefully somewhere in there, "right" action emerges.

5/10/2006 07:34:00 PM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

This is great, Wretchard. Now you need to publish the Civilian Irregular Information Defense Group cyber militia manual.

This is how just plain people can influence events.

5/10/2006 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Son and I actually experienced a short golden age in e-mail together when there was no spam!
Sure was a pleasant, efficient and convenient form of communication!

5/10/2006 08:14:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

wretchard said...
It's an interesting point. But if we want Alaa out on the street maybe it's not such a good idea to turn the issue into a cage match precisely on those terms. You need some way to make it easy for Cairo to say, "sure, spring him" just as if they were planning on doing it anyway.

From my read, Cairo will release Islamists, but as for secular liberal arabs, suspect israeli spies and gays, the cause is lost... I almost see the call will be: if you are secular & arab, leave the middle east now... or die.

5/10/2006 08:35:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Sorry, anything that weakens Mubarek strengthens the Islamists. Mubarek begged Bush not to invade Iraq and derided the notion of establishing a democracy. Mubarek was prescient over Iraq. Maybe Mubarek is Voltairian and "May God defend me from my friends; I can defend myself from my enemies. ..."

5/10/2006 08:37:00 PM  
Blogger The Machinist said...

Gred Djerejian, perhaps? Actually I will go look at his site next...

Ah - can't get his mind off Rumsfeld. Talk about still being wet. Still there might be someone, but who? Gee, any volunteers?

I think the problem is that it might be seen to increase Bush's lifespan, poll ratings or intestinal regularity by some small fraction, and thus be unacceptable to so many; or to be beneath notice in comparison.

5/10/2006 08:39:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Here are your principled Republicans.

Conservative House members tried Wednesday to end a requirement in the 1965 law that bilingual ballots and interpreters be provided in states and counties where large numbers of citizens speak limited English.

The House Judiciary Committee rejected the effort.

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said voting in English should pose no problem for any U.S. citizen.

"If you are born in America, you should know English," he said. "If you are a naturalized citizen, you should have passed an English proficiency test."

The committee voted 26-9 against amending the law, which ended racist practices such as poll taxes and literacy tests in Southern states, so it no longer would require the bilingual ballots and interpreters. The chairman, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., expressed regret that the immigration and voting rights issues had become enmeshed.

5/10/2006 08:48:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...


Actually Tzu did some beheading of his own. Beheaded a couple of the King of Wu's favorite concubines in a test of managing soldiers he was performing before the King. At the King's request:

His ART OF WAR brought him to the notice of Ho Lu, King of Wu. Ho Lu said to him: "I have carefully perused your 13 chapters. May I submit your theory of managing soldiers to a slight test?" Sun Tzu replied: "You may." Ho Lu asked: "May the test be applied to women?" The answer was again in the affirmative, so arrangements were made to bring 180 ladies out of the Palace.

Sun Tzu divided them into two companies, and placed one of the King's favorite concubines at the head of each. He then bade them all take spears in their hands, and addressed them thus: "I presume you know the difference between front and back, right h and and left hand?" The girls replied: Yes.

Sun Tzu went on: "When I say "Eyes front," you must look straight ahead. When I say "Left turn," you must face towards your left hand. When I say "Right turn," you must face towards your right hand. When I say "About turn," you must face right roun d towards your back." Again the girls assented. The words of command having been thus explained, he set up the halberds and battle-axes in order to begin the drill. Then, to the sound of drums, he gave the order "Right turn." But the girls only burst out laughing. Sun Tzu said: "If words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, then the general is to blame."

So he started drilling them again, and this time gave the order "Left turn," whereupon the girls once more burst into fits of laughter. Sun Tzu: "If words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, the general is to blame. But if his orders ARE clear, and the soldiers nevertheless disobey, then it is the fault of their officers."

So saying, he ordered the leaders of the two companies to be beheaded. Now the king of Wu was watching the scene from the top of a raised pavilion; and when he saw that his favorite concubines were about to be executed, he was greatly alarmed and hurried ly sent down the following message: "We are now quite satisfied as to our general's ability to handle troops. If we are bereft of these two concubines, our meat and drink will lose their savor. It is our wish that they shall not be beheaded."

