Friday, 28 May 2004

If in doubt, tunnel through port 53

Now, this is an interesting (if somewhat scary) hack:

nstx allows you to pass IP packets via DNS queries. This allows you to use standard network protocols when otherwise only DNS would be available.

Color me impressed.

Source is key

Here’s a statement to ponder (no fair reading the source first):

The Madrid railway bombings were perceived by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to have advanced their cause. Al Qaeda may perceive that a large-scale attack in the United States this summer or fall would lead to similar consequences.

That, to me, reads pretty much like a statement of fact: al-Qaeda may believe (correctly or incorrectly) that a large-scale attack on the United States will advance their cause. I think they’d be incredibly wrong on that point, but, nonetheless, I think it’s a fair statement for a politician to make.

To Kevin Drum, however, it’s evidence of John Ashcroft’s status as a “revolting, loathsome, toad.”

No, the evidence of that is the way he’s pursued the War on (Some) Drugs and War on Porn; aggressively advocated the use of, and applied, the PATRIOT Act for purposes other than counterterrorism; hung out with the Council of Conservative Citizens, the “white collar Klan”; and so forth. But similar things were said, by well-respected figures, on all sides of the political spectrum in the aftermath of the Madrid bombings—although, arguably, it was the incompetence of the Popular Party response to the bombings, rather than the bombings themselves, that advanced the cause of al-Qaeda. People even pondered an “October surprise” in the United States or a similar scenario in Britain (where an election is due by June 7, 2006).

Now, whether reasonable people would consider a Democratic (or Libertarian or Green or Reform or whatever) win a victory for al-Qaeda will largely depend on the specific vision of combatting al-Qaeda the winner proclaims. One suspects that the ultimate Libertarian Party nominee will advance a vision that even Robert Fisk would find weak-kneed; electing a Chamberlain type (think of Britain’s Mo Mowlam—but not too hard), who thinks negotiated peace with al-Qaeda is plausible, would be a victory for al-Qaeda. One also suspects Kerry’s vision will be more forceful than that, and I can’t legitimately expect him to advance a complete vision of what he’ll do in January 2005 today.

The bottom line, I think, is if Kerry can produce a compelling, internationalist approach to combatting al-Qaeda and international terror more broadly, a Kerry win, even in the aftermath of a 9/11-scale attack, would not be seen as an “al-Qaeda win.” That is most plausible in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where coalition action has not met with widespread resistance from the “international community” (e.g. France), but not quite so likely when discussing Iraq or North Korea, unless Kerry can successfully play the Clintonian game of talking internationalist but acting (when he did) unilateralist, which won him considerable plaudits from the mainstream left in Europe but produced approximately zero progress on resolving problems with either of those hot-spots.

Update: Pejmanesque has related thoughts, as does Tacitus.

The privileges and responsibilities thereof

Laura of Apartment 11D notes the downside of receiving an honorary doctorate:

What Jon Stewart didn’t know was that after receiving his honorary PhD, the Comedy Channel cut his salary to $45,000 a year, transferred him out of New York City to a small rural town in Pennsylvania, and forced him to grade 150 essays on “how a bill becomes a law.”

The wag might contribute:

  • $45,000 a year? Where can I get that deal? (Though I did interview for the “small rural town in Pennsylvania” bit, and I certainly cannot complain about the salary I am getting in the fall, particularly for a non-tenure-track position.)
  • His own bloody fault for assigning 150 students the same essay question. Mix it up a little!

Also of note: if you look at the photo, it looks like Dr. Stewart is wearing an olive green crew-neck T-shirt underneath his hood and gown. Classy.