Yahoo for Shockwave?

The past weekend saw a couple of threads on dirGames-L about the new Shockwave Player update, which includes a Yahoo! toolbar as a part of the install in addition to the ever-popular shockwave.com redirect.

Troy Hipolito of shockwaveserver.com kicked off the “Yahoo b + SW install official word?” subject on Friday, with 4 questions that were answered by Macromedia Director Product Manager Tom Higgins. Of course, a number of others added their thoughts as well.

On Saturday, first-time poster Peter Witham of Evolution Data posted a thoughtful rubric under the heading “Yahoo (Shockwave) player my take”.

Take my Yahoo! toolbar, please!

Tribute

Three years ago today, a man dragged my 83-year-old grandmother from a bed at her caretaker’s home and shot her.

Margaret Baker was someone whose interest in books and writing inspired my own. The intelligence she passed down through my father’s side of my family is something I’ve been exceedingly thankful for all my life.

NPR: GI Says Fellow Soldiers Beat Him in Cuba Prison

From Morning Edition:

A U.S. soldier seeks compensation from the U.S. military for injuries he sustained in beatings allegedly administered by fellow American soldiers at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The soldier was playing the role of a uncooperative detainee in a training exercise; his accused attackers were not informed the incident was staged. NPR’s Jackie Northam reports.

Evidence just keeps piling up — perhaps the wrong metaphor.

Like Mother, Like Son: A Beautiful Mind

The quote’s over a year old, so I’ll let you read other peoples’s commentary on it, but it was mentioned on the front page of the June 8 Wall Street Journal in a front-page article titled “For Antiwar Vets, Former Comrades Are Toughest Sell,” spread across the jump to A8:

“…in March 2003, in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” [Barbara Bush] the former first lady complained that TV newscasts were speculating too much about the impending war. “Why should we hear about body bags and deaths?” she said, adding, “I mean it’s not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?” [emphasis added]

Lingo Job

Kristl Honda of Clark College in Vancouver, WA passed this note on to me:

Programmer I Macromedia Lingo
Posted 6.2.2004

Major duties and responsibilities include creating new and modifying existing Macromedia Director Lingo scripts. Job requires understanding of Macromedia Director, Flash and Lingo. Experience with XML, HTML, PHP, SQL and Linux is a plus.

Please send resume to Oregon Center for Applied Science, Inc., 1839 Garden Ave., Eugene, OR 97403, e-mail: hr@orcasinc.com or fax: 541-342-4270. No phone calls, please.

If you want any info about Eugene, I can give my impressions from growing up there, but they are about 15 years out of date. A lot of people like it there!

Pick the Father of America

Senator Trent Lott (R-MS):
“This is not Sunday School, this is interrogation, this is rough stuff.”
Talk show host Michael Savage:
“Instead of putting joysticks, I would have liked to have seen dynamite put in their orifices.”
Senator James Inhofe (R-OK):
“I’m probably not the only one up at this table that is more outraged by the outrage than we are by the treatment.”
Talk show host Rush Limbaugh:
“This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation and we’re going to ruin people’s lives over it and we’re going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time. You know, these people are being fired at every day. I’m talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You ever heard of need to blow some steam off?”
White House counsel Alberto Gonzales:
“The Office of Legal Counsel of the Department of Justice has opined that, as a matter of international and domestic law, GPW [Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War] does not apply to the conflict with al Qaeda.”

In a review of Washington’s Crossing by David Hackett Fischer published in the May 27, 2004 issue of The New York Review of Books, Edmund S. Morgan relates two episodes from the book. After the Battle of Long Island, Hessian and Highland troops bayonetted unresisting rebel troops. After the Battle of Princeton, American officers watched as their wounded troops were murdered by British infantry.

Despite this, General George Washington gave these orders to the officer placed in charge of the 211 prisoners taken at Princeton:

“…treat them with humanity, and let them have no reason to Complain of our Copying the brutal example of the British army in their Treatment of our unfortunate brethren.”

I guess that sort of points out the difference in moral character between the father of our country and the morons influencing things these days.