Sun Tzu replied: "Having once received His Majesty's commission to be the general of his forces, there are certain commands of His Majesty which, acting in that capacity, I am unable to accept." Accordingly, he had the two leaders beheaded, and straig htway installed the pair next in order as leaders in their place. When this had been done, the drum was sounded for the drill once more; and the girls went through all the evolution, turning to the right or to the left, marching ahead or wheeling back, k neeling or standing, with perfect accuracy and precision, not venturing to utter a sound.

Then Sun Tzu sent a messenger to the King saying: "Your soldiers, Sire, are now properly drilled and disciplined, and ready for your majesty's inspection. They can be put to any use that their sovereign may desire; bid them go through fire and water, an d they will not disobey."

Sun Tzu

5/10/2006 08:48:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Speaking of alternative methods of attacking the Borg, I just noticed the top story on NYTimes describes the difficulties of Palestians now that our aid and others' has been cut off. Virtually all that's asked of Hamas is that they publicly avow Israel's right to exist and their support of a non-existent peace process. They don't want to give us that and thrive substantially on anti-Americanism and provide support for the militant version of that cause? Fine: then we will demonstrate the extent to which we actually prop up your precious non-state. You can't say two propositions, and yet your people begin to starve. Excellent. It will take them beginning to die. Let it happen. And let Bush continually remind everyone exactly why it is happening. The world, and especially the Arab world, needs to be deprived of its paranoid schizophrenic fantasies. THIS is the root cause of the entire WOT. Let the m************* eat their pride.

5/10/2006 09:29:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

If I may, are we over-emphasizing the effects that are achievable? Who but us like-minded souls are reading this...

When it comes down to it, I'll take a pile of rocks and a sharp stick against ASCII characters anytime.

5/10/2006 09:39:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

I'm afraid that internet tactics like this won't work. To be truly effective, we would have to have information that is harmful to the regime. Then our card would be to threaten dissemination, or in the case of non-compliance, actually follow through with dissemination.

Otherwise, unrepresentative autocracies will not feel the pinch.

If there was some information, something we could publish that would cause the Egyptians pain or embarrassment, they would be more wary next time they thought about trying this stuff. But we don't have anything like that.

5/10/2006 10:20:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Put the SouthPark Boys in charge of the operation!

5/10/2006 10:25:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

9:29 PM Dan,
We need to nourish their sick fantasies with MORE welfare!
Sure did work in the past.

5/10/2006 10:29:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5/11/2006 12:23:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Part of me died when I saw this"
...the murder of Atwar Bahjat.

5/11/2006 01:13:00 AM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Doug said...
"Part of me died when I saw this"
...the murder of Atwar Bahjat.

1:13 AM

His post is modest enough to be missed. You must read this. I enclose a small quote. Where did we store that neutron bomb?

"..A large man dressed in military fatigues, boots and cap approaches from behind and covers her mouth with his left hand. In his right hand, he clutches a large knife with a black handle and an 8in blade. He proceeds to cut her throat from the middle, slicing from side to side.

Her cries — “Ah, ah, ah” — can be heard above the “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest) intoned by the holder of the mobile phone."..

Those dirty Islamic murdering pigs. Who came to the conclusion these people are good candidates for democracy?

5/11/2006 04:02:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

Doug & 2164th,

I, too, was deeply affected by the Atwar Bahjat story. But I read that the video itself was a hoax, that it was actually another person whose execution was recorded.

Unfortunately I can't recall where I saw this.

Jamie Irons

5/11/2006 06:10:00 AM  
Blogger nonomous said...


Is there any evidence that "email assault, Google bombs, wikis" have ever had any practical impact?

I know that several political operatives lost their jobs after getting caught using wikis to defame opponents, but I don't know of any wiki entry changing a legislative outcome or pursuading the Senate to approve a presidential appointment.

The most effective online campaign was that waged against Kerry by Swift-boat vets.

Another successful campaign is the continual rear guard battle to keep the bitstream untaxed. Every year since the mid 80s when I got my first modem, I've heard politicians wistfully dream of taxing the bitstream.

Study the successes.

5/11/2006 06:31:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

jamie irons,

6:10 AM - it was actually another person whose execution was recorded

I recall reading that as well.

I recollect reading also that the real Atwar Bahjat was viciously tortured with an electric drill before her decapitation, including having one eye removed.

