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What's With Amazon and Harvard Business School Books?

A series I enjoy from Harvard Business School Press is “The Results Driven Manager” series and I'm seeing some promise in the Harvard Business Review “Management Dilemmas” series. However, when one tries to find these series on Amazon.com misspelled titles makes it hard to find items.

For example, some titles are “Results-Driven” others are “Results Driven”. Some have the series title in parentheses. Others do not. Some have “The“ others do not. Then there's miserable examples, such as “Business Etiqeutte: The Results Drive Manager” (not just a dropped letter from the series title, but a misspelling of “etiquette”).

Switch to HBR's series and you find three titles with dilemma spelled incorrectly: “When Your Strategy Stalls (Harvard Business Review Management Dilemas)”, “When People Are The Problem (Harvard Business Review Management Dilemas)”, and “When Marketing Becomes a Minefield (Harvard Business Review Management Dilemas)”. Sure, it's spelled “dilema” in Spanish, but I'm looking for the English ones, thank you.

I have these books. The titles are spelled correctly on them. I just don't get it. I have used Amazon's feedback mechanism and it doesn't seem like things are getting fixed. I'm not used to this level of error in Amazon entries, so it bemuses me that a bunch of Harvard stuff is so broken.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “General” Thursday, Aug 31 2006 04:52 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Terrorists As Pirates

According to Douglas R. Burgess Jr. at Legal Affairs, it can be justified that today's terrorists should be treated like yesteryear's pirates:

Dusty and anachronistic, perhaps, but viable all the same. More than 2,000 years ago, Marcus Tullius Cicero defined pirates in Roman law as hostis humani generis, “enemies of the human race.” From that day until now, pirates have held a unique status in the law as international criminals subject to universal jurisdiction—meaning that they may be captured wherever they are found, by any person who finds them. The ongoing war against pirates is the only known example of state vs. nonstate conflict until the advent of the war on terror, and its history is long and notable.

An especially relevant parallel is that between state-sponsored piracy (letters of marque and reprisal) and state-sponsored terrorism (such as Hezbollah). This reminds me of the first American president to invade another country—and the nation's first Democrat—Thomas Jefferson.

Jefferson, facing the lack of British Navy support for American trade in the Mediterranean and looking with some distaste at the tribute paid to the Barbary States (and ransom paid for captured American crewmen), first sought to create an international coalition to fight the pirates (stymied by France), then finally fought an unpopular war in against Tripoli. In yet another interesting parallel, the war was ended by treaty just before forcing regime change in Tripoli, and another war had to be fought ten years later. (source)

There are still pirates today, but terrorism has replaced it as a source of hostis humani generis. Perhaps the piracy precedent should be applied to them:

All states were equally obligated to stamp out this menace, whether or not they had been a victim of piracy. This was codified explicitly in the 1856 Declaration of Paris, and it has been reiterated as a guiding principle of piracy law ever since. Ironically, it is the very effectiveness of this criminalization that has marginalized piracy and made it seem an arcane and almost romantic offense. Pirates no longer terrorize the seas because a concerted effort among the European states in the 19th century almost eradicated them. It is just such a concerted effort that all states must now undertake against terrorists, until the crime of terrorism becomes as remote and obsolete as piracy.


If the war on terror becomes akin to war against the pirates, however, the situation would change. First, the crime of terrorism would be defined and proscribed internationally, and terrorists would be properly understood as enemies of all states. This legal status carries significant advantages, chief among them the possibility of universal jurisdiction. Terrorists, as hostis humani generis, could be captured wherever they were found, by anyone who found them. Pirates are currently the only form of criminals subject to this special jurisdiction.
Second, this definition would deter states from harboring terrorists on the grounds that they are “freedom fighters” by providing an objective distinction in law between legitimate insurgency and outright terrorism. This same objective definition could, conversely, also deter states from cracking down on political dissidents as “terrorists,” as both Russia and China have done against their dissidents.
Third, and perhaps most important, nations that now balk at assisting the United States in the war on terror might have fewer reservations if terrorism were defined as an international crime that could be prosecuted before the International Criminal Court.

