Festivus going mainstream.
"When he can't get along with the real world, Wallace goes back to the only thing he has left: his computer. Each morning, he wakes before dawn and watches conversations stream by on his screen. Thousands of people flock to his Web site every day from all over the world to talk to his creation, a robot called Alice. It is the best artificial-intelligence program on the planet, a program so eerily human that some mistake it for a real person. Richard Wallace has created an artificial life form that gets along with people better than he does." A fascinating article (NYT), how a beautiful and original mind survives in our corporate society with the help of "a daily cocktail of psychoactive drugs, including Topamax, an anti-epileptic that acts as a mood stabilizer, and Prozac. Marijuana, too -- most afternoons, he'll roll about four or five joints the size of his index finger."
An Algerian defendant tells a court of his transformation from an irreligious drug dealer on the streets of Germany to an Afghanistan-trained militant, and the psychic journey of some young Muslim slackers in England to become fighters for Al-Qaeda (NYT).
(NYT) It is not just the poverty, the illiteracy and the absence of any commonly accepted social contract that define our sense of wretchedness; it is, rather, the increasing awareness among us that we have failed as a civil society by not confronting the historical, social and political demons within us. . .
Naipul thinks the causes of Sept. 11 are religious, not American foreign policy. (NYT) "There is a passage in one of the Conrad short stories of the East Indies where the savage finds himself with his hands bare in the world, and he lets out a howl of anger. I think that, in its essence, what is happening.The world is getting more and more out of reach of simple people who have only religion. And the more they depend on religion, which of course solves nothing, the more the world gets out of reach."
Bush's Mideast Charade (NYT link)