What sub-species are these monsters? RoP Indeed!

5/11/2006 06:34:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

It might be cruel should remittances somehow come to an end. But it may be even crueler in the long run not to deal with a broken system that facilities such massive transfers - both for millions here in dire need of retaining all their earnings, and millions more in Mexico in more dire need of vast structural reform.

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

And he may have an answer, stop the "free flow" of money going South. End the remittences of nondocumented residents of the US.

There would be screams of protest, but they could be overcome.
The Appeasement lobby will be sure to tell US why it's impossible.

Just like gettin' Osama, or his money men.

But, in reality, it's a "stop it now" at moderate cost or let the real carnage begin, later, moment.

Just like when dealing with kidnappers or insurectionists, as well as other criminals such as those that refuse to obey the Law so they can personally profit.

5/11/2006 06:41:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

I'd be careful using things like "google bombs". Google has a policy of removing a site from its search engine if that site employs 'tricks' to gain a higher google search rating. I don't know if the specific google bomb rises to the level of qualifying that page to be delisted but BMW's german website was delisted from google for a while for embedding code which pushed them up in the rankings.

BMW and Ricoh Germany delisted from Google

5/11/2006 06:46:00 AM  
Blogger 2164th said...

That is a brilliant idea. No banking or Western Union without a legal status. Trouble is it will not work. I will predict that it will take no more than 15 minutes to work around it. It will be like driving drug trafficking under ground. Go after the employers. That will work. and GWB, in case you missed the memo, kindly enforce the border laws. I know it is hard being president but do try a little harder.

5/11/2006 07:00:00 AM  
Blogger 2164th said...

My comment about a brilliant idea was not sarcastic. It is a great idea in concept.

5/11/2006 07:03:00 AM  
Blogger 2164th said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5/11/2006 07:04:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

the campaign against Dan Rather was impressive, but when & where do blogging and e-mail campaigns part ways, now a days?

The NYTimes drops their digital version in my "in" box each morning.

As do others wishing to be read.

37% of web traffic is now to sites developed by old newspaper companies.
Their paid circulation base has been dropping at about 5 to 6% annually for a few years now.

Newspapers, while still cash flow machines are migrating over to the Web, all the more reason for it to become ever more regulated.
There will be need to control the "little guy" from muckin' up the marketplace.

Just like Ham radio, licensing required to broadcast.

It'll be the prudent and compassionate thing to do.

5/11/2006 08:11:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

For whatever it is worth, I have had good luck making points through the use of "snail mail". Yeah, old fashioned, but I’m an old guy. What can I tell ya?

If you do decide to write a letter to some agent or agency of the Egyptian government, do not blog it. Be original, i.e. write your own stuff. Be concise, respectful, non-accusatory, and permit the recipient to come away from the exchange with a modicum of dignity intact - certainly not as much fun as a rant, but in the long-run more effective if one wishes to be more than a nuisance, I have discovered.

For those who have never seen "Miracle on 34th Street", the mass mail drop has a sobering physicality missing from the flow of electrons. Consider this tactic, Operation Cluster Cover.

5/11/2006 08:22:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

For those who become incensed by threads being directed off topic, it really is hard to ignore some intrusions, which will, inevitably, have a seismic impact on the GWOT, which is, I suppose the Thread-of-Threads.

In what appears to be an unprecedented act of patriotism, 640 troops, one gathers recently returned from Iraq, re-enlist en mass! See, “The mass re-enlistment of 640 GIs” @

Now, to introduce the catch that will get some goats, juxtapose the Fort Carson story of exceptional Americanism with this from - “Bush, Fox Join Forces Against "Minutemen".

And for those so inclined, yes, I know that Nose on Your Face is a parody but, then, so was Walter Durante.

5/11/2006 08:42:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The speed of light,
this just in,
Mr Bush will not see a nuclear armed Iran. The Israelis say theat Iran is FOUR years away.
TEL AVIV, Israel, May 9 (UPI) -- The head of Israeli military intelligence predicted Tuesday that Iran will produce nuclear bombs within four years.

and then there is

"... THE beleaguered Government of Lebanon requested Britain’s help yesterday in beefing up the country’s weakened Army and security services. ..."

from the Times online
Britain is asked for security assistance
By Richard Beeston, Diplomatic Editor, and Nicholas Blanford in Beirut

5/11/2006 08:46:00 AM  
Blogger Red River said...

