Scripting News for 9/26/07

Nokia N800 arrives, finally 

First impression is no impression at all.

So far they make Apple look very very good.

To paraphrase a Cadillac ad, when you turn your mobile device on, does it return the favor?

Apple, yes. Nokia, the jury is still out.

A couple of hours later, the battery is charged, but it’s taking forever just to get it connected to the Internet. I have good wifi in the house, my laptops and iPhone use it all the time. The iPhone “just worked.” Oy.

Oh the humanity. To update the N800 you need Windows, with v2 of the .NET Framework. Yeah, I have Parallels on my MacBook, but I recognize an invitation to lose huge amounts of time when I see one. For a $350 impulsively purchased toy (a week ago) this is turning out to be a huge pain in the you know what.

Media you can’t trust 

I saw most of the speech given on Monday by Iranian President Ahmadinejad at Columbia University. I also watched a lot of the coverage that night and the following morning by MSNBC and CNN, and I gotta say, they behaved shamefully, as badly as Lee Bollinger, the president of Columbia University, who introduced Ahmadinejad.

Transcript of the Ahmadinejad speech.

Video of the entire talk and intro. 1 hr 21 min.

Ahmadinejad came off as a gentleman, he had every right to be offended. Had I been in his place, I would have found it hard to give a speech after the intro Bollinger gave. And then the cable networks completely misrepresented what happened. It was beyond spinning, it was outright propoganda. It wasn’t until Hardball that a reporter, Chris Matthews, talked about what really happened.

It’s basic decency to the guest and to the people watching, that they not tell us what to think. It’s a very American thing to let people make up their own minds. That Ahmadinejad was able to claim this as an Iranian value, when it was so clearly not an American one that day, was shameful to me as an American.

What if Columbia had maintained neutrality. Asked direct questions, accepted his answers and moved on. We got the tiniest glimpse of how revealing that might have been when he said that Iran didn’t have homosexuality. The audience laughed as if he was making a joke (not in derision as the TV anchors reported). At first it wasn’t at all clear if it was humor, his delivery was so straight, he seemed serious, but how could he seriously expect us to believe there were no gay people in Iran?? When it was clear he wasn’t joking, it was a chilling moment. There it is, that’s the face of despotism. Now we know, despite his protests, that we’re still better than he is, I haven’t heard the US government claim that there are no gays in America (but I have heard them say things approaching that level of dishonesty).

Had they just let Ahmadinejad speak for himself there would probably have been no need to hit us over the head with what they want us to think about him. But as it stands, that was the only clear thing he said at Columbia that wasn’t basically reasonable.

His pitch: I come from a place that’s far away from here. You sent your army to fight on our border. We don’t like the Israelis because they mistreat the Palestinians who had nothing to do with the Holocaust (a far cry from saying the Holocaust never happened). It’s pretty clear, although he didn’t say it, that given a choice, he would like to see the Palestinian people rule the space now occupied by Israel (this is probably what they mean when he says he wants to “wipe” Israel off the map). So, that’s not our position, but it’s not really different from ours. The reality is that there are two peoples who claim that territory. So Iran is on the other side. That’s not exactly front page news.

An aside, very few Americans know the role we played in overthrowing Iran’s attempt at democracy in the 1950’s. I recommend Stephen Kinzer’s All the Shah’s Men. For an overview, Chris Lydon did a podcast interview with KInzer in 2003.

We lose so much when we don’t have the courage to listen to our foes. Some of my countrymen see it as a sign of weakness to listen, but they’re wrong — if we’re sure we’re right, what exactly do we have to lose by listening? Only if we’re concerned that we might be wrong, should we fear listening, and then only if we want to stay wrong.

Look, I know I’m not going to convince any of the people who say that everyone who uses their mind is weak, but to people who like to decide for themselves, and want free speech for everyone, don’t be fooled by what you hear on TV. They act as if they are owned by people who desperately want a war with Iran, and are willing to sacrifice American freedom to get there. Bollinger is clearly one of those people. And so do Time-Warner, Microsoft and GE (the owners of CNN and MSNBC). If not, then please do something about it, shake up the media so that we get to really discuss this, openly and fairly, before we start yet another ruinous war.

President Betray Us 

Living in Berkeley we’re always just a few degrees away from the MoveOn people. I hear they’re really freaked about all the attention the General Betray Us ad got.

I think it’s good and they should follow it with a new ad, maybe not in the Times. “Okay, maybe we shouldn’t have called him General Betray Us.” Not quite an apology, not quite a retraction, just food for thought.

The next ad would have a big picture of the President, with a big headline: “President Betray Us.” More fodder for the talking heads.

And then a FAQ, listing just a few of the ways the president has betrayed us. Not exactly calling for an impeachment, but starting the process of moving on from Bush, about a year early.

There’s nothing wrong with humor, and political humor is almost always vicious. If Bush whines too much, follow all this with an ad calling him a coward. “Mr. President, if you can’t stand the heat, you could always resign early.”

