When you hear rumbling noises on the Fourth, it won't be fireworks, but the Founding Fathers all spinning in their graves as one.
Well, some good news in America lately, anyway. Bill Gates and Microsoft lost the first round. And Elián and Juan Miguel won the last one. Of course, that case is over, for good; the Microsoft mess has at least a few months to go. Still, it's nice to see Judge Penfield has taken the issue seriously. And, as I remarked to Jon last week, regardless of how you feel about Microsoft, regardless of whether or not you believe the company is a monopoly or engages in unfair business practices, the fact is that Bill is too smug and too cocky and too used to getting his way.
What the hell is going on in the Middle East? The Palestinians are pushing Israel too hard, particularly in light of the fact that Barak is struggling to keep his government together. Does Arafat think he'll fare better with a different prime minister? I doubt that he would. Israel itself is sending mixed messages and needs to make it perfectly clear to its partners in the peace process that a just and lasting peace is what it wants. We all know Israel can fight. Now let's see if Israel can compromise. Speaking of which, the new Assad (hopefully not the same as the old Assad) should have the rhetoric toned down just a bit. He has the opportunity to forge the peace with Israel that his father never attained. Lastly, Lebanon needs to assert itself master of its own domain finally and politely ask the Syrians to depart as swiftly and neatly as the Israelis did.
I haven't quite made up my mind about the missile defense shield yet. Russia, the European Union, and others have a valid concern: having a defense against the world's nuclear stockpiles gives a nation an advantage, and could embolden that nation to strike anywhere without fear of serious retaliation. If the decision is made to develop such a shield, then nuclear-capable nations could also feel it necessary to attack before the defense is ready, while they still can. On the other hand, the U.S. has a point, too: the Cold War has ended, and the threat of nuclear war involving global superpowers is greatly reduced, but there are these so-called 'rogue states' which have already shown a willingness to antagonize the United States and other powerful nations by means of covert terrorist attacks. The possibility of a nuclear attack from such a rogue state does exist, and needs to be addressed.
Robert Heinlein wrote a short story which concerned the latter half of World War II and its aftermath, and I have to wonder if his solution might not have been the best thing after all. In the story, it was a radioactive dust that was used against Germany, instead of atomic bombs against Japan. Immediately upon Germany's surrender, a new organization was formed, to which the dust was entrusted, and all nations of the world were warned to turn over any aircraft capable of transoceanic flight or suffer the same fate as Berlin. The gist of the story: if you have a powerful weapon which can eventually be duplicated by others, use it, or the threat of it, at once to establish a stranglehold and enforce peace from without. Sounds ugly, I admit. But is a benevolent autocracy, or technocracy, which ensures peace with the threat of swift and terrible action that much worse than the decades of Cold War, during which so many people feared that the Hot War would flare up at any time to sear the world? I don't know. Ask me again tomorrow. I mean, even now the possibility of nuclear Armageddon, greatly diminished, still remains with us.
You didn't really think I'd get through a whole rant without mentioning Chechnya, did you? ;) I realize the Russians have a bear face to save, but, really, quit while you're ahead (in a way). The reality is that Russia could defeat the Chechens, if she were willing to spend the money and the lives to do it. But the conviction necessary is not there, save for in the mind of Putin, and probably some of the upper brass of the military. Chechnya is Russia's Vietnam, and the sooner they realize that and bow out, the better for Moscow. The Chechen rebels seem quite willing to keep fighting indefinitely, and if it's true that Afghanistan or anyone else is supplying them with fighters and/or equipment, then they could well outlast the Russkies even though they'll never outgun them.
Went to the PC Expo in New York this week. It was fun, but I've been to better. iomega never disappoints, though; my mp3.com bag now sports a new blue "It's my music, I promise" button along with the older yellow "i surf naked." Heh-heh... I was also quite surprised to see that there is a professional Mac emulator for the Windows platforms! I'm going to have to follow up on that, but this could change everything for me. I'm seriously thinking about getting a high-end laptop, and I've been thinking Mac, because I'd want a machine that can run both operating systems, and until now that's never been an option with a Wintel computer. I love the Macintosh to begin with, but the prohibitive factor with Apple has always been the cost. If I now have the option of running the MacOS on a lower-cost PC laptop... Ugh, I don't know, though. There's still the loyalty factor. Do I really want to give my money to Dell or Compaq instead of Apple? Well, still got some research to do on the product. What do you think? - A