Leave the Egyptian Government an out?

Sun Tzu's Out idea was improved upon by the Mongols.

The Out always led to a well-planned ambush.

I am amused to see Wretchard writing himself into a modern Le Carre role.

Rather than comment from afar, the blogger has now become part of the event.

5/11/2006 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger blert said...

allen, jamie irons

Go to the Jawa Report....

The video victim has a male chest....

So the visuals a recycled.

5/11/2006 09:20:00 AM  
Blogger blert said...


All time line 'officially' uttered are per Sun Tsu the opposite of reality.

It is necessary to create working room for the national command authorities.

Good lord, you have Iran already blowing through every redline. Additional cascade trains will surely provide enough volume to permit multiple bombs via HEU in 48 months.

Iran is already focused on mating a warhead to newly acquired missiles. What does that tell you?

5/11/2006 09:25:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Tells me, blert, that the Coup should come towards the late part of the summer, before the Elections, here.
Support for the Son of Shah or resonable facsimile is very prudent, old family friend and all.

Before the Havana Summitt.

Coups are "old school", but so are the SCUDs the Iranians are using.

5/11/2006 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger blert said...

Here's the Jawa Report on recycled horror:

5/11/2006 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger blert said...

Iranian-Americans are visiting home with some intensity.

The mullahs assume the worst and are tracking anyone with an American passport.

We need to distract the evil eye so Frodo can do his thing.

One must be on guard against agent’s provocateur

5/11/2006 09:50:00 AM  
Blogger 2164th said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5/11/2006 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger Eggplant said...

Wretchard said:

"Since one current measure of a person's fame is whether he has his own personal entry in Wikipedia... "

After I did a search for "wretchard" in Wikipedia (, I was redirected to "Belmont Club". I then did a search for "Richard Fernandez" and was again redirected to "Belmont Club". Someone should fix this because Wretchard certainly deserves his own Wikipedia article.

I have to confess that when I first became aware of Wikipedia, my initial reaction was: "What a cool idea!". I initially believed that Wikipedia would do for general knowledge what Linux did for computer science. I've since written a fair amount of stuff on Wikipedia (mostly technical things related to my profession). However with the wisdom of hindsight, I now see that my initial impression was naive. Unfortunately, Wikipedia maybe causing more harm than good.

Like Wikipedia, Linux is based upon volunteers providing content. However unlike Wikipedia, Linux works because it is very hierarchical. Linus Torvalds is at the top of the hierarchy managing Linux kernels. Linus has done a very effective job of delegating authority to lieutenants who in turn have done a good job of managing the volunteers. If a volunteer is contributing nonsense or buggy code, a lieutenant or Linus himself can intervene. Wikipedia has various administrators who are volunteers. However they are no where near as effective as Linus' lieutenants. The knowledge base of Wikipedia is too large to be effectively administrated by unpaid volunteers. Also computer code tends to be functioning or nonfunctioning (yes, I know about crufty software). However general knowledge has many shades of grey and points of view. Also, Wikipedia has this ridiculous rule that all articles must have a "neutral point of view" (NPOV). This is in keeping with that nonsense liberal bedrock of faith that all truth and morality are relative (there are no absolute truths). Case in point, Wikipedia actually expects one to write about Auschwitz or Hitler with a NPOV. In truth, the Wikipedia article about Auschwitz is well written but also violates the NPOV rule (the rule is selectively enforced).

Wikipedia has a serious problem with vandalism. There are an amazing number of people out there who like to ruin things for no good reason. Trying to write an article on Wikipedia is like trying to build a sand castle too close to the waves of the surf. Take a look at the "history" section of the George W. Bush article and you'll see a good example of the endless vandalism/revision cycle (while you're at it, take a look at the history sections for Auschwitz and Hitler).

My own experience with Wikipedia is that the more arcane and obscure the topic then the better the quality of the information. For example the Wikipedia article on "Apollo 8" is excellent and better than the Encylopedia Brittanica's article. However the general article on "Space Exploration" is poorly written and untrustworthy. Even though I know the Space Exploration article is bad, I would never attempt to revise it because the "surf's waves" would eventually wash away my efforts at repairing the sand castle. This is a fundamental problem with Wikipedia and why it can never be trusted.

