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Another Boris surprise 

To my mind, perhaps the least likely politician to be interested in the beta of Google Scholar is Conservative MP Boris Johnson. But look:

  As you know an MP’s day-to-day working involves a great deal of research to keep up to date with latest policy ideas and Bills running through Parliament.
  Now Google have come up with a cracking first-rate search engine looking up scholarly literature including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from all broad areas of research. This should greatly enhance our research capability. Released yesterday for beta testing, it looks promising and you may like to try it out as well.

I’ll have to declare a moratorium on mentions of Boris here, but he is a rare, interesting politician.

Clinton remains the master 

Bill Clinton’s speech at the opening of his presidential library:

  America has two great dominant strands of political thought — we’re represented up here on this stage — conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barrier that are no longer needed or should never have been erected in the first place.
  It seemed to me that in 1992 we needed to do both to prepare America for the 21st century: to be more conservative in things like erasing the deficit and paying down the debt and preventing crime and punishing criminals and protecting and supporting families, and enforcing things like child support laws and reforming the military to meet the new challenges of the 21st century.
  And we needed to be more progressive in creating good jobs, reducing poverty, increasing the quality of public education, opening the doors of college to all, increasing access to health care, investing more in science and technology, and building new alliances with our former adversaries, and working for peace across the world and peace in America across all the lines that divide us.
  Now, when I proposed to do both, we said that all of them were consistent with the great American values of opportunity, responsibility and community.

It just might work 

TM Lutas on the potential of the Pentagon’s planned second generation battlefield Internet for peacebuilding (via Thomas PM Barnett):

  You want to change people’s psychological connectivity with the world? Give them an instrument that gives them vital information like how to get a job, where to get food or medical aid, curfew rules so they won’t get shot, and alongside that education in how to become a free citizen and not a subject, ways to register their needs and wants and structural aids in how to organize to get them, connectivity to military intelligence, news from around the world, the possibilities are broad and far ranging.

I’ve long been a sceptic of the grander notions of the power of the Internet to transform the world’s most disadvantaged communities. Clean water, healthcare, education and shelter are far more important. But Lutas may well be right about the potential in post-conflict situations, not least because of the ability of the military to deliver many of these benefits (assuming they are in a Kosovo situation, not an Iraqi one).

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