Photo: Flickr user lifeontheedge

Thursday, February 07, 2008

And a well-researched article about the muhammad thing comes from ... Fox News??? *triple take*

Wikipedia has entries on Muhammad in several dozen languages. A quick survey found images of the Prophet on the Dutch, German, French, Spanish and Russian versions, but not on the Arabic, Turkish, Chinese, Albanian, Urdu or Bahasa Indonesia versions.

The Croatian edition depicted Muhammad, but the version written in the nearly identical Bosnian dialect did not, reflecting Bosnia's Islamic identity.

Surprisingly, one version in a language spoken overwhelmingly by Muslims had several images of Muhammad, both veiled and unveiled — the Farsi edition, legible to Persian-speakers in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and in the Iranian and Afghan diasporas worldwide.

That's actually not so surprising -- modern shiite islam of the type practiced in Iran doesn't seem to prohibit images of muhammad; and in fact there's a picture of him hanging in one of the biggest museums in Tehran.

Of course, there's a huge gulf between Tehran elites and the poor countryside; it would be nice if an expert on Islam/geopolitics was here to shed some light. But this whole episode is a nice window into the fact that Iran's relative secularism (compared to U.S. allies in the area) should always be staring us in the face. (Or maybe not -- see comments.)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

NYTimes on the muslim protest thing. Wikipedia comes off really well -- "polite but firm".

Also: "The site considered but rejected a compromise that would allow visitors to choose whether to view the page with images." When was this?

Monday, February 04, 2008

About 80,000 people have petitioned Wikipedia to remove its images of Muhammad. These run the gamut from polite, respectful requests to (a very small minority) crazy threats of violence.

It's possible it could have been nipped in the bud if the top of the Muhammad article linked to a version without images (instead of to a page telling people to edit their custom server-side javascript file. sigh.).

Also, here's the on-wiki censorship request page.

If you're going out to vote tomorrow, please support Obama. Choose the future.

Quick list of reasons:

  • Obama's detailed technology platform is pretty much perfect.
  • He is much stronger than Clinton against any republican challenger.
  • His policies are phrased so that they don't terrify republicans but still provide the same benefits as Clinton's.
  • He is capable of convincing people of things, not just tacking effectively toward the polls.
  • He is capable of disarming powerful interests (in all senses of the word), not just warring with them.
  • He is endorsed by Lessig, XKCD, and danah boyd.

When I was [at the World Economic Forum] in Davos, I expected everyone to be pro-Hillary and anti-Barack because of the whole "experience" thing. I was shocked to find that this was not the case at all.

Most foreign diplomats and companies thought that Barack would be much better at negotiating with foreign powers than Hillary. They all knew that the candidates would have huge advisory teams that would help them understand what was going on. Even though Hillary knew more people already, they felt as though Barack would be more effective. (And most were extremely worried about how Bill would overshadow anything with Hillary... another sad reality.)

Before Bush II, the U.S. had only once -- in its entire history -- seen the son of a former president elected himself: John Quincy Adams, in 1824, and there were 3 intervening presidents between him and his father.

Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton would be without any precedent at all, and you can rest assured that the dynastic pattern is not a coincidence. Looking objectively at other countries, a dynastic government seems -- even when democratically elected -- to indicate weak institutions, unsophisticated voters, and a cloistered and ossifying inner circle.