5/11/2006 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

Buddy, I have never for a second doubted your sincerity when it comes to Israel or Jews generally. That is why our correspondence has, I believe, taken the highroad. Honorable men may choose to respectfully disagree, with the result, more often than not, that the dialog is enriched.

I readily admit defending Israel, some might even argue monomaniaclly, even when the Israeli government won’t. But, be assured, when the Kurds and Shi’a were betrayed by the first Bush presidency, I advocated just as strongly for them.

Wretchard has introduced a new theme concerning the Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel Fatah. Given Mr. Alaa’s neighborhood, we will agree that he can use all the help he can get. As things now stand, however, he cannot expect much in the way of official US intervention.

In a maddening move of almost insane import, the government of the United States has surrendered any moral authority it might have exerted on Mr. Alaa’s behalf by extracting its own canines and yielding to Hamas. Even administration advocates as staunch as Powerline can do no better than give the perversion restrained condemnation.

In order to aid Mr. Alaa, a fangless Dr. Rice will have to grovel before the Egyptians and with spital flecking gumming, the toothless Dr. Rice will beg Mr. Mubarak’s indulgence. This is not foreign policy, it is Greek comedy, i.e. tragedy taken to the absurd.

Nothing will bring war as quickly as the appearance of fecklessness, something also covered by the inestimable Sun Tzu. This adminsitration is feckless, if conservative Republican opinion makers in the scores may be believed. That is not “Bush bashing”, it is a simple statement of fact, relying upon the considered opinions of such stalwart luminaries as Peggy Noonan. Trying to dress the emporer in imaginary armor fools no one, especially our enemies.

The United States must regain its squandered credibilty. Victory in war demands it. Eventual peace requires it. And men such as Mr. Alaa hope for nothing less.


Baseless Confidence-

5/11/2006 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger 2164th said...

You would have to be a protégé of Dr. Pangloss to not assume the Iranians want the US to attack. They must have calculated that the physical damage of a US air attack will do the following:

1. Rally Iranian nationalism and preclude an
internal insurrection or coup.
2. Drive up the price of oil so high, it will act as
an offset to any economic damage done to
Iran and cause worldwide economic chaos .
3. Rend a wide cleavage between the US and
4. Increase tension between the US, China and
5. Earn Iran great prestige in the Islamic world.

It is obvious the Iranians want the US to attack. A selective culling of the mullatocracy is the smart move. Do not fall for their trap.

5/11/2006 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Can't coup out the gov't; can't neutralize the fedayeen doubling up the security structure. Can't rely on internal revolt, which would in any case look worse than Iraq and not necessarily resolve itself any more cleanly or less Islamistly. I vote we stop trying to be cute and just bomb the yapping monkeylords. The crisis cometh; let it hasten. If the population feels as it is reputed to feel, it will join the top-down revolution we effect; if not, we'll know it was crap to begin with, either essentially or pragmatically. Ultimately it may not matter, since he who controls the present controls the past, and Mr. Salzburger plots behind the First Amendment, "the essence of democracy"... But regardless, let's act honorably, rather than like prevaricating bitches. Cut the knot.

5/11/2006 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

so allen, I see you are upset at the US sending some money toward the Palestinians. Are you equally upset that the Israelis are as well?

5/11/2006 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Don't forget Dubai's $50 Million!
(officially, that is)

5/11/2006 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Can't is such a downer, dan
Of course we can.

Can do!
The Engineer motto

The Democrats stay up late each night, in prayer, for Mr Bush to be so brash, as to start another War.

They'd own the Capital and don't give two hoots about Iran or the Mohammedan bomb.

It would set back Iran's nuclear timeline by only a few years, regardless, while entrenching the Mullahs in power.

Poor choice, I think.

In Eygpt, how does that country move to liberalism with out direct democracy.

The same challenges that our Founders had, a distrust of the mob, while wanting the People represented.

Lessons learned and forgotten before Iraq was ever an issue, but the harvest of our forgetfulness, there, is bountiful.
The mob selected our enemies to rule. While we legitimize the process and the selections.

To follow the same course in Eygpt would be madness. Perhaps the Judges know the path, or perhaps they are off course, as well.