So, the question remains as to whether the current administration can be influenced to push down this path. We've had inconsistent results gathering coalitions, but defining terrorists as the enemies of all states and requiring by treaty that every member state to enforce their capture and prosecution may have an effect.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Terrorism” Wednesday, Aug 30 2006 07:42 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Internet and Television Are No Rivals

A Google executive claims that the Internet is no rival for TV. The focus on the article is that amateur videography is good enough to pull viewers away from the expensive production values of traditional television shows.

That's pretty misleading! When TV shows are showing up the day after they are broadcast on iTunes for $2 without commercial interruption and downloadable any time of day it's obvious that as the catalog increases people are going to stop watching TV. These viewers will start downloading what they want from the “infinite choice” back catalog of all the shows that can be digitized. The question is only how long it will take and how much it will cost. If the studios are too greedy, or if the shows aren't as good as they thought, they won't make enough money to justify making it.

However, there will always need to be content creation, but there's nothing that says that traditional television has to be the means to fund that creation. It also doesn't mean traditional television is the best way to produce content. Heck, how much would Frito-Lay pay for a massive popular viral video prominently featuring Doritos?

There have been efforts to revive Firefly as an Internet or direct-to-DVD enterprise. Some of Disney's sequels are so miserable they never go to theaters but straight to video. The baby step from there to video over Internet is trivial. iTunes has figured out how to monetize it, why does content creation have to be any different?

I think that were are a few short years away from the death of satellite and cable as TV show channels and the rise of on-demand video from the Internet. I also think the intermediate step of on-demand video through the cable box will be short-lived. People always move to where there is more choice. Using the bandwidth to download whatever they want will always trump any limited catalog and delivery mechanism.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Technology” Tuesday, Aug 29 2006 10:44 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks


Firing the Canon with an axe:

Clearly a classic!

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “General” Tuesday, Aug 29 2006 07:18 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Bumped to MT 3.32

Rolled up to Movable Type 3.32, which fixes a bunch of bugs that I don't recall running into myself.

Been away from blogging lately, although there's been plenty I should have talked about. However, other people have had the time to go into more depth. For example, HotAir has covered the bogus ambulances in Lebanon story, people are tracking down the secret hold on a bill requiring Congress to have a publicly searchable online database of spending bills, the two kidnapped journalists in Palestine were released after a gunpoint conversion to Islam, a reversed position on planets leading to the demotion of Pluto and the failed apotheosis of Ceres, Charon, and Xena, and a giant storm in the blogosphere over fauxtography.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Blogging” Tuesday, Aug 29 2006 06:56 AM  |  Permalink  |  1 comment  |  No trackbacks

The Best Argument Against Intelligent Design

What intelligent designer runs a sewer through the middle of a recreational area?

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “General” Tuesday, Aug 22 2006 03:18 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

What If We Had City-States?

How would things change if you took the top 50 cities in the US, made them into “city-states” (but with only one senator, not two), politically removed them from the states themselves, and reapportioned congress and representation amongst those states?

Sure, California would gain senators and possibly lose congressmen, but what else would happen? The boundaries of “metropolitan areas” would certainly change and start to take on meaning. City-states would try to absorb the populous suburban areas, and perhaps the red state/blue state issues would become crystal clear: population centers tend to attract and retain people who vote Democrat; rural areas and suburbs tend to attract and retain people who vote Republican.

The electoral college would also change, since the electors there are determined by the number of congressmen and senators from a state. Would it more accurately follow the popular vote? Would cities gain influence?

Would states whose politics are subverted by the cities change radically? Imagine New York without New York City, or Illinois without Chicago, or Michigan without Detroit. The biggest impact would be on these state governments. They would both lose a large tax base and a large expense sinkhole.They would, however, be in charge of most of the resources needed to support cities. Most source of water and energy are not inside the cities themselves. Massive political tugs-of-war would change, for example statewide preemption statutes intended to keep liberal city politics from affecting everyone else. Imagine states maintaining those nice long stretches of interstate highway without having to deal with the congestion centers of the cities. Imagine cities with a federal highway apportionment directly related to the problems they are having.

