Friday, January 18, 2002
questioner: why do we seek fame?
You know, it is good to hide your brilliance under a bushel, to be anonymous, to love what you are doing and not to show off. It is good to be kind without a name. That does not make you famous, it does not cause your photograph to appear in the newspapers. Politicans do not come to your door. You are just a creative human being living anonymously, and in that there is richness and great beauty.
the majority of our lives is based on second hand experience.
Anyway, this is all art, pure and simple. And what is this stuff compared to a couple of web pages I make, or some poems I write, or some painting somewhere? And people say, "I paint for myself, I write for myself, etc." Fine. But you cannot live your life only making things for yourself. In a sense it is selfish to make art to begin with; but it cannot be all you do, to be sure. If you have the leisure time to sit around and think about some painting you're going to make, you should use some of that time to change the entire world. [anatomyofhope! :]
Thursday, January 17, 2002
xanadu! (via metascene)
birdman (via misterpants :)
Wednesday, January 16, 2002
rep. tony hall
rep. rick boucher
Tuesday, January 15, 2002
emergency wardrobe by scott rahin
Before we begin, congratulate yourself. You have once again turned an entirely mundane social act - in this case, dressing yourself in clean clothing - into an exciting, risk-filled endeavor that could make or break your future chances at a happy life. Don't get upset at the way things turned out, at your total ineffectuality when faced with the basic requirements of adulthood, because it's your own fault, and you wanted it this way. Accept that. Now is a time for action, not self-analysis.
Most important, remember that you're in no shape to question your fate, but you are in that unique over-tired space where your inhibitions are down and your basic honesty increased. Use this false confidence to your advantage during the interview; the interviewer will find you surprisingly natural and open.
Monday, January 14, 2002
hey, if you didn't already know home movies on cartoonnetwork's adult swim (10:00 every sunday and thursday) is really good! like it's worth watching :)
also carey sends alveolata noctiluca neonlight for your meditation and amusement! like an esp. trippy episode of mr. roger's neighborhood or 3-2-1 contact :)
Sunday, January 13, 2002
a tale of two currencies
The value of juxtaposing Europe and Argentina is first as a reminder that we do all live in the same world economy and may suffer from similar limitations. Second, the euro, with its single centralized exchange rate, could function like the dollar/peso arrangement in relation to Europe's diversified regions, especially with the accession of Eastern European countries. This in turn should lead us to explore a variety of social mechanisms for organizing money, rather than rely on just one. We have already seen that Argentinians have started creating their own money at
several levels of society. This is just one aspect of a worldwide movement to set up community currencies which has been growing in strength of late. Community currencies point to a fundamental reassessment of the conditions
for economic democracy contained in relations between states, people and money.
money in the making of humanity (first chapter :)
The idea of money as a source of social memory was also crucial for John Locke, who figures prominently in our story as the philosopher who inaugurated the modern age of democratic revolutions. Locke was obsessed with money’s role both in establishing a progressive social order and in subverting it as its criminal antithesis. Indeed, he believed that money launched humanity from the state of nature onto the road to civil government. As long as men’s possessions were limited to perishable products, the scope for property was restricted. Money, by offering a durable store of value convertible against all useful things, unleashed the potential for property accumulation and for the intergenerational transmission of inequality. For Locke, then, money was indispensable to that development of cultural memory on which civilization depends.
We need to learn how to make economic relations that work for us, for each one and for all of us. For some months now I have been writing a book, The Common Wealth: making money for ourselves, with Michael Linton and Ernie Yacub from British Columbia, based on my own researches and their experience in designing and implementing community currencies. Recently they have been engaged as advisers to the remarkable Japanese experiment in 'open money' sponsored by this magazine. We propose here a simple solution to the money problem -- a prescription for any community, association, network or business to create and use their own money system as a closed circuit. These new systems are designed as a complement to conventional money. Community currencies stimulate economic activity when people would otherwise lack the means of participating effectively in the commercial economy. Beyond that they teach us to see how money now works against most people and can be made to work for us.