We know the Muslim Brotherhood, those boys, they stay on course, for decades it seems, through thick and thin, powered by faith in their cause.

5/11/2006 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Everybody loves a welfare party!

5/11/2006 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger blert said...

Don't go for the throat: go for the wallet.

I wouldn't even bomb their production facilities: I want to debrief them.

If possible:
take the oil fields intact --
take Bandar Abbas --
sink the Iranian navy --
bomb the guts out of regime control assets --
don't let any NBC missiles get through -- (nuke if necessary)
be prepared for amazing screwball 'off tackle' counter blows --

That is, expect the Iranians to stick it to the Gulf States and assassinate western politicians.
Sleepers will awaken; zombies too.

Expect Syria/Hezbollah to lash out against Israel with WMD. Thus we'll see a tag team grudge match with no reff.

All of the above makes Iran quite the poisoned pawn.

What ever you're going to do -- it best be done quickly. Iran is transitioning from a token nuclear force to the real thing.

5/11/2006 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

I'm starting to feel like a one-trick pony here...

An alternative energy project on a Manhattan Project scale would solve most of our ME problems.

Not Egypt, though.. Oil is scarce there.

Blert has the right idea vis-a-vis the pocket.

5/11/2006 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Allen, I have very little confidence in my own instincts wrt the news flowing out of the entire region--actually, the entire region surrounding this chair on which I sit.

I do understand that things happen, and changes in personal feelings are the result.

But fears and doubts--like everything else--exist within a constellation of other forces in action whether or not obscured by the brightness of the new in the foreground.

Paradox is everywhere--the video of the lady newscaster--the reaction--those bastards are incapable of democracy--leads to "Let's wash our hands"--precisely the intent of the murderers/videomakers.

We out here in citizenland don't have the whole picture of things--we mainly just see interim results as they rise to prominence. If you think we will be better off by degrading the moral authority of those who will be representing our interests for the next thousand days, then, that's politics, that's what makes a market.

And as far as the issue of issues, rat is right--the best route is to cut off the money, go after the hirers of illegals, and at least try to avoid the communist triumph of the huge victory--on the field of their own choosing, that of symbols & ridicule--that any frantic reaction will be. I can still hear them Cubans and Sandinistas laughing in Caracas & Maricaibo watering holes when Carter pulled USA out of the Olympics in response to USSR invasion of Afghanistan.

5/11/2006 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger blert said...

At this point in time it must be assumed that Iran's nasty assets are spread all over the land.

Any obvious target is already reduced to strategic decoy.

From a purely technical point of view you CAN'T bomb away their production line.

Double ditto for their knowledge base.

5/11/2006 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...


Your 10:40 AM - Are you equally upset that the Israelis are as well?

Thank you so very much! I knew you would be the one to ask the question. I also know why, as do serious correspondents, opposed to poseurs and sophists.

YES! Betcha by golly wow...!!!

It’s tough being the dominatrix's toy.

Good try, but no cigar.

5/11/2006 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Secure the borderline,
Prosecute, fine or jail those that employ illegals
Make the money transfers by the undocumented more difficult
Detain and deport those illegals with no visible means of support
Enact a guest Worker program for those wishing to work in the US, with applications only available in Mexico. Those with current guarenteed US jobs would quickly recieve visas, in Mexico.

5/11/2006 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

2164th, your 10:20, picture this--you fear a USA air attack, and have no way of preventing it.

Option 1: pretend there is no reason to attack (but, this had to be blown, by other considerations, and the facts showing up undeniably)

Option 2: Pretend like you *want* to be attacked, so as to wrong-foot your enemy, and take on the aspect of "poisoned pawn".

Is there an Option #3 ? can we foment rebellion, can we decapitate the leadership without a major military attack? I don't know. Hope someone does.

5/11/2006 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Take it easy on Bud, 'Rat:
He doesn't want to address these unpleasant FACTS.
(He asked for them, but does not respond to them. Best to change the subject and impugn the messenger.
Just like Bush.)
Dobbs on Dismal Record of Lies

Addressing the president, Dobbs says up to 3 million illegal aliens continue to cross our border with Mexico each year, with enforcement against illegal employers of illegal aliens in this country all but nonexistent.

"How do you explain that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have all but ended their investigations and inspections of employers that hire illegal aliens? Again, only a rhetorical question, because we all know the answer," Dobbs said.

