by Kieran Healy on July 4, 2006

Senator Ted Stevens is getting a lot of stick for “his description”: of how the Internet works:

bq. And again, the internet is not something you just dump something on. It’s not a truck. It’s a series of tubes. And if you don’t understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and its going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.

Now, Net Neutrality is great and everything, and Stevens is on the wrong side of that issue (and many others), but why all the snickering? Sure, he rambles a bit, and in the long version he accidentally says “an internet was sent by my staff” when he clearly means “an email.” It seems, though, that it’s his saying “tubes” and “a series of tubes” that’s provoking most of the derision. But network nerds the world over regularly refer to the availability of bandwidth in terms of fat or narrow “pipes”:, which is essentially the same imagery. Odd.

Open Germany v Italy Thread

by Kieran Healy on July 4, 2006

Just drawing in toward half time. Good game so far. Germany look good. (The Referee has done very well, too.) I hope Germany edge it in regulation.

_Update_: 72nd minute. Very funny incident w/the Italian No. 16, who fell down writhing with the agonies unto death. The Ref ran back to him, clearly said something like “Get up you fucker or I’ll book you,” and the guy jumped up and ran off double-quick.

_Update_: Well, that was a dramatic last two minutes. Fair dues to the Italians.

Abluent Thoughts

by John Holbo on July 4, 2006

The kids got a toy food set and … well, here it is:


Click for a larger image. ‘Cleanlily’. Use that in a sentence. ‘The nurse employed the sterilized instruments cleanlily, but her smile said ‘naughtily’.’

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Thanks to Steven Poole

by Chris Bertram on July 4, 2006

Many thanks to Steven Poole for a very stimulating series of guest posts on topics as diverse as football, religion, Chomsky and torture. Be sure to head over to Steven’s own blog “”: , from where you can follow the links to buy his excellent book Unspeak in which he dissects the evasive and shameful rhetoric of our many professional apologists for power.

Torture and rules

by Steven Poole on July 4, 2006

Writing yesterday in the Independent, Alan Dershowitz makes the familiar case that modern terrorism poses such an unprecedented threat to western society that the law needs to be rewritten. He argues, for example, that “we need rules even for such unpleasant practices” as “waterboarding” – or, to speak plainly, water torture. There are currently plenty of rules on interrogation in general, laid out in places like the UN Convention Against Torture, Geneva, and the extant 1992 edition of the US Army’s own Field Manual FM 34-52 on Intelligence Interrogation; it’s just that the US government doesn’t feel like following them. Dershowitz supposes that this might be moot because people suspected of contemporary terrorism “do not fit into the old, anachronistic categories” such as PoWs, and so it is unclear what it is permissible to do to them. In fact, CAT, UDHR and so on leave no possible category of human being unprotected from torture or other inhumane or degrading treatment.

Alternatively, he appears to suppose that it might be moot on the grounds that “waterboarding” is too newfangled to have been explicitly prohibited. I Am Not A Lawyer, but this seems no better an argument.
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