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Journal: Philippines History and the Iraq War

Journal by JGski

History doesn't repeat itself but it does rhyme

- Mark Twain

Here's a fascinating and cogent link about Iraq and the depressingly similiar USian escapade a century ago known as the Spanish-American War. The recent news about the Filipino withdrawal from Iraq and the USian condemnation makes it clear few know any of this history and the strong echoes of a previous war that Filipinos know every well.

Does this political cartoon from the Spanish-American War era remind anyone of the current Bush, Neocon and PNAC political agendas and behaviors? Note how the Philippines as a key part of the 19th century vision of the American Empire. As Twain said, "history rhymes".

What's clear to folks who know history is that Neocons are cut from the same cloth of jingoism that led the US into the Spanish-American War. Fox News, et al. practice the same yellow journalism of W.R. Heast. The word "jingoism" that so accurately describes today's chick-hawks was the name given for the imperialist war-hawks during the Spanish American War. Even their rhetoric is the same: it was in reference to the Spanish-American War and specifically about Filipinos that the phrase was uttered about "The White Man's Burder" to take care of "our little brown brothers" who are too stupid and inferior to possible govern themselves or properly make themselves into a democracy without US help. Filipinos were commonly referred to as "niggers" by US troops and folks at home in the US during the Spanish-American War; the same rabid pro-war crowd today calls Iraqis and Arabs in general "sand niggers".

The actual fighting against the Spanish lasted only 3 months and was a "cake walk" to use recent parlance about Iraq. However that was not the end of it: the American battle against Filipinos fighting to set up there own democratic government lasted 3 more years and started looking just like Iraq (politically) or Vietnam (militarily) or both (fiscally). In fact, what we in the USA call the "Spanish-American War" more accurately known as the "Filipino-American War" in the Philippines. American history names the latter period the "Philippine Insurrection" which has the unreality of Japan's Yasukuni Shrine which has exhibits labeling the "Invasion of Manchuria" as the "Manchurian Incident" or the "Rape of Nanking" as the "Battle of Nanking". Just one of those convenient, revisionist omissions in American school books and the US Goverment.

Between 250,000 and 600,000 Filipinos were killed by US forces during the Filipino-American War. Most killed were not combantants but uninvolved men, women and children summarily executed or tortured by the US Army and Marines. The Philippines remained a subservient USian coloney for nearly 50 more years until independence July 4, 1946. Because of the hackneyed, stage-managed nature of the US-granted independence (July 4??? how cloying is that?), Philippine president Diosdado Macapagal (yes, the father of current Philippine president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo) changed the date of independence celebrations in 1964 to June 12, the date that General Emilio Aguinaldo, once USian ally and later USian adversary in the war, proclaimed Philippine independence in 1898 after the Spanish were quickly routed from the islands.

It should come as no surprise that the Philippines is rightfully both leary of US intentions for the world and leary of their own possible ensnarement in the mess that will follow.

Random Spanish-American/Filipino-American War trivia

The word "boondocks" was imported from the Philippines during the war from the Tagalog word "bundok" which means mountains or hills. Filipino pro-democracy fighters would escape US Troops after raids by fleeing to the hills and mountains. Because of high casulties that resulted on the US side from search-and-destroy missions (later repeated in Vietnam), the term "heading for the boondocks/bundok" took on a derisive meaning in American English of being out in the middle of nowhere.

User Journal

Journal: The Economic Blunder of the NY Times Management, et al.

Journal by JGski
Searching for The New York Times

In general, information's value is temporal - you need it at the right place, at the right time. This is fundamental idea of corporate Knowledge Management projects. Information arriving before the right time isn't recognizable as useful - the context for judging value doesn't exist yet (9-11-2001 and 12-7-41 are classic examples that beg forbearance and forgiveness at a certain level). Information arriving after the right time is already available from many other sources - everybody already knows the same thing so you have no competitive advantage. Information value then reaches a long-term near-but-non-zero "archival" value asymptote. The value follows a curve something like a Poisson distribution over time. Information arrives in our perception and is either recognized for having its utility or not.

The strength of the Internet as an information-economic medium is that though most of the information as individual iota are on average worthless - most published information is in the tail of the value curve. Due to sheer volume and automation (world-wide networking, search engines, general purpose browsers, etc.), a collection or aggregate of such iota, can be of high particular value to any one person's individual needs. In short, the information rendezvous cost is extremely low.

The key is: no or little top-down design is required, thus creation of value is emergent and unplannable. Users are able to forgo the cost of "central planning" and "ten-year plans" for information "preparation".

As argued in the article, the NYT has gotten their pricing all wrong and the information market, aka Internet users, have voted with their clicks. Search engine ranking are based on the actions of those users, so basically the NYT's search engine rankings undesireable low which recursively makes users use them less, etc.. Short of buying a higher ranking there's not much they can do - it's their own fault.

From the article, it seems that the only reason they maintain their current restrictions is their Lexis-Nexis cash-cow contract ($20M-$30M per year). This basically distorts management's view of the underlying market value signals. They may well have deluded themselves into believing their pricing model can be set arbitrarily because of this. Based on the bottom line, perhaps they've made the right decision. It's probably the worst possible long-term choice though.

A media company's value is directly linked to the value of the information they relay. Thus they can "fall off" the peak of the information value curve. You can routinely see this with other print media today. My own personal "favorite" for this is the SF Chronicle which can't seem to help being "late and out-of-date" before it leaves thre presses.

Hey, not even media companies care about their long-term survival anymore - it's only next quarter that matter, right.

Real computer scientists don't comment their code. The identifiers are so long they can't afford the disk space.

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