It’s Not World War II

From the White House to TIME magazine, comparisons between the war on terror and World War II are flying fast and thick. With the 60th anniversary of the Normandy invasion this weekend, the dedication of the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C., and a political campaign underway, that is perhaps understandable — but most of the comparisons miss the mark by ignoring the vast differences between the two endeavors.

The Second World War earned that designation because it truly was a war fought across the face of the globe. Major powers involved on both sides of the conflict fielded forces with millions of soldiers, tens of thousands of planes and tanks, and thousands of ships and submarines. In the United States alone, over 16 million citizens served in the Army, Navy, and Marines during the course of the war1, out of a population of about 130 million2 — nearly one-eighth of the population. With 290 million Americans today3, the current combined size of the armed forces and National Guard is about 2 million4,5. The proportion of service people to the general population was 17 times larger during World War II.

That disparity in scale is just one of the ahistorical notes struck over the past couple of weeks. In TIME‘s coverage of the D-Day anniversary, it seemed as if the links between the two wars were intended to bolster the case for the cover headline: “D-Day: Why It Matters 60 Years Later”. By giving the two wars equal weight, TIME was probably trying to make D-Day relevant to an audience of an age too young to have even been eligible for service in Vietnam. One caption reads: “Like [General Dwight D.] Eisenhower, [General John] Abizaid is facing the challenge of a generation, and the military campaign is only part of the battle”.6 In 1944, Eisenhower was planning the invasion of a continent that had been taken over, fortified, and held for four years by a an enormous German military force that was on a technological par with the Allies. Although Germany had been losing in Italy and on the Eastern Front by that point, there was still serious doubt about the success of the Normandy invasion. Decisions Eisenhower had to make sent thousands of Allied soldiers to their deaths — and that was if the plans went off without a hitch. The Iraq theater is terribly dangerous for the soldiers on the ground, but to equate the burdens of the commanders or political leaders involved is absurd. Iraq hasn’t had functional air power since it was destroyed during the first Gulf War. The American force unleashed on Iraq’s army in 1991 pushed it from Kuwait in a matter of days (after several weeks of bombing), and it collapsed again in 2003. The various groups fighting a guerilla war against American troops in Iraq don’t have tanks or sophisticated equipment, their primary advantage is operational camouflage: the ability to move relatively undetected through the population.

Another problem with these comparisons is their tunnel viewpoint. In his remarks on June 2 at the Air Force Academy graduation, President George W. Bush said: “Like the Second World War, our present conflict began with a ruthless, surprise attack on the United States”.7 Of course, by “our” he meant America’s involvement, but by framing the Second World War in that manner, he ignored years of aggression by the Axis powers: Japan’s invasions of Manchuria and China in the 1930s; Italy’s colonization of Ethiopia in 1936; Germany’s annexation of Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938; invasion of Poland in 1939; invasion of Holland, Belgium, and France in 1940; the Battle of Britain, the Blitz, and invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. France and the United Kingdom declared war on Germany, Italy, and Japan over two years before America joined the battle, and they paid heavily for it, as did citizens in every country occupied by the Axis powers and even many citizens of the Axis countries themselves. Hundreds of civilians died in nightly bombing raids on both sides during the war.

It’s a viewpoint that ignores or trivializes the contributions and sacrifices of other countries and peoples, by limiting the discussion to the impact only on America and Americans. Equating World War II and the war on terror brings that minimization full circle by discounting even the costs of the American generation that fought the war. On the average, over 200 U.S. military personnel were killed every day for more than 1,300 days.8 That was the reality for leaders like President Franklin D. Roosevelt and General Eisenhower, and for the American people during the early 1940s. Pretending that the current war is comparable, that American history has somehow been modified as drastically by its conflict with terrorism as it was by the conflict with fascism — for whatever reason — discounts the sacrifices of millions of Americans.

Notes:
1 Universal Almanac (1994), p.126, citing U.S. Department of Defense, Defense 91 (1991)
2 Universal Almanac (1994), p.282, citing U.S. Bureau of the Census, U.S. Summary, Number of Inhabitants (1981)
3 U.S. Bureau of the Census Web home page
4 U.S. Department of Defense Directorate for Information Operations and Reports, Active Duty Military Strength by Fiscal Year – FR 1950 through FY2002.
5 Army National Guard web site, Financial Statements 2003.
6 TIME, May 31, 2004, p.42
7 White House web site, President Bush speaks at Air Force Academy Graduation.
8 Universal Almanac (1994), p.126, citing U.S. Department of Defense, Defense 91 (1991). Calculation based on 291,557 battle deaths over the period between December 7, 1941 and August 15, 1945: 1,347 days.