Saturday, January 12, 2002
two from the wsj from jan. 3
China's New Generation of Leaders Keep
A Low Profile as They Push for Reforms
By CHARLES HUTZLER
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
BEIJING -- Hidden behind high metal gates, the Chinese Communist Party's
Central Party School has long been seen as a graveyard for political ideas
and political careers.
But under Hu Jintao, the party's premier training academy is reaching
out, teaching Western management, inviting in foreign lecturers and
engaging in a once unthinkable debate: how to prepare the party for a
More than academic, the changes under way at the party school provide
crucial insight into the direction Mr. Hu may take China if, as expected,
he becomes leader of the Communist Party late this year, and state
president a few months later. Almost as much of a mystery inside China as
abroad, the 59-year-old Mr. Hu has long worked behind the scenes from
obscure positions deep inside the party apparatus, and now serves as a
state vice president. But a close look at his career reveals a solid record
of reformist accomplishments. And he is surrounded by like-minded
technocrats expected to accompany him into the inner circle.
As a group, these leaders are likely to follow their elders' recipe for
economic liberalization: dropping barriers to foreign investment and
allowing creeping privatization, while still trying to retain state control
over certain strategic industries. But it's in the political realm where
some of the biggest problems lie. The bureaucratic, authoritarian
government is wrestling with guiding a dynamic economy and diverse society.
And it's there that Mr. Hu and his colleagues have left intriguing clues to
possible change. They've initiated programs to bring more-responsive
government, if not democracy, by building a professional civil service and
encouraging greater transparency.
Despite those signs, there is no indication that the new leadership will
ease suppression of political critics, ethnic minorities and other
dissident groups. Mr. Hu himself is notoriously remembered for imposing
martial law to quash independence protests in Tibet in 1989.
None of the key figures would grant interviews for this story. And their
ascent to power isn't guaranteed, given the closed-door bargaining that is
Chinese politics. Still, this new generation appears to command a greater
consensus of support than any presumptive leaders in recent decades.
President Jiang Zemin and the other septuagenarians who have guided China's
stunning economic rebirth over the past decade are expected to step aside
at a party congress next fall, in favor of Mr. Hu and others in their 50s
and 60s. That transition could mark a rare peaceful transfer of power and
could also give China its most reformist government in over a decade.
The generational changeover raises questions about how the new guard,
relatively inexperienced in public life and in dealing with the West, will
govern China's increasingly close and complex relationship with the rest of
the world. None of the leading candidates has lived abroad, unlike the
generation of President Jiang, who studied in the Soviet Union and still
delights in singing "Moscow Nights" in Russian. Mr. Hu has a daughter who
lives in the U.S. under an assumed name, pursuing graduate studies,
according to Western diplomats and others familiar with her story. But he
himself has never been to America and has visited the West just once, with
a two-week debut tour this fall in which he conferred with the leaders of
Russia, France, Germany and Britain.
What can be read from this group's background, however, is notable. They
are accustomed to experimentation in which many groundbreaking policies are
first floated as test balloons. Having come of age in a time of successful
economic liberalization, "they owe their careers to the reforms," says Fred
Hu, a managing director at Goldman
Sachs Group Inc. in Hong Kong who knew Hu Jintao 20 years ago when
both were in the Communist Youth League. The two aren't related.
Born in Shanghai to a struggling tea merchant and raised in a well-off
provincial city nearby, Mr. Hu gained entry to Beijing's prestigious
Tsinghua University in 1959 to study engineering. He entered the capital's
political circles as secretary to a Youth League dance troupe, where he
learned a credible fox-trot. But his career stumbled during the chaotic
Cultural Revolution in the late 1960s, when radical Maoists took over the
school and Mr. Hu was consigned to the impoverished hinterland province of
Then as now, Mr. Hu bided his time. He built houses for a dam project
and rose through the provincial construction bureau ranks until, a decade
later, reforms came and with them a Youth League leadership post and a
transfer to the capital. His rise identified him as a political comer: At
age 39, he became the youngest member of the party's 348-strong Central
Committee and, within a few years, the youngest provincial party leader,
first in Guizhou province and then in Tibet.