The CNN anchor goes on to state the "official record," noting only 318 employers out of five and a half million in the U.S. have been fined for hiring illegals since 2001.
In 2004, only three employers were fined.

"That is a dismal record, Mr. President, as dismal as the fact that the number of ICE agents assigned to enforce immigration laws in the workplace has declined from only 240 back in 1999 to now less than 100," Dobbs said.
Reducing enforcement is PROGRESS in our Brave New World, 'Rat!

5/11/2006 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

rat, the senate is batting it arounds this very day--

5/11/2006 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Sorry you find me so offensive, doug. but not gonna go monomaniac again, too many have complained on this thread about that daily dance. All the info is out there now--no need to duel clever posts for our own personal entertainment.

5/11/2006 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Got your links for you Bud.
You're Welcome.

5/11/2006 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Best to move on w/o addressing facts in the links, even in the previous thread.
Guess it was a wasted effort on my part.

5/11/2006 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

right--and thanks for the links--I do read them--Dobbs has quite a following. lets touch bases in a few days--

5/11/2006 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

My last ot:
You call it
"our personal entertainment"
I call it our National Security, Health, and Welfare.
Like Bush, instead of the facts being addressed, labels are applied.
Sad, rather than "entertaining."

5/11/2006 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Whatever you say, ole hoss--

5/11/2006 11:45:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

For those who missed the point of ash’s 10:40 AM post, the Israeli government, yesterday, in conjunction with the Quartet, agreed to pay Hamas protection money. Just like in the movies, some heavies twisted and broke some arms and voila, Israel is going to cough up 50 million to help Dr. Rice’s “deprivation” prone pals the Palestinians. My, wasn’t that simple? And for those so inclined, if the Israelis are doing it, what can be wrong?

Well, what is wrong is that less than a month ago, the government of the United States, through its President and Secretary of State, promised not to fund Hamas. Surely you remember? - “Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.”

For the advocates of the big picture, American vacillation, duplicity, and cowardice are not lost on the Iranians. To be sure, the Egyptian government holding hostage Mr. Alaa had to get the message, as well: America can be had.

When you dance with the Devil, expect to be burned.

5/11/2006 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Bud, we shocked and awed ourselves into a situation where we use our soldiers and marines for IED fodder. That is not a strategy I or anyone else wants to see repeated. I have no confidence in this administration doing anything right. You want to see the results of clear thinking and planning, try and help your mother figure out the Bush Prescription Plan. So my first choice is this crew does nothing. Iran has no natural friends or allies. They sell pistachios and oil for a living. There are plenty of Islamic countries skeptical of Iran. Brazil developed and implemented a strategy to substitute oil. Our morons in congress want to send everyone a hundred dollar check in lieu of an oil policy. Maybe they should send a couple of bags of tortillas and a bottle of quervo gold as well so that can cover all their bases.

The sad fact is we have a president that is doctrinaire in his thinking, unread and unschooled in the craft of statesmanship and has no concept of history. If he posted on this forum, there are dozens of The Belmonted that would eat his lunch. I voted for him twice and accept my personal responsibility for doing so. I have a real dread about this president falling into a well planned strategic trap of the Iranians.

5/11/2006 12:26:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

2164th, I hear ya--esp with Mossad--apparantly--an intel agency in which I have more confidence that I do in the CIA--says the window is a few years open yet.

5/11/2006 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

You know, it's funny, but no one is the least surprised that that "10 years away" just got slapped--hard--across the face.

5/11/2006 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger Ted said...

How about their fax number? Faxes are pretty much unguarded. If you've got a modem, they are easy to fax to and they have to scan the fax before they throw it away.

5/11/2006 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

faxes do work best, with local US Government bodies.
Get a few hundred faxes into a City Managers office, in a town of 500,000, you can cause real turmoil.

How'd that work for a foreign power, I'm not sure, but if they still use heat transfer paper rolls, they'll hate you, fer sure.

5/11/2006 01:11:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

I'd bet we stand by that ten tear window, buddy, slapped or not.

It all depends on the meaning of Slam Dunk, I guess.

But as one of our fellow posters pointed out, the Israeli may well be "strategicly lying".