And then, after having cleared the field of Republicans (they’d all be running for cover, hoping their face wouldn’t be on the next ad), you could start putting pictures of Democrats in the ads. Senator Betray Us, with a big picture of Harry Reid.

I think it’s time for The Rest of Us to start flexing our political muscle.

I’m a gun-totin liberal, Republics betta watch out! :-)

Dave

PS: We should start another campaign that every time the President calls the other party “The Democrat” party, we should give $10 to them. That’d get him to shut up quickly.

19 responses to this post.

  1. If you were a gang leader with a gang of 5 sensible sheep and 5 wily wolves, with 2 of the latter tending to agree with you, 2 tending to disagree, and 1 vacillating, then any manipulative preaching must be directed towards the sheep – not the vacillator.

    What we fail to learn from history is that we fail to learn from history.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Herbert on September 26, 2007 at 10:01 am

    So whats Paul’s photo doing here?

    Reply

  3. Re: “President Betray Us.”

    Brilliant.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Nick on September 26, 2007 at 10:11 am

    Here is part 1 of a 4 part video on YouTube about the US and UK involvement in the Iran in the 50s’.

    Reply

  5. Personally I think that Ahmadinejad, like many middle east leaders (Israel included) is detached from reality by irrational passions. On the other hand, I am astounded at how he has been treated both at Columbia, and on “60 Minutes”. He is the leader of a sovereign country, and as such, should not be disregarded outright without hearing and addressing what he had to say. He was treated like a clown by an increasingly arrogant USA. I thought he showed remarkable restraint in his reactions. Way more respect and maturity than we offered him.

    Despite how I personally feel about his oppressive society, I can’t help but feel only sympathy when I hear, see, and read coverage of his visit.

    Reply

  6. Posted by David Berger on September 26, 2007 at 11:42 am

    The moral equivalency and gullibility on display here is breathtaking. For whatever the flaws of U.S. foreign policy, you have never seen a president pledge to wipe another sovereign nation off the face of the earth. You have never heard a president consign an entire religion to hell. You have never witnessed a modern US president uphold the idea of stoning women to death for adultery, or publicly hanging men from cranes for homosexuality.

    Of course he was going to sound plausibly reasonable in front of the US and foreign press. But listen to what he says to his own audience, in Tehran. Inviting him was a moral disgrace, but huzzah, at least, to Bollinger for calling out the truth.

    Dave, the irony is if a journalist spoke like that to Bush, you’d be flush with excitement – not complaining about his “shameful treatment.”

    Reply

  7. David, that’s really weak stuff.

    First of all, to your last paragraph, that’s nonsense. I’m not responsible for what you think I might do if something that has never happened were to happen.

    The weakness of your position is that you have to tell me what to think, you’re not willing to let me think for myself. Thankfully, that’s not how it works in the US, read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, or don’t you believe in our system?

    Reply

  8. good call; you’re starting to find out what i already know; it’s all propaganda trying to sell you.

    I feel americans are so out of touch with reality.

    as for the gay thing, he knows, and it was like a joke, and what he is doing is just stirring the pot to get typical reactions.

    homosexuality, race, religion, nuclear weapons, etc.

    Iran doesn’t have a drug problem either, but most of the worlds opium is shipped through Iran :)

    But Americans talk shit too:
    1. America doesn’t spy on it’s own people
    2. America doesn’t needlessly invade countries
    3. America doesn’t lock up people without a fair trial
    4. America doesn’t use torture.

    “do onto others as you would have them do onto you.”

    we’re so christian until we run out of gas.

    Reply

  9. Posted by H. Wallace on September 26, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    “Media you can’t trust?” Are you for real? Iran’s leader hardly came off as respectful while Lee Bollinger was intellectually courageous for challenging some of Ahmadenijad’s more dubious political statements. I salute him for that. The role of a university is to challenge and probe, not accept dictation. He did his job well.

    Reply

  10. Posted by David Berger on September 26, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    I’m not telling you what to think. I’m simply saying that there is such a thing a principled stand. You don’t invite a murderer – or someone who has threatened to murder your neighbor – over to your house to hear what he has to say, in the guise of an “open mind.” Ahmanadejad’s words are his own; he has stated certain ideas that are utterly reprehensible to the ideals I think most of us share. So I stand by the idea that showing him “respect” is postmodern moral relativism at its finest.

    Freedom of speech does not immune anybody from the repercussions of his words. And I think that the repercussion of Ahmanadejad’s words – it’s not as if he doesn’t already have an enormous megaphone, what with the Iranian state press behind him – should’ve been the denial of a public platform. By the way, that state-controlled press edited out Bollinger’s intro, and reported that Ahmanedijad received a “standing ovation.”

    And I’m sorry if I assume a reaction of yours to a hypothetical scenario. But you have consistently derided the media for not aggressively challenging Bush on “the truth” (as you see it,) for showing too much deference, so I think you’ll agree it was a logical assumption to make.

