Monthly Archives: December 2010


John S. Quarterman has some thoughts on Our Friend Unfairly Maligned in London’s Court at Perilocity.

I haven’t written about any of this myself because my thoughts seem pedestrian to me: I think there’s a huge difference between a leaker and a recipient of classified information. The leaker commits an act of civil disobedience, and takes the risk of severe consequences, although one hopes bounded by due process and humanity. The constraints on the recipient are — and/or should be — strictly moral ones, not legal ones, or journalism as we know it is over. Legally, WikiLeaks is like the New York Times, or rather, as regards US law, the UK’s Guardian. This ought to be too simple to even need repetition, although sadly that repetition seems necessary.

The moral questions can be much more complicated, especially if an unredacted leaked document puts lives at risk. In the most recent document dump, however, WikiLeaks defused most of the moral issues as regards itself by using expert intermediaries: as I understand it, it gave the documents to various quite well respected newspapers, and let them decide what to print, what to withhold, what to redact. So the choices were outsourced to experts, and thus so too a good share of the moral responsibility.

As regards the legal cases now underway in London and Sweden, I feel too ignorant to say much, except that the whole thing looks odd to me, starting with the local Swedish prosecutor’s decision not to bring charges being supplanted by a different prosecutor in the capitol, and going forward via odd steps (Interpol? Most wanted?) to the present day proceedings in London (no bail?). But without knowing far more about the relevant local law, I don’t feel justified in doing more than asking questions.

The sight of US legislators and other fomentors baying for Assanage’s head is ugly as sin — in fact, in some cases it is sin — but it’s also now par for the ugly course on which my fellow voters have set the ship of state.

Posted in Law: Free Speech | 2 Comments

Stop Windows from Copying Files Accidentally When Ctrl-Click Selecting

Fixing Annoyances: Stop Windows from Copying Files Accidentally When Ctrl-Click Selecting :: the How-To Geek

[Original draft 5/10/2008. In preparation for my blog redesign, I’ve been going through draft blog posts that somehow never made it to publication. This is one of them.]

2010: Since I implemented this fix, I’ve never had the problem again.

Posted in Software, Zombie Posts | 2 Comments

Richard Holbrooke’s Last Words

“You’ve got to stop this war in Afghanistan.”


Update: Then again, maybe not exactly.

Posted in Politics: International | Comments Off on Richard Holbrooke’s Last Words

Rule of Law

Suppose that after Bush v. Gore, someone had proposed as a testable hypothesis that an administration that took office thanks to a court ruling of dubious fidelity to stated norms of the rule of law would govern in defiance of those norms.

What would we say today about that hypothesis?

It’s “looking good“?

(Bonus legal contortion.)

[Original draft 12/19/2007: In preparation for my blog redesign, I found draft blog posts that somehow never made it to publication. This is one of them.]

2010: As we’ve just passed the 10th anniversary of Bush v. Gore, it seems like a time to post this, although people are starting not to care, which is itself a bad sign. The Obama administration’s decision not to prosecute anyone important from the Bush administration will surely come back to haunt us as it amounts to de facto legitimation — or at least acceptance which will in time be treated as legitimation — of their tactics. So even if the Obama appointees are more inclined to follow the rule of law than were their predecessors, they’ve still set it back in the end. It’s odd to have an administration that is both so Caeserist (or is that Bonapartist?) as regards state power and yet so often so inept at using political power. Unless of course they are in fact getting just what they wanted.

Posted in Civil Liberties | Comments Off on Rule of Law

Richard Holbrooke, RIP

Another, if rather grim, reminder of how lucky I am to be doing so well.: Veteran Diplomat Richard Holbrooke Dies

I’ve read that if you don’t make it to the hospital within an hour of the aorta bursting, that’s pretty much it for your chances. I walked in maybe 20 minutes after the back pain started, and ended up collapsing in the receiving area of the emergency room while answering the paperwork questions. Which if you are going to pick a place to collapse is not such a bad choice.

Since my discharge from the hospital, I’ve met a lot of medical personnel and EMTs who tell me that a burst in the aorta is one of the things that they train for, over and over — but not something they see that often. And clearly, a walking, talking, fairly hale survivor is even more unusual.

Earlier: Aortas in the News.

Posted in Personal, Science/Medicine | 3 Comments

I So Don’t Do This Networking Stuff

How to Save the World, a blog I generally like, has a repulsive essay, The Ten Keys To Effective Networking.

The item is repulsive in part because it credibly argues that careers are furthered by treating people as means rather then ends, by selling yourself in a soundbite, and the display and exchange of favors. I’m fine with the exchange of favors stuff — I’m not that much of an ivory tower guy — and I understand that there are times in life when you have to sell. But the idea that you “prune your networks” (abandon people who are not useful), and “understand that every conversation is an implicit contract” (nothing can be abstractly interesting?) is just too much like what I least liked about living in Washington D.C.

And yes, there are a bunch of neat people I’ve met over the years that I wish I kept up with. Life just gets in the way.

[Original draft 3/21/2004. As part of my blog redesign, I’ve been going through draft blog posts that somehow never made it to publication. This is one of them.]

2010: I was reminded of this last night: we went to a very swanky law school event at an large and quite elegant home some small ways south of here. The guest list was studded with important people and large donors.   I didn’t recognize many of them, and ran away from one of the few I did — a right-wing local congressperson — since it seemed like an occasion where I should be polite.   We spoke to a few people we knew.  We went home.

Posted in Readings, Zombie Posts | 6 Comments