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November 1998

Restarting PSACOT

About a million years ago (well, OK, technically, 1970-71) I was a columnist for the Objectivist newspaper at MIT, Ergo. It was born and died before the Internet era, so it doesn't exist anywhere on the net. Fortunately I was recruited away to join the real newspaper on campus, The Tech. But not before I spent the best seven months of my life bloviating on any topic that crossed my path, every Wednesday morning in front of many of my 4,000 fellow undergraduates. Anyway, I have been thinking about the wonders of the Internet as a self-publishing medium, I decided, "If it's good enough for Michael Tchong and Robert Seidman, it's good enough for me."

You may or may not find wit and wisdom contained herein. But you will, for sure, find strong opinions. Weekly, if I can manage it. I have interesting friends with interesting websites (and a few I contribute to myself), so I'll be pointing to a website of the week and telling you why I like it.

Website of the Week

Truth in Media

You ever wonder what it would be like to be a fervent supporter of the "wrong" side of a major public controversy? (more on that later). My old friend Bob Djurdjevic is Serbian. He was tossed out of the former Yugoslavia because he was a student leader during uprisings in May 1968. Students were inspired by the French student revolt in Paris. The difference was, Bob lost his state. He went first to Canada, then to Arizona, working for IBM, then becoming an IBM-watcher, who now runs a successful technology analysis firm. That's his day job.

His passion is "correcting the record" on Serbia. You probably thing (if you're reasonably well-informed) you know what's going on in Serbia. You might be surprised.

I'll share this excerpt of a recent letter Bob wrote to Newsweek:

Being a Serb must not be such a great hardship for Mr. Zoran Cirjakovic as he would have us believe ("it's embarrassing being a Serb these days," he writes). After all, not every traitor (a term I borrow from his column) is given a full page in NEWSWEEK to pour out his scorn over his native country. And a few of its neighbors, too (Greece, for example). Nor sent on jaunts around the world where he pretends to be somebody else, like a Bulgarian or a Croat. Presumably, he is being paid for all this by NEWSWEEK?

Now, can you imagine an American, say Col. David Hackworth ("Hack"), a former NEWSWEEK defense editor, and the most decorated living U.S. soldier who was forced into virtual exile in Australia because he publicly criticized the Pentagon brass in the early 1970s over their conduct of the Vietnam war, saying such things about America as this "Serb" is spouting off about his own native country? I can't.
Which is why I, an American of Serbian descent and a life-long enemy of communism, am embarrassed that there are "Serbs" such as this NEWSWEEK columnist….

If you want passion and a very different perspective on an issue of world importance, check out Truth in Media.

General News


This week, my general news subject is the drive to impeach the president. I have a very strong opinion on the subject, and since no one from Gallup has ever called, I'll share them with you.

Clinton lied. All presidents lie. Clinton lied under oath (That is not perjury, by the way, ask any attorney. Perjury is illegal only if it is material).

What he did was stupid and wrong. It was not a felony. Even it was a felony, as constitutional scholars say, not all felonies are impeachable and not all impeachable offenses are felonies.

Assume every word of the Starr report is gospel (I doubt it). Clinton's behavior doesn't rise to the level of an impeachable offense. If you can't tell the difference between this and Watergate, or for that matter, between this and Iran-Contra--a truly impeachable offense--I pity you.

(By the way, I have especially enjoyed the several columnists, including one in a recent New Yorker, who have recently suggested that Starr's tactics smack of McCarthyism--the criminalization of non-criminal acts. McCarthy did it by calling people before Congress and asking them about their Communist affiliations. Having Communist affiliations wasn't illegal. Not telling anyone about them was not illegal. Refusing to testify about them before Congress was illegal. Thus, a legal act criminalized. Clinton did nothing illegal until Star, in collusion with his friends the attorneys in the Paula Jones case, conspired to entrap Clinton).

The impeachment process is, to borrow Clarence Thomas' phrase, a high-tech lynching. It is the GOP trying to invalidate the results of two elections they didn't like.

If you want a parliamentary system in this country, fine. Come out and ask for one. Don't try to create one via this backdoor methodology.

I am ashamed to admit I live in the district of a rogue Democrat, Ellen Tauscher, who voted for the impeachment. I'll still vote for her; she may come to her senses and on her worst days she's better than the mutton-head the R's are running against her. She had to vote for impeachment; I live in a suburban district that normally votes Republican. Even as a yellow-dog democrat, I'll have to hold my nose this year on Election Day.

Computer Industry News

Microsoft goes on trial this week in Washington. The evidence that it has an operating system monopoly is overwhelming. So is the evidence that it used illegal tactics (tying) to perpetuate that monopoly and to extend it into other product areas. By Christmas, we'll find out what Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson thinks.


Too bad about Wired Magazine and its web sites being sold. The reward for pioneers is arrows in the back, again.

That Wacky Web Biz

Apropos of the constant change which seems to exemplify every web site I know of, an official of a web site undergoing a painful reorganization said to me last week that, in the end, he thinks it will be good for the site and good for the people who work there. "Maybe we should just shake up the bottle once or twice a year. Get everyone thinking in new ways." Fortunately, he decided the pain and uncertainty weren't worth the gain of such a scheme.

Some people call it a rut; I call it a groove.