    Reply

  11. Posted by a concerned citizen on September 26, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    According to Juan Cole, the phrase “wipe off the map” was a mistranslation by (rabidly anti-Iran) MEMRI. Not sure on the details but apparently theres a possible translation that is more along the lines of ending the occupation.

    Lets remember here that Ahmedinejad is NOT the one who runs Iranian foreign policy – that is his his superior, the Ayatollah Khamanei. And yes the Ayatollah tried to broker a comprehensive peace deal with the Bushies in 2003 but were turned down cold without discussion by the white house.

    Anyway, our political culture is a worldwide joke now. They all think we’re nuts. But I’m sure they are all just jealous of our freedom and they can’t see how we’re trying to democratize them all by invading energy-rich countries and stealing their oil.

    On to Tehran!

    Reply

  12. Hi Dave,

    Great piece.

    Bill

    Reply

  13. Dave, following you on twitter as “kilotech”. Can you give more details on what error messages you are getting while trying to connect the tablet? Last step you did + unintended result?
    I think the last thing you said was that you could connect to the network, but none of the pages would load on the tablet, was that correct?
    Can you “ping” the router from the tablet?
    (I don’t have a tablet, kinda just shots in the dark from a few google searches)

    Reply

  14. Posted by Kevin Newman on September 26, 2007 at 10:48 pm

    Don’t forget that you can also update the Nokia 800 using Linux ( http://maemo.org/community/wiki/HOWTO_FlashLatestNokiaImageWithLinux ). I upgraded my Nokia 770 using Ubuntu Linux, and it was pretty straightforward. I imagine you might be able to boot one of your macs using a Ubuntu live CD and do it from there without actually installing the OS.

    My 770 was $130, and it has flaws that are frustrating, but it is fantastic for the price. Be sure to check out maemo.org if you ever get the thing working.

    Reply

  15. Regarding the N800, like Kevin Newman pointed out, there are utilities/howtos that allow you to update the N800 under Mac OS or Linux.

    On the Mac, this should do it according to maemoapps.com:

    There is no official Mac Software Update tool, but Andrew Flegg has created a very handy tool called 770Flasher.app which you can download from his site. Don’t be put off by the name, it works great on the N800 and I’ve successfully updated my unit more than once. Once you’ve downloaded and installed the flasher app on your computer, you can proceed to download the binary file from Nokia here. MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT EXPAND THIS FILE! SAVE IT DIRECTLY AS A .bin.

    While things are downloading, you should take this time to remove the memory card from your Tablet, if you have one in the bottom slot (seems to cause fewer problems) and power down your unit. You should have a good solid charge in the battery to avoid any critical issues as it is recommended that you be disconnected from your charger during the process.

    If everything is on your Mac, you can now open the 770Flasher app, accept the warning (it’s fine) and begin the update process. Simply point the flasher to your .bin from Nokia and once it states it’s waiting, power-up. You should see a USB icon in the top right corner and then the Flasher will kick in and do the update. Mine took less than 2 minutes to process.

    When you power back up, you will likely see a prompt to restore your settings. I chose this option and my preferences and some system settings (including my network connections) all came right back online. As I’ve been installing applications I’ve seen my apps prefs restore as well.

    I hope this is helpful for you … Good Luck!

    The above only shows that it’s really a geek device. Not that that matters to me, I still want one. :)

    Reply

  16. The N800 is a piece of P to set up any wifi I find.
    No different than any wifi wnabled device I have owned. And I’ve had a lot.

    What’s the problem?

    Talk to me. ;) Dont give up.

    Reply

  17. I enjoy my Nokia 770. It’s quite nifty for $130. The hackers just need to work on enabling more features in the kernel.

    Reply

  18. I had an N770. It got a white screen of death (WSoD) within a couple of days. I got a refund and am now waiting for the N800 to come down in price…

    Reply

  19. Posted by Nilanjan on September 27, 2007 at 9:08 am

    Despite all of the talk about how great American values are that we listened to him and allowed him to speak (at Columbia), its a shame that Bollinger had to start off introducing someone with insults. And I believe that had he not taken this stance, it would have been Bolinger who would have been “stoned to death” here in America for inviting the Iranian Shah to speak. Thats was more of a skin saving act on Bolingers part. Shameful.

    And while I do no like Iran’s actions, it is equally heineious on America and the media’s part to blindly think of him as the “Axis of Evil” and an evil man, beacuse Bush said so.

    I mean how are Americans different from those “unthinking, undemocratic, poor, evil” people of the mid-east where they follow dictators with whatever they venom they spew, whereas at home we do like wise – only pretending and paying lip-service to our democratic values and also listen to Bush and big-media without thinking for ourselves.

    Its a shame that the only talking points we find out of this whole “debate” is to pat ourselves on the back and say how great America is that we allow dictators to speak in our forums, all the while insulting the president in the guise of a debate.

    Reply

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