links for 2008-11-30

30 Nov
  • Prayer is often seen as a form of theft, a guilty misappropriation of another's hope. But far from being an act of stealing, a zero sum game in which one must lose for another to gain, prayer, true prayer, binds us together in our common mortality. It acknowledges that, whatever religion we believe or disbelieve in, whatever politics we subscribe to or shun, we are all equal stakeholders in hazard. If prayer, my prayer, is at all a theft, it is an embezzlement from God of our human responsibility for each other, a solidarity unmediated by any power, higher or lower, earthly or heavenly. And today perhaps nowhere is that prayer better summed up than in the lines: Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
    And for me.
  • It’s missing the point to get into debates about whether this is the “Deccan Mujahideen” or the ISI or al-Qaeda or Lashkar-e-Taiba. That’s a reductive argument. It could be all or none of them. The ideology has been so successfully seeded around the world that nobody needs a memo from corporate HQ to act: There are so many of these subgroups and individuals that they intersect across the planet in a million different ways. It’s not the Cold War, with a small network of deep sleepers being directly controlled by Moscow. There are no membership cards, only an ideology. That’s what has radicalized hitherto moderate Muslim communities from Indonesia to the Central Asian stans to Yorkshire, and coopted what started out as more or less conventional nationalist struggles in the Caucasus and the Balkans into mere tentacles of the global jihad.
  • And just as the greatest danger of being hard to sell to is not that you overpay but that the best suppliers won't even sell to you, the greatest danger of applying too many checks to your programmers is not that you'll make them unproductive, but that good programmers won't even want to work for you.
    Steve Jobs's famous maxim "artists ship" works both ways. Artists aren't merely capable of shipping. They insist on it. So if you don't let people ship, you won't have any artists.
  • …there are a lot of them. You couldn’t get them into Manhattan, or London, but there is a soft target much closer to Pakistan where lots of American and British people hang out. Better yet, it’s the financial heart of India, Pakistan’s hated enemy, which gets the ISI on your side because nothing infuriates the Pakistani intelligence elite more than watching India get rich and popular while Pakistan sinks into miserable chaos…
    So what you see here is something economists would understand as well or better than traditional military analysts. I hate to sound cold-blooded, putting it this way, but what happened is that Pakistan’s islamists had a surplus of raw labor, and thought of a way to get it to a place where it maximized its global value in terms of pure blood and destruction.
  • But even as the commandos say that they only did their duty to nation, people are already wondering if Mumbai will teach the nation the lessons we should have long ago learnt at Kargil. Will we, finally, be renewed by the blood and guts that were spilled at Mumbai ?
  • Perhaps I am merely picking anecdotal evidence which is apposite for my emotive, impulsive response – that operations of such scale and complexity are not forms of retaliation, that we, the free people of the world, have not done anything to deserve, nor, more importantly, instigate such abhorrent and reprehensible acts, that therefore these acts are entirely opportunistic and that it is therefore impediment upon the Indian security services to shut out all opportunity.
    I do not apologise if it merely is an emotive response, if one can find the crevice in the supposedly hermetic seal, if in fact one can prove otherwise, that these militants' actions can somewhat be explained by our own instigative ways – because I believe that at times like these emotion is something that must be preserved.
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Posted by on November 30, 2008 in Links


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