Monthly Archives: June 2009

a big day in Iraq

After six years, it looks like we’re finally seeing an end (or the beginning of an end) to the occupation of Iraq. US forces aren’t exactly leaving the country, but they’re pulling out of the cities, lowering their profile considerably, and turning over most authority to the Iraqi government.

The response from Iraqis is jubilant; today has been branded National Sovereignty Day. The Guardian has a few choice quotes:

Baghdad’s river-front parklands, which have been reclaimed this year after being deserted during the height of the insurgency and sectarian war, were last night transformed into outdoor dance venues, where audiences of around 3,000 – almost all of them men – danced to the strains of a recently returned Iraqi singer, Salah Hassan, exiled in Dubai for the past five years.

One reveller at an outdoor concert in Baghdad’s zoo, Tamader al-Waeli, 25, said: “It has been a long time since the last big celebration. We have now got rid of the occupiers and will not see them again on Iraqi streets. Baghdad needs the peace of its past life back again, we want to regain what we had, but at the same time the security forces now have extra duties and responsibilities and I hope they carry them out.

Another man at the concert, Ahmed Ebrahim, 35, said: “No words can describe how I feel. The occupation stayed in Iraqi hearts for six years and this is a big occasion that deserves to be a permanent national day in future. The occupiers put me in Bucca [an American-run prison in Iraq]. But now I am free and so is Iraq.”

Good luck, Iraq.

You’ve already heard everything I have to say about this war, but I’ll just reiterate that this was my primary reason to vote for Obama*, so my big payoff is today. The rest of his presidency is frosting.

* and if you think this withdrawal would have happened anyway, read the alternative.

Oh, The Bitter-Tweet Irony

From “Jackson dies, almost takes internet with him” at CNN last week:

Volcanic trend on Google

How many people does it take to break the Internet? On June 25, we found out it’s just one — if that one is Michael Jackson. The biggest showbiz story of the year saw the troubled star take a good slice of the Internet with him, as the ripples caused by the news of his death swept around the globe . . .

. . . Twitter crashed as users saw multiple “fail whales” — the illustrations the site uses as error messages — user FoieGrasie posting, “Irony: The protesters in Iran using Twitter as com are unable to get online because of all the posts of ‘Michael Jackson RIP.’ Well done.”

on Twitter and national security

How did Twitter become crucial infrastructure? Seriously, wasn’t it just a month or two ago that Ashton Kutcher and Oprah threatened to drain all possible credibility out of the service? Wasn’t there much wailing and gnashing of teeth? So how did we get from there to the state department asking Twitter to delay a maintenance outage in order to support protests in Iran? I’m not making this up:

The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday it had contacted the social networking service Twitter to urge it to delay a planned upgrade that would have cut daytime service to Iranians who are disputing their election.

Of course, Clay Shirky understands what’s going on. He gets it so thoroughly that he described exactly what we’re seeing now, in fascinating detail, a month ago. Appropriately, TED gives a video record of his prescient talk:

Shirky presents the idea we’re all getting a crash course on this week: it’s nigh impossible to censor media if everyone produces it for instant distribution. It’s the flipside of the social phenomenon The Onion has poked fun at so well. Now that we’re all capable of reporting, everyone is always sharing everything, whether we like it or not.

Scrippet (you know, for script snippets)

This is a test of the Scrippet plugin for WordPress, which would help me render bits of scripts and screenplays and such. I’ll be tweaking this until it looks OK.


SMITH stands next to BILLY, who is seated at his desk. Billy hands him a fat folder.


I don’t even think you’ll need a costume, Mister Vintage.


Nope. It’s like going home for spring break.


Except you’re supposed to have fun on spring break. You are going to have fun, right?


(opening the folder)

You should know, Billy. Isn’t there a high statistical correlation between me staying on a college campus and the simultaneous occurrence of fun?


Are you accusing me of forcing co-eds on you?

You might recognize the awful dialogue from The Last Domino, my cursed time-travel screenplay from Script Frenzy a couple years back.