Evident even then were signs of pragmatism and independence. In 1982, he
used Youth League newspapers to beat back a conservative campaign that
sought to criticize Western ideas as "spiritual pollution." In chronically
poor Guizhou, he invigorated agriculture sectors by encouraging farmers to
grow cash crops before such policies became popular.
Back in Beijing, Mr. Hu began distinguishing himself as someone willing
to tackle difficult portfolios that touched on the privileges of party
rule. Named to the Politburo Standing Committee, China's top
decision-making body, in 1992, and put in charge of party affairs, he
targeted vested interests that had frustrated reforms and contributed to
public dissatisfaction. He set up rules prohibiting nepotism and
established education and performance standards for promotions. Competitive
exams for some government jobs were tested during his tenure, so
successfully that they are now being expanded from the county to the
provincial level. Still, their use for party and central-government posts
This penchant to quietly redraw the foundations of the system is nowhere
more evident than at the Central Party School. Set behind the gentle,
tree-covered hills and ornate pavilions of the imperial Summer Palace, the
school -- first set up in a communist guerrilla base before moving with the
revolutionary victors to Beijing -- has long indoctrinated cadres in
Marxist dogma. Its campus is typically socialist -- boxy six-story
buildings with no elevators and outdated facilities.
But inside these walls over the past five years under Hu Jintao's
guiding hand, the curriculum has been revised to resemble masters programs
that U.S. universities offer midcareer professionals. About 1,500 students
attend each year, from local party secretaries to state industry executives
and provincial governors. Alongside the theories of Marx and Mao, this
elite bunch also takes a hard look at the rest of the world, studying
economics, politics, legal systems, military affairs and science and
technology. The theories of Nobel Prize-winner Paul Samuelson, whose guides
to capitalist economics are staples of American universities, are required
reading. So, too, is Harvard University professor Jeffrey Sachs'
prescriptive "shock therapy" for dismantling the centrally planned
economies of the former Soviet Union. "This used to be a school for
Communist Party activists. Now it's a school for administrative
professionals," says one veteran party school professor, who wouldn't speak
The school now has its first foreign-policy institute and a revived
center of comparative politics that explores such concepts as separation of
powers and other tenets of Western liberal democracy. Its lively weekly
newspaper, the Study Times, has become a must-read for the capital's
intelligentsia, with articles on technology and the rising tide of
democracy around the globe. The case study, that epitome of the Harvard MBA
program, is becoming a preferred teaching method in a system that has long
favored rote memorization.
Even more striking, the school is seeking help from foreigners, who were
forbidden from entering the grounds until a few years ago. Joint research
projects on the Cold War and the impact of World Trade Organization
membership are being carried out with Harvard University and the Carnegie
Endowment for International Peace. Francois Roussely, president of
Electricite de France, recently lectured on how the French state utility
competes with private companies. British Parliament member Peter Mandelson
explained how the Labor Party captured the political mainstream. Such talks
are feeding a surprising amount of ideological ferment. "There is lots of
open discussion and debate," says Harvard's Ezra Vogel, an East Asia expert
and a former Clinton administration official who has lectured at the
Though Mr. Hu isn't involved in the day-to-day running of the school,
professors say he confers closely with the school's chief administrator,
Zheng Bijian, an aide to four previous communist leaders.
One of their bolder projects touches on the future direction of the
Communist Party itself. At the leadership's behest, the school has begun
studying the collapse of the Soviet Union and one-party regimes in Mexico
and Indonesia, alongside the successful transformation of Germany's Social
Democratic Party and the decades-long dominance of Japan's Liberal
Democratic Party. "Whether the party should reform used to be such a major
issue we were forbidden from discussing it," says one professor. "Now
that's mostly what we talk about."
One of Mr. Hu's likely allies will be current Vice Premier Wen Jiabao, a
skillful technocrat and the leading candidate to replace Zhu Rongji as
premier, with day-to-day responsibilities for managing the government. Like
Mr. Hu, Mr. Wen early in his career worked in poor, rural Gansu province.