Keeping It Real

On November 13, 1988, an Ethiopian student living in Portland, Oregon ran into the wrong people. Mulugeta Seraw had no idea that the handful of young adults who set upon him and two friends talking in the street early on a Sunday morning were out looking for blacks to attack. By the time they were done, Seraw had been beaten to death with fists, baseball bats, steel-toed boots, and other weapons.

The perpetrators belonged to a home-brewed skinhead gang calling themselves East Side White Pride. As police rounded up members of the gang, a story emerged of an instigator, following the lead of a white supremacist publisher named Tom Metzger.

Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center represented Seraw’s son in a wrongful death lawsuit against Metzger, linking his organization and newspaper, White Aryan Resistance (WAR) to statements that SPLC alleged “incited violence against blacks and Jews,” in a wrongful death lawsuit filed a year after Seraw’s death. The lawsuit was awarded a judgment of $12.5 million in October, 1990.

Question No. 2 of the judgment form asked the jury: “Did one or more of the California defendants [Metzger, his son John, and WAR] — through their agents — substantially assist in, or encourage, the conduct of the Oregon defendants [Kenneth Mieske and Kyle Brewster] that caused the death of Mulugeta Seraw?” The answer was yes, for all three California defendants.

Which brings us to the New York Times.

On May 26, the Times published an Editor’s Note about its coverage of issues leading to the war in Iraq, admitting “…a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been.” It goes on to state: “In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged — or failed to emerge.”

The Times‘s incomplete coverage helped foster a climate of pro-war sentiment in this country. As an increasing number of critics have pointed out over the past eighteen months, its reportage of Iraqi WMD capabilities by the Bush administration and others was often reliant on unprovable and even demonstrably false claims. In this, the Times Editor’s Note says the blame lies not only with individual reporters (such as Judith Miller, who is not named in the note by who is the co-author of several of the indicated articles), but also editors “at several levels who should have been challenging reporters and pressing for more skepticism were perhaps too intent on rushing scoops into the paper.”

The Times, of course, was far from alone in this. Few if any of the major news outlets in this country were even slightly skeptical about even the most outlandish claims made by the Bush and Blair governments. Some, such as the FOX News Channel, actively promoted the war, and derided critics. They still do.

As the SPLC’s suit against Metzger shows, persons advocating violence in the media have been held responsible even for acts they didn’t specifically orchestrate and were not directly involved in. In fact, the suit filing claimed only that Metzger’s materials “…incited violence against blacks and Jews, specifically encouraging skinheads, and the Oregon defendants in particular, to use baseball bats and steel-toed boots as weapons against blacks and Jews.” No claim was made in the filing that Metzger knew Seraw or the perpetrators of the murder.

Freedom of speech and the press are the most important right we have as citizens in the United States. That’s why they’re right up there in Amendment I of the Bill of Rights. Press freedom should be attached to a certain amount of responsibility, though, particularly when people’s lives are at stake.

How far would the administration have gotten with its war plans if the Times and other news organizations had given stories exposing WMD claims as frauds the same weight as the original claim? What if they’d waited for verifiable sources before they printed a story claiming Saddam had nuclear capabilities? Tracing sources is what led to the exposure of Jayson Blair at the Times and Stephen Glass at The New Republic. But nobody got killed over their stories.

There have been over 800 American casualties in Iraq as I write this, with over 4,600 wounded. That’s an awfully large number of potential lawsuits. If the American media thought the climate was bad after the FCC’s crackdown over Janet Jackson’s nipple, what will the reaction be when someone gets the bright idea to accuse news organizations of causing the battlefield death or disabling of their child, spouse, or parent by filing a suit that asks “Did one or more of the media defendants — through their agents — substantially assist in, or encourage, the war in Iraq that caused the death of Pvt. _____?”