July 12, 2005

Seeing how the main page is blank...

I didn't really mean to be out this long, but I thought, well, it would take as long as it took. But, Kiera is back at work, and the main page is blank, so I thought maybe it was time I got back to life.

I found out today that I got into my PhD programme. There are details to iron out in September, but that can wait.

Anyway, so I plan to get back to blogging starting forthwith. I notice, for example, that Doug Merill over at AFOE just misses the reasons why Muslims are having a hard time feeling European - it's not citizenship laws, it's ?the largely unemployed, undereducated, masses of Muslims -- les jeunes de banlieues -- living in the suburban ghettos that ring major French cities". Social exclusion is not about slips of paper, it's first and foremost about security.

Also, I find myself agreeing completely with Edward Hugh on the relative importance of structural differences across the EU when compared to monetary policy. This is why we need to build exactly the kind of "social Europe" so repeatedly rejected by conservatives and business elites, and it is what seems to me to have been at stake in the EU constitution referenda. Not that you'd ever know that from reading the English language press.

And, the BBC's hesitation to use the word terrorist has caused some consternation over at Crooked Timber. This sounds to me like another job for a lexicographer. Words are defined by looking at how people use them, not how they say they use them. As far as I can tell a terrorist is someone who:

  1. uses violence to further political goals I don't approve of.
  2. uses violence against people I can identify with.
  3. operates in a way that undermines my confidence that the relevant authorities will be able to do something to stop them.
It hasn't always meant that, but that's the only definition I've found that fits the way it seems to be used in 21st century English.

Oh, I almost forgot: I want to thank everybody who wrote and linked from their own blogs with kind words after my last post. I'm sorry, I didn't answer anyone's e-mail or comment anywhere. No one was singled out - I really didn't answer anyone - and I don't want to give the impression that I didn't see your letters or your posts. At first, I just didn't want to deal with it over and over again when it was still so fresh and all I wanted was to move on. Then later, it just seemed awkward. But, Kiera and I do appreciate your thoughts and sympathy.

We're doing okay. It's traumatic, but there's nothing to be done but move on and try again.

Posted by Scott Martens at 4:04 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

July 13, 2005

Further evidence that we're living in a Ken MacLeod novel

From The Star Fracton by Ken MacLeod:

Another place, a place unknown except as a rumor [...] The Clearning House: a hierarchial hotline, the secret Soviet of the ruling class, a permanent party - in both senses, an occasion and an organization of the privileged - where everybody who was anybody could socialize in privacy. The place where the Protocols of the Elders of Babylon could be hammered out.

[...] He needed no VR gear to be there, to be out of it - he took it straight from the screens, his mind vaulting unaided into the lucid dream of mainframing.

A virtual reality chat room where the truly powerful can get together and plan that which cannot be planned in public. Just a science fiction conspiracy theory, you say?

From CNN Money:

Chat room kept London markets open

A secret Internet chat room run by Britain's financial regulators helped keep London's financial markets open after Thursday's bomb blasts, regulators said, while financial firms activated security measures in case of further attacks.

The Bank of England, the Treasury and the Financial Services Authority switched on a secure section of their Financial Sector Continuity Web site to talk to major banks operating in the City of London's financial hub about how they were coping. [...]

The site, set up after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, allows regulators to coordinate and communicate with the financial services sector if there is a devastating event such as Thursday's bombings on a London bus and underground trains that killed more than 50 people and injured hundreds.

The Web site has a secure section where the authorities can communicate directly with big banks that are key to the stability of the international financial system. [...]

Posted by Scott Martens at 10:29 AM | TrackBack