The two men share a political patron, a conservative economic planner who
helped get them to Beijing. In the early 1990s, Messrs. Hu and the two men
worked together in handling day-to-day affairs for the party's Central
Under Premier Zhu, Mr. Wen took on the difficult areas of rural
development and finance. With no financial background, he invited in
specialists who helped formulate policies to try to rescue a banking sector
foundering in debt. In 1998, he coordinated a major effort to contain
China's worst flooding in 50 years.
Like Mr. Hu, Mr. Wen has proven himself a political survivor. He has
worked under three consecutive party leaders and avoided the purges that
followed the suppression of the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy movement, a
testament to his competence but also the basis for occasional criticism
that he lacks backbone.
Another figure in a likely Hu administration is Zeng Qinghong, the son
of a revolutionary veteran close to Mao Tse-tung. Mr. Zeng began political
life as an aide in the late 1970s to a revolutionary general before joining
Mr. Jiang in Shanghai and accompanying him to Beijing. Along the way, he
ended a few careers, earning a reputation as Mr. Jiang's henchman.
But Mr. Zeng has quietly staked out a reform agenda that dovetails with
Mr. Hu's work. In 1998, he persuaded President Jiang not to ban "Crossing
Swords," a popular and controversial book written by two Chinese
journalists that pleaded for liberal political change. The following year
after taking over the party's powerful Organization Department -- a
position he still holds -- he allowed experiments to make government more
responsive. His department supervised test elections in some villages for
leadership posts. Local governments were urged to become more transparent
by holding public hearings, setting up hotlines and opening their
legislative sessions to the public. Such measures are intended to quell
rising mistrust between the government and the public -- the subject of a
book-length report that Mr. Zeng's department issued this year that
lambasted official ineptness and corruption for helping feed unrest.
Most of these projects go entirely unheralded, and that too is by
design. Chinese leaders throughout history have cashiered heirs-apparent
when they appeared too independent. Mr. Hu seems to have taken to heart the
advice that a failed successor of Mao Tse-tung's once gave: "Be passive,
passive and passive again." Mr. Hu is known for scrupulously thanking those
around him for their help. He doesn't write the dedications or inscriptions
for public monuments as President Jiang and others in the leadership like
to do. It's Mr. Jiang's calligraphy -- not Mr. Hu's -- that graces a stone
marker in front of the party school. "His essential survival kit is to be
low-key," says Goldman Sachs' Mr. Hu.
Mr. Hu left a perplexing wake in his travels to Western Europe this
fall. Before setting out, he ordered aides to tone down already anodyne
foreign ministry-prepared speeches and meeting notes. Mr. Hu impressed
foreign leaders with his ability to speak without notes, but he didn't
deviate from the government line nor offer up his own views. "You don't
have the feeling you touched something personal," says a Western
Write to Charles Hutzler at
Afghan Refugees in the Netherlands Find
Former Secret Police Are Their Neighbors
By DAN BILEFSKY
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
THE HAGUE -- Stepping into a government immigration office for what he
thought would be another assignment explaining Dutch laws to asylum
seekers, Ahmed Tamim Tayeb was stunned. There was one of the men he held
responsible for the seven months he spent in prison years earlier, for the
electric shocks, for the beatings that rendered his left arm almost
The handlebar moustache hadn't changed. Hessamuddin Hessam looked much
as he did when he was a three-star general in the Soviet-backed Afghan
secret police in the 1980s. Should he confront the former general, Mr.
Tayeb wondered, or run away?
The other man acted first. "No Afghans," he told a Dutch official,
dismissing Mr. Tayeb with the wave of a finger. "Get me an Iranian."
Mr. Tayeb rushed from the immigration building. Eight years later, he
remains baffled and frightened by the encounter. "I never imagined escaping
from Afghanistan only to find the people responsible for my torture living
on my doorstep," he says. Mr. Hessam, who lives near the Hague, denies any
involvement with torture.
Since 1980, Afghans fleeing turmoil in their country have flocked to the
Netherlands, drawn by the small country's generous immigration rules and
state subsidies. The Dutch have granted refuge to nearly 25,000 Afghans
during that period, more than any other European nation and about the same
number as the U.S.
