Israel attacks humanitarian aid flotilla — at least ten killed

The Israel Defense Force attacked an unarmed humanitarian aid flotilla in international waters earlier today, killing ten barricade running protesters.

When IDF soldiers attacked,  rappelling onto the largest ship of the flotilla, they were reportedly met by resistance in the form of protesters with metal bars or sticks.

The IDF opened fire on the protesters with machine guns, killing at least ten.

International condemnation has been swift and near-universal, with virtually only the United States among modern western nations  hesitant to condemn the attack and killings.

This writer just returned from, where he strongly urged an end to that hesitancy. This vicious attack against those trying to deliver humanitarian aid to suffering civilians in the Gaza should not be allowed to stand without the strongest international condemnation — and international legal action against the Israeli government.


The Unknowable…




I‘ve long had the sense that the people who are the most certain in thinking that they know the Unknowable are frequently the people who are most likely to be wrong about the things that are knowable.

Claiming coinage of important new consumer tech term here, boss!

PC World seemed to be struggling, trying to figure out what to call new a new pad/slate device from dell here.

So, in their comment section, I offered what I hope will become the term of choice for such very small slates/overgrown phones: a padlet.

Checking Google, I see that I’m out in front on this one.

Just wanted to go on record…

Doing nothing in the face of evil…

From Reuters:

A Chinese man who hacked to death seven young children and two adults in the latest in a series of deadly assaults on schools lashed out after an argument over a kindergarten lease, neighbors and state media said.

Bystanders fled and hid from the man, armed only with a cleaver, as he exploded in apparent rage over a rent dispute with the kindergarten:

Wu Huanming, the owner of the two-storey building with a walled, concrete courtyard, wanted the kindergarten to vacate the property when the lease ran out in April, Xinhua news agency said. Wu Hongying wanted to keep the school running until the summer.

In rural China, villagers often have the same surname, but may not be closely related.

Wu Huanming ran back into his home to grab a cleaver and onlookers were too afraid to stop him, said one villager.

“I saw him holding a cleaver up in his right hand. I ran out, there was shouting everywhere,” Li Yufen, a resident of rural Nanzheng county, told Reuters.

“Then a few women came out, but we were not enough, so I went back into the house. The killer walked straight past me. He glanced at me but walked on and I closed the door and stayed inside.”

Wu Huanming hacked five boys and two girls to death with the cleaver, and also killed Wu Hongying and her 80-year-old mother. He returned home and committed suicide, Xinhua news agency said.

It’s tempting to draw facile and presumably superficial conclusions from events like these — I just erased a couple hundred words of the beginning of one — but I find myself with the nagging notion that even beyond the all too typical human fear to be the first to act in such circumstances — something we’ve seen the perplexing, seemingly perverse evidence and tragic results of here in the west — the Chinese state apparatus’ carefully maintained image of social control and ultimate omnipotence has further hobbled the impulse of individual bystanders in such cases to break the ’social surface tension’ to act out to protect themselves and others.

And it may also be overly facile to point to the incidents aboard Flight 93 on 11 September 2001 — the heroism of those who, even knowing they themselves were doomed, banded together to attack the hijackers and bring down the plane, ending their own lives but saving countless others on the ground — as a turning point, a moment of sea change.

Yet as I look back on the US’s own history of terrible public attacks, mass-shootings and attempted massacres, I can’t help but see the effects of new attitudes and a greater willingness to initiate action, even in the face of very real and menacing danger. 20 years ago such an event often went the gunman’s way — people cowered, unwilling, afraid or simply unable to act for reasons they couldn’t express — today, on the other hand, while we still, sadly, have far too many such incidents, many of them are stopped early rather than late, when bystanders overcome what some researchers have described as a form of social intertia to act against the attackers. The impulse to act is presumably individual — but quite often, as we’ve continued to see, others immediately follow suit and, while good samaritans are sometimes hurt or killed, greater tragedies are often averted.

We all must balance pure self-interest with various social or altruistic impulses in many instances of our daily lives.

But there *is* an enlightened self-interest in many of these seemingly most dire circumstances in the impulse to do the right thing.

A rend in the equity money continuum…

It was a sleepy afternoon here in Cali until I glanced at the Google News headlines and saw what appeared to be signs of sudden freefall in key equity markets — and some pretty amazing futures activity, not surprisingly.

The post-morta are flying back and forth, worries about the Greek bail-out, spiraling international debt, the tendency for computerized “algorithmic” trading nodes to act like a covey of quail with a rock thrown in their midst… but one item that stood out starkly was what should have been a wee typo from a trader who was trying to put in an order for 19 odd million bucks worth of futures but slipped three extra zeros in, putting in an order for 19 billion worth of what were, in essence, bets against the future of the target company.

Other traders — and their cybernetic robo-trading sidekicks — apparently figured that the presumably newly jobless trader must have known something they didn’t know and the rest is Chicken Little and the “wisdom of the crowd” crushing each other in a rush to sell, sell, sell that would make a South American soccer riot look tame.