Saturday, December 30, 2006

A brief word on Saddam Hussein's execution ...

Not cool.

In the last few days much has been written about Saddam's trial and his impending execution by Iraqi forces. News agencies today report that he was hanged shortly after sunrise this morning. However, amidst all this discussion has been the notable absence of any real criticism of the process by which he has been brought to justice.

My concern here is that his trial - the public spectacle that it was - fell well short of internationally accepted standards for cases involving crimes against humanity. To their credit, some European governments and international human rights agencies have raised similar concerns. This is not to say that I am in any way an apologist for Saddam, or the brutality that he and his henchmen unleashed on the Iraqi and Kurdish people over successive generations. Rather, my concerns are for a country which purports to be attempting to lay a democratic foundation for itself. With all that is at stake in Iraq with the constant threat of insurgents (Bathists or otherwise), Iraqi leaders were far too hasty to dispose of Saddam so quickly. By most accounts he was only released to Iraqi forces less than 48 hours before he was executed.

I suspect that in death Saddam will be revered as a martyr, and consequently, it will make it more difficult for Iraq to move toward a peaceful self governance.
His execution earlier today seems a shame to me, as life long imprisonment and his standing trial for atrocities committed against Kurds (a trial which can still go forward because the official Complaint names a number of Co-defendants, though as a practical matter he was the principal target) would have been a great boon to Iraq's emerging democracy. Instead, I think Iraqis have done themselves a disservice and further damaged what is already a fragile state by eroding the rule of law and a basic tenet which undergirds all democracies however nascent, namely, the preservation of human life.

Finally, a brief grammatical note that has raised my ire in recent days in discussing and reading about this topic. Pictures are "hung" people are "hanged." If this rule is unknown to you, kindly commit it to memory and save yourself some embarrassment.

Friday, December 29, 2006

I'm no branding expert, but ...

I find it a little odd that Microsoft doesn't possess registration rights in the domain name In conducting my own consumer research into Apple's iPod vs. MS recently launched Zune, I discovered this anomaly:



Domain Name: ZUNE.COM
Administrative Contact , Technical Contact :
Nogales, Antonio

Phone: +34914350461
Fax: +34915766735

Record expires on 21-Jun-2009
Record created on 22-Jun-1998
Database last updated on 02-Nov-2006

For a product that is being touted as "the iPod killer," one would think that the marketing and legal people in Redmond would have coordinated their efforts a little better prior to the product's launch. This is particularly true considering that and, among other domain names, are safely in the hands of Microsoft.

Notwithstanding the fact that the domain name was first registered in 1998 undoubtedly well before the Zune was ever even conceived of in R&D, , at least in my opinion, may be ripe for a transfer to Microsoft.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Griswold's go to India?

So my parents departed for India this evening. It'll will be my father's first return to the homeland in 47 years and of course my mother's first (and presumably only) trip. I still can't believe they're going, as it was a rather unusual turn events which produced this trip. In brief, my father was given the flights, and therefore, I think, felt that this was an opportunity he had to seize. My parents will be joined by my aunt and uncle from the U.K. (my father's brother and his wife), and the two couples are to embark on an organized guided tour of northern India. Details here.

Admittedly, I'm a little envious because my father and I for many years discussed the prospect of travelling there together. In my family India remains a kind of mythical land, which in many ways is described in a manner that invariably no longer exists today in an era of independence. The British left in 1947. While my father was merely a boy when India gained its independence, for a number of years thereafter the legacy of British occupation was nevertheless pervasive. While my dad is eager to return to the land of his birth, he's also concerned that his travels may be better sweet. That is, he worries the India he knew and grew up with will essentially be gone; replaced with either benign neglect or perhaps worse, unrecognizable modernization. Of course, my father's concerns are hardly novel. Rather, his is a sort of lamentation which I imagine is held by all who romanticize colonial rule.

In any event, I wish him luck in revisiting his past and can only imagine the sites they'll all see. Here's hoping I receive an interesting trinket or two from their travels. However, these would certainly suck as would this.