The immigrants here include thousands who say they were persecuted by
the former Afghan secret police, known as the Khad. They also include
former Khad officers who served during the brutal Soviet occupation of
Afghanistan from 1979 through 1989. As rival factions attempt to form a new
government in Kabul, the ethnic and political antipathies that have fueled
two decades of civil war plague the lives of refugees in Europe.
In the Netherlands, alleged oppressors and oppressed live in the same
cities, some in the same neighborhoods, with often-agonizing consequences.
For those who were tortured, there are anxiety attacks, streets to be
avoided, and deliberations about revenge. For the former officials accused
of directing or condoning torture, there is ostracism and fear of
These are the strange terms of coexistence in places around the globe
for former foes who are refugees of civil strife in their homelands. In
Sydney, Australia, Cambodian victims of the savage Khmer Rouge regime of
the 1970s live alongside alleged former tormentors. In Brussels, four
Rwandans were sentenced to prison terms of between 12 and 20 years each
last year for their roles in the 1994 Hutu genocide of that country's Tutsi
minority. Yet Tutsi emigres in Belgium now have Hutus for neighbors. And in
parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan, members of the fallen Taliban live next
door to those they repressed until recently.
In the Netherlands, Mr. Tayeb says he plots his days so he won't run
into Mohammed Aref Sakra, a former Khad deputy minister who lives nearby in
Utrecht, a canal-lined city close to the Hague. On trips with his
12-year-old daughter, Mr. Tayeb, who is 38 years old and arrived here in
1983, avoids neighborhoods where former Khad generals live. He was
imprisoned in 1982 as an 18-year-old activist opposing the Soviet
occupation, he says. Today, he supports his family with a variety of
part-time jobs but generally uses only his first name, trying to remain as
anonymous as possible. "The Khad know people who can rough you up," he
says, marking an X next to Mr. Sakra's house on a map.
There aren't any such attacks documented in the Netherlands. Former
victims of the Khad say they have occurred but decline to give specifics,
saying they fear retribution. Mr. Sakra denies involvement in any sort of
hostility in Holland and says former Afghan rivals in Europe live in
Mr. Tayeb and fellow refugee Mohammed Farhood both did time at the Khad
prison at Pul-e-Charkhi, described in a 1991 Amnesty International report
as a torture center where sleep deprivation, electric shocks and
beard-pulling were routine. The men, who are now Dutch citizens, deny
having participated in any violent opposition to the Soviets. These days,
they meet at a cafe in Utrecht to talk about legal arguments they could
marshal in a hypothetical war-crimes case against the former generals. Mr.
Tayeb devotes many evenings to studying Afghan constitutional law and
histories of Nazi Germany. But the friends admit they don't have any proof
that the ex-generals personally ordered their torture -- a critical element
in such a case.
Dutch prosecutors say they have investigated ex-Khad officers, but few
victims are willing to testify against former oppressors who are now
neighbors. The Dutch Ministry of Justice says that since 1998, it has
received about 150 complaints against members of the former Communist
Afghan government. Forty-nine cases have been investigated. Prosecutors
have dropped them all because of insufficient evidence. Messrs. Tayeb and
Farhood haven't filed complaints.
"We are sure these [ex-Khad] people did things against the law," says
prosecutor Marlaan De Roose. "But we do not have the resources to send
investigators to Afghanistan."
For Mr. Farhood, 41, the past returned most horrifyingly shortly after
he arrived in the Netherlands in 1998. In a cemetery during a funeral
service for an Afghan friend, he says he saw the Pul-e-Charkhi guard who
had shocked him with electric currents delivered through probes attached to
his fingers and penis. When the former guard appeared to recognize him, Mr.
Farhood bolted, running 10 blocks before stopping to calm himself down.
A few months later, at an Afghani folk-music concert in Frankfurt, he
says he and two friends recognized a different Khad agent who had tortured
them. The trio waited for intermission, then accosted the man as he made
his way to the bathroom. Mr. Farhood says he smelled vodka on the
ex-agent's breath, as he had in prison. The three friends hustled the
ex-Khad man out of the concert hall to a deserted area. They shoved him to
the ground and then fled.
