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Message from Kabul

JonKatz posted more than 12 years ago | from the information-wants-to-be-free-(and-is) dept.

Technology 776

An open information society is inevitable. I was a little surprised last week to receive a forwarded e-mail from Junis, who lives in a small town 35 miles southwest of Kabul. This weekend, a movie theater and video store opened up again in Kabul (renting Independence Day), Afghan TV cranked up, and so did the Net. Americans understand all too well that our techno-driven culture produces wonders and dangers, but it's one of the most popular social and political forces in the world. Passion for pop culture relentlessly undermined repressive governments like Poland, East Germany and the former Soviet Union. The world, it turns out, really is porous now. Technology and information will squeeze through every closed nook and crevice. The Taliban never made a dent in the attachment this Afghan programmer and his friends had for it.

When his message came, the Taliban had just fled, Northern Alliance soldiers had taken over his village, and everybody rushed to barbers to cut off their beards and to nearby holes and hiding spots to dig up their Walkmen, VCRs, TVs, CD players, and -- in Junis's case -- his ancient Commodore, one of four in the village. Cafes had popped up all over, with impromptu dances and parties everywhere.

Junis's e-mail -- routed to Kabul, then Islamabad, then London -- was a reminder that there are civil liberties, and then there are civil liberties. Computers had been banned under penalty of death by the Taliban (except for the Taliban themselves), along with music and TV. Junis, a computer geek obsessed with Linux, had first e-mailed me years ago while I was writing for Hotwired. He was genial and obsessed with American culture. He loved martial arts movies, anything to do with Star Wars, and rap. He was