In my own case, imagine Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR being the same state and getting the bridge problem over the Columbia River fixed!

Would people move? Would zoning restrictions change? Would there be a mad scramble to make sure your area was in the Top 50 come census time? The response to the War on Terror tends to differ greatly based on population centers as well, perhaps this would help.

I think this is a fascinating idea.

Update: What if we made the cut off point the population of the least populous state? Right now that's Wyoming at 493,782. That would drop 17 cities of my top 50 list. However, once we start doing this as a cut-off we start running in circles.

In a similar vein, I think just picking the largest city in each state would have negative consequences too.

My goal is to apply a special case to the big metropolitan areas, and many of those are on state borders.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Politics” Sunday, Aug 20 2006 11:25 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

We Have Twelve Planets In Our Solar System

The international conference in Prague is likely to vote for this definition of a planet:

A planet, they decreed, is any star-orbiting object so large that its own gravity pulls in its rough edges, producing a near-perfect sphere.

So, Pluto remains a planet, but we get three new inductees to the club:

  • Ceres, currently the largest asteroid, is one.
  • 2003 UB313, dubbed “Xena” by its discoverer, would be another.
  • Charon, considered a moon, is inducted because its mass is so similar to Pluto's that they orbit the sun as a double planet, rather than as a planet dominating a much smaller moon.

Start coming up with a mnemonic:

  • Mercury
  • Venus
  • Earth
  • Mars
  • Ceres
  • Jupiter
  • Saturn
  • Uranus
  • Neptune
  • Pluto
  • Charon
  • Xena

Update: Most Voluptuous Earth Mothers Can't Just Stay Under Ninety Pounds, Can't Xena?

8/29 Update: I should have updated this entry earlier. They voted the other way. Pluto is now a dwarf planet, a second-class citizen of the solar system, along with the others that should have been destined for greatness.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “General” Tuesday, Aug 15 2006 09:28 PM  |  Permalink  |  1 comment  |  No trackbacks

Dark Matter Announcement

A dark matter discovery destined to be announced August 21:

Astronomers who used NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory will host a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EDT Monday, Aug. 21, to announce how dark and normal matter have been forced apart in an extraordinarily energetic collision.

Gee, have I become the astronomy blog this week? No, but I'm always curious about such things. I am a Science Major after all.

Update: I suppose I should explain that the reason they call it “dark” matter is because we do not have tools to detect it, yet we theorize its existence in order to explain the observed behavior of planetary and galactic systems. It's not dark just because we can't see it. It's dark because we don't know how to see it. This discovery may change that.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “General” Tuesday, Aug 15 2006 03:09 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Pluto in the Dog House

Another battle on the edges of science. How do you define a planet?

At a 12-day conference beginning Monday, scientists will conduct a galactic census of sorts. Among the possibilities at the meeting of the International Astronomical Union in the Czech Republic capital of Prague: Subtract Pluto or christen one more planet, and possibly dozens more.

Will 2003 UB313 become Planet Xena, or will Pluto get kicked out of the planet club?

Lots of scientific inquiry gets into a shouting match over definitions. Astronomers, however, are likely to be quietly debating this in Prague.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “General” Monday, Aug 14 2006 11:22 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Close to the Edit

Way back when I was a huge Art of Noise fan, and the latest Ann Althouse vlog lead me to this:

That takes me back a few decades…

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “General” Saturday, Aug 12 2006 10:41 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Weapons of Choice

The real “weapon of choice” of terrorists is TATP, not so-called Assault Weapons, Saturday Night Specials, or the infamous .50 BMG.

