Sunday, March 23, 2003

I've blogged before about the idea of a global brain, a hive mind more intelligent than any of the individuals who collectively compose it. If you look at different species of animals of varying intelligence, one thing you will almost universally find. As the capacity for intelligence increases, the size of the sensory cortex of the brain increases as well. If the metaphorical sensory cortex of our global brain is to increase, it needs among other things good first hand sources of information. That is one of the reasons I often read and link to articles in English language newspapers written far away from the United States, but those sources of information are not truly first hand to the blogosphere. Most of our best information about the world still comes directly and indirectly from major media outlets.

As a small step away from that, I've devoted a section of my sidebar to blogs of people who live and work in places and situations most of us only hear about in the media.

Where is Raed? belongs in this section of my sidebar, but is currently in the top section - blogs I read most frequently. I might eliminate that section so I get around more, and move everything where it belongs. He lives in Iraq. Whether you agree or disagree with his political opinions, this is a great place to get a genuine glimpse of what one person's life is like. Salam Pax's blog is perfect for this section, except for two things. So many people read and link to him already that I'm not really increasing the connectivity of the blogosphere by linking to him here. And his blog access is either down or too dangerous, and may well be until the war is over. Diane of Letter from Gotham sometimes publishes word of him sent through other channels.

Notes of an Iranian girl is written by an Iranian schoolgirl. Sometimes what she writes could be from a schoolgirl in any other country. Sometimes she blogs on stuff in the same media many people in America, Britain, Canada, and Australia often read. On the other hand, sometimes she will link to something in the English language Iranian press that we would never find otherwise. Best of all, even when her personal comments seem a bit naive, they often give a sudden insight into how we are seen from over there, especially when she is not addressing us.

Not a Fish is written by an Isreali mother in Tel Aviv. She has no more first hand information on events in Iraq than the rest of us - except about how Isrealis are reacting to them. It's still a very vivid experience reading about how she has to make her children try on gas masks. I very much hope she never has any first hand news to report - until something cheerful happens. One remarkable quote about reporters and photo ops: Those reporters in Kuwait with their gas masks on look so silly. What good do they think the mask will do of they’re standing outside in thin shirts with no additional protection?

Uzbekistan Diary is written by a reporter - but her blog is largely personal. Uzbekistan is one of those Muslim nations we haven't heard much from in the media so far, but may one day soon.

Empty Wishes is written by an American living in France. I include it here because many Americans seem to have strong feelings about this nation, but little first hand knowledge of it. Yes she opposes the invasion of Iraq, and is concerned about anti-French feelings, but the most interesting parts are non political and very human. Quote:As you may know, in France, dogs have pretty much free reign of any and all establishments. In fact, it seems that all french people have some sort of dog excrement radar... I, on the other hand, have learned to remember to sort of look down while walking to avoid with a foot in a puddle of fresh, brown goo.

Bjorn Staerk is basically a pro American pro Bush pro Invasion conservative from Norway. I mean politically conservative by the American definition, since the word seems to mean something different there. As often happens in the blogosphere, much of his blogging is from the same sources everyone else uses. Sometimes though you get a different perspective, or hear about something mostly discussed in Norway. Mullah Krekar revealed his true self this week. Not Krekar the Grandfatherly Idealist, the sympathetic character he's been playing (with success) on Norwegain TV for six months now, but Krekar the Religious Extremist: just another Muslim guerilla leader with a taste for suicide, and a deep hatred for the US. In an interview on Dutch television, he foolishly threatened the US with suicide attacks from Ansar al-Islam, if American forces try to enter northern Iraq.

Sgt. Stryker's Daily Briefing has many political essays. It also has sharp insights into the lives of the troops on the front lines, all the way down to anecdotes and snippets of conversations. It is for the latter that I list him here, although his knowledge of military strategy and tactics is of great interest also.

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