Frail and hunched, his body covered with scars, Mr. Farhood lives in a
state-subsidized apartment in Utrecht with his wife, Loona, and their five
children. Suffering nightmares and anxiety attacks he associates with the
proximity of the former Khad officers, he recently admitted himself to a
psychiatric hospital in Utrecht, where he remains an in-patient. His wife
says he has been obsessed with tracking down Khad interrogators who
tortured him. As part of his therapy, he draws pictures and writes poems
about Pul-e-Charkhi. An excerpt: "I'm tired of getting up to the sound of
prisoners' screams early in the morning/Don't bring stories about new pains
if you come to meet me."
The former Khad officials in the Netherlands worked for the government
of Mohammed Najibullah, the Soviet-installed president, who was hanged by
the Taliban in 1996. The United Nations Commission on Human Rights in a
1986 report said the Khad held as many as 50,000 political prisoners during
the Communist era. The post-Najibullah Afghan government said that the Khad
had executed 15,000 prisoners during the first 20 months after the April
1978 coup that brought the Communists to power. Opposition leaders claim
80,000 were killed under the Communists.
Mr. Hessam, the ex-general Mr. Tayeb encountered in the Dutch
immigration office, commanded 8,000 troops in the city of Herat in the
1980s. He later headed Khad military security and then served as military
attaché in Moscow.
Sitting on a faded green-velvet sofa in his cramped apartment in the
town of Bos Koop, Mr. Hessam, now 53, says he remembers Mr. Tayeb from
their encounter in 1992. He says he dismissed Mr. Tayeb that day because he
didn't trust former political foes. Now, the former general says he is
being targeted in a smear campaign.
"I was a military officer, and I had nothing to do with anything that
happened in the prisons," he says. He shows off a photograph of his younger
self in military uniform, a blanket of medals on his chest. An admirer of
the Russians since childhood, he had hoped some of Russia's power would rub
off on Afghanistan. The military campaigns he led defended the country
against mujahedeen who were launching rocket attacks against Kabul, he
says. But the ex-general regrets "some bad things" that happened under the
Communists. "What was I supposed to do after the Soviets invaded, leave the
country? I had no choice. I had a family to support," he says, his eyes
Now he is a man without a country. The Dutch have denied his repeated
requests for asylum, citing his tenure as a Khad general. He isn't allowed
to work or hold a Dutch passport. He had to miss his brother's burial in
Pakistan last year, for fear that Dutch authorities would arrest him upon
his return, he says.
The government does provide Mr. Hessam, his wife and seven children with
$730 a month, about the same subsidy per person paid to other refugees. He
complains that it isn't enough. He says he has had a toothache for two
years he can't afford to treat.
He spends hours each day studying Dutch in hope of gaining favor with
immigration authorities and has achieved near fluency. He attends
Afghan-emigre parties but says he retreats to the corner rather than face
questions about his asylum status. He warns his children to be careful of
making friends with the children of former mujahedeen, who may hold grudges
against the family. "I am mentally exhausted," he says.
For now, he bides his time, editing a political newsletter he
distributes to other Afghan refugees. He writes in a cramped study, where a
leather-bound copy of the Quran sits on a mahogany cabinet next to a framed
photograph of President Najibullah. In November, he and more than 100
former members of the Najibullah government met in Utrecht to discuss their
political futures. In a peaceful, democratic Afghanistan, Mr. Hessam says
he would like to return to his home province of Paktia and run for
Professing eagerness for reconciliation, he says he would now meet Mr.
Tayeb and other former rivals. But Mr. Tayeb, who says he plans to remain
in the Netherlands, wants nothing to do with the former general. "You have
to ask yourself who are the good guys and who are the bad guys," Mr. Tayeb
says. "There has to be a difference."
Write to Dan Bilefsky at
Friday, January 11, 2002
abstracts! nonextensive 2001 was moved out to april from last october. lots of papers being presented, from a reformulation of black-scholes to how to measure information (or ignorance :) by murray gell-mann. and a ton more i don't understand :) but all using tsallis entropy! (cosma shalizi btw has a nice def for effective complexity: the complexity of a process ought to be measured by how much information is needed to predict its future behavior)
btw, site redesign brought to you by the color of the universe! (0.269, 0.388, 0.342 :)