Another neo-con plot, all these different reports. That's it, a neo-con plot.
Or another by that ever famous Rightwing Conspiracy

It could not be that the Iranians are competent at Statecraft and nobody on our side really knows, could it?

Doesn't Mr Foggo know, fer sure?

5/11/2006 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Doctrinaire it isn't:
(thinking outside the Bag,
...and Bottle)
"Maybe they should send a couple of bags of tortillas and a bottle of quervo gold as well so that can cover all their bases"
Now yer talkin!

5/11/2006 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

Thanks for yesterday’s CIA-Mossad link. I just got around to reading it.

As you may recall, when this site was discussing the case of Ms. Mary O. McCarthy, Wretchard posited the possibility of a KGB connection. (Note, I use KGB generically, rather than Russian, etc.)

Mossad agent (are there really ex-agents?) Uzi Arad does not permit the Muslims the wherewithal to have penetrated the CIA. That is probably true. But does a'Q need to get into the system, if a "friendly" KGB has already done so? There needs to be a whole lot of shakin' goin' on.

5/11/2006 01:21:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

1:19 PM 'Rat,
You know what rwe says about our
Doctrinaire NON-RACISTS when they are judging the competence of our adversaries of different tones.

5/11/2006 01:23:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Where would the KGB learn spying techniques?
From the "Neo-Cons?"

5/11/2006 01:24:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

My last post was addressed to buddy larsen. There was a disconnect between fingers and synapses. Old age sucks!

5/11/2006 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

My last post displays the results of disconnected synapses within my Cranium.

5/11/2006 01:29:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

That's a good point, Allen--I didn't think it that deeply, my thought ended with that depressing recurring vision of the petro-gold piling up under the Mullahs, and wondering how anyone could be so sure they would be "unable" to penetrate *anything* with such wherewithal.

5/11/2006 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

What about pinhead's point?
(for entertainment, only)

5/11/2006 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Don't go needlin, now.

5/11/2006 02:20:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I know:
Just Go!
Hatpin in hand.

5/11/2006 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told Fox News Channel:
"The idea of collecting millions or thousands of phone numbers, how does that fit into following the enemy?"
Maybe he should look for the answer someplace besides in front of a camera.
The Kabuki Dance of the Co-ordinated MSM/Senatorial Cabal is absurd.
Too bad many are to busy to appreciate it.
Worse that some are so craven as to perform in it.
(no context of course:
1997 is prehistory for these purposes)
Is Leahy or Schumer the bigger A-Hole?
Leahy much more destructive, and less funny, imo.

5/11/2006 02:52:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

There is a simple mathematical reason for collecting millions of numbers. If you change phones often your number changes often. If the party you call changes at the exact same time and you call no other number you will be most secure. However, if you call some numbers that did not change their phones and the times are not coordinated it is possible for intelligence gathering to build a grid that points to a group that has a common theme, perhaps a terrorist cell. With as few as seven numbers you have a very high confidence of one unique contact regardless of how many times they change numbers.The critics in congress know this but are lined up in demogogic lock step. I cannot imagine Lindsey Graham is that ill informed about this.

5/11/2006 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

This phone records thing was reported around Christmas last, in the NYT. Yet it's being boomed as the Next New Scandal. Is it aimed at the new CIA nominee? (Instap and Corner have good reports)

5/11/2006 03:54:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

This latest thing on the NSA traffic analysis is part and parcel of the wiretapping (or so I think it reasonable to conclude) program.

I am sure patterns were mined out of the data and quite a few numbers were eliminated from further scrutiny. It makes sense for multiple levels of scrutiny each one getting closer and closer to individuals. My guess is the last level of scrutiny is the eyes and ears of the appropriate level of force.

I am sure our phone number was scrutinized as my wife and I call friends in the UAE regularly, however I know we were filtered out early in the process.

I wonder if every couple of months anohter level of this is going to be dribbled out by the NYT.

5/11/2006 05:17:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...


5/11/2006 06:16:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

doug & buddy,

You know what this is about. The photogenic Donnas will get their free televised face-time during an election year, deliberatively posturing for hoi polloi (redundancy noted). I guess Senator McCain didn't have enough respect for the adaptability of his fellow thespians, or as one of the most intelligent men serving in the Senate, maybe he did.

5/11/2006 06:16:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

So, so tired of the senators.

5/11/2006 06:50:00 PM  
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