TATP is a powerful and compact explosive, recently in the news with the terror plot to blow up several planes with liquid explosive in energy drink cans, but also under the feet of shoe bomber Reichard Reid and the Madrid Train Bombers.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Guns, Terrorism” Thursday, Aug 10 2006 03:17 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks


I'm working all day and I can see this outside my office:

Dodge Charger Daytona Top Banana From Office by Josh Poulson

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Pictures” Thursday, Aug 10 2006 08:25 AM  |  Permalink  |  1 comment  |  No trackbacks

That Didn't Take Long

It hasn't been here a day yet, and it's already been stolen!

Dodge Charger Daytona Top Banana Containing Misty, Alana, and Ryan by Josh Poulson

There she goes!

Dodge Charger Daytona Top Banana Leaving My House by Josh Poulson

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Pictures” Wednesday, Aug 9 2006 01:39 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Top Banana

The earlier picture was from my cell phone. This morning I got a chance to use a better camera.

Those who know me recall I have another Dodge. Here they are together:

Dodge Charger Daytona Top Banana and Dodge Durango by Josh Poulson

I like the Daytona accents on the “Top Banana” Charger Daytona R/T better than the standard R/T.

Dodge Charger Daytona Top Banana Rear by Josh Poulson

The interior accents include my serial number (Daytonas are limited editions) and other yellow accents everywhere.

Dodge Charger Daytona Top Banana Interior by Josh Poulson

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Pictures” Wednesday, Aug 9 2006 08:26 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks


Dodge Charger Daytona by Josh Poulson

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Pictures” Tuesday, Aug 8 2006 11:42 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

New GPLv3 Draft

Looks like I will have fun reading the new drafts of GPLv3. Of note is a illustration of the changes from the previous draft.

Most folks are probably not into the intricacies of software licenses, but suffice to say that interesting controversies can come about because of their wording. Core to the issue is how TiVo hardware, which is shipped with a Linux kernel, requires an encrypted key embedded in its kernel, preventing users from modifying the kernel and running their own version.

One argument goes that once you have bought the hardware and software you should be able to fiddle with it (accepting that you have voided your warranty). Another goes that TiVo negotiated agreements with service providers so they could offer their hardware and modification endangers those agreements. It's been an interesting debate so far.

There are plenty of other debates (for example, issues with playing DVDs and other encrypted source material) and I've only barely scratched the surface.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Linux” Saturday, Aug 5 2006 09:32 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Democracy vs. Despotism

An ancient Encyclopædia Britannica film on determining if your community is sinking into despotism:

Sure, it's 60 years old, but it has a message that still resonates.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Politics” Saturday, Aug 5 2006 08:59 AM  |  Permalink  |  1 comment  |  No trackbacks

Feline Friday

Snowball attacks!


…and the bottlecap is defeated. Time to march in triumph!


Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Pictures” Friday, Aug 4 2006 12:51 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  1 trackback

Earthquake Centered a Couple Miles From Us

Last night we had a 3.8-4.0 earthquake, enough to wake us up and wonder what the noise was. The quake was centered between Ridgefield, La Center, Battle Ground, and Cherry Grove. We happen to live between Ridgefield and La Center ourselves.

Update: Located at N45.80 W122.61 and 14.1km underground.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “General” Thursday, Aug 3 2006 07:33 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Legal Limits on Journalism

Ann Althouse reads a ruling from the Second Circuit and finds this gem:

Learning of imminent law enforcement… and informing targets of them is not an activity essential, or even common, to journalism.

You see, normally journalists may hide their phone records and sources from the courts in support of whistle-blowing and freedom of the press. Those are laudable goals. However, when a reporter learns of a raid and calls the target of the raid to warn them just to “get their reaction,” they are out of line and deserve lower standards for privacy of their information.

I suspect that once the phone records are available possible prosecution for obstruction of justice is possible. Did the NYT reporter intend to impair the conduct of the raid? Perhaps no, but a reasonable person probably would expect calling them up and asking them about it to cause a reaction.

If a tipped off target ambushed the raid and killed the cop, I'd expect the reporter to at least go for manslaughter. (Added: That didn't happen in this case, but it could if the practice continues.)

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Politics” Wednesday, Aug 2 2006 07:44 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks


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