Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Random notes and items worth noting (maybe)

New job for Bush's “poodle”

Lest you shed a tear that Tony Blair has been booted from 10 Downing Street, the former British Prime Minister didn’t even need to worry about updating his resume. Hours after standing down as PM, he was appointed special representative for the peace-brokering quartet of the US, European Union, UN and Russia. His apparent qualilfications—being George Bush’s “poodle” since 2001.

Essayist Tom Fenton writes, “When it comes to dealing with the Arab-Israeli problem, the Bush administration is living in another world. It blithely ignores the realities of the Middle East and seems to make policy in a vacuum. It looks clueless.

Take the decision to back Tony Blair as the new envoy of the international “quartet” on the Middle East, with the mission to strengthen the Palestinian Authority. It makes sense for the United States, the United Nations, Europe and Russia to have a high profile representative, but the outgoing British prime minister has the wrong profile. His enthusiastic participation in the invasion of Iraq and unquestioning backing of President Bush’s failed Middle East policy have stripped him of credibility with the Arab public.”

You think? Just politics as usual on the global stage.

Hated by the world

It’s amazing how quickly some people piss away the goodwill of others. Take George Bush. After the events of September 11, 2001, most of the world was united in sympathy for the U.S., although a new book, by Andrew Kohut and Bruce Stokes show that resentment towards America was simmering just below the surface.

The Pew Global Attitudes Project is the largest ever series of multinational surveys focusing on worldwide issues. Begun in June 2001 with a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts, the intent was to conduct an international survey on globalization and democratization. However, the events of September 11th changed the focus of the report. The shift became, how is America is perceived abroad and global attitudes toward the U.S.-led war on terrorism.

The project revealed that just one year later, in December, 2002, the image of the U.S. was slipping, although goodwill remained strong towards our country. By June of 2003, with the U.S. firmly entrenched in a global “war on terrah,” the U.S. image was in the toilet. So much for “winning hearts and minds," eh?”

Who needs this life when you can have Second Life?

I’ve been hearing a lot about Second Life, the 3-D virtual world developed by Linden Research. The downloadable program allows users, referred to as “residents, to interact with each other through motional avatars, providing an advanced level of a social network service combined with general aspects of a metaverse. Residents can explore, meet other residents, socialize, participate in individual and group activities, create and trade items (virtual property) and services from one another.

While still in its infancy, Second Life has been showing up frequently in mainstream news stories in USA Today, BusinessWeek, as well as a feature last week on NPR.

I had my first guided tour last night, courtesy of good friend Jonathan Braden, designer and member of the RiverVision Press ancillary family. Sitting on his deck, nursing a couple of Gritty Summer Ales, fireflies flitting around us, it provided an interesting juxtaposition between the real world and the virtual frontier. More to come on that front.

Hotter than a _________ (you fill in the blank)

Even here in the northernmost reaches of New England, we have weather that visitors from southern climes would consider hot—usually, these doggish days occur in late July, or August—not the end of June. Makes one consider mixing a G & T, Wisdom Weasel-style.

Busier week than normal; hope to be back with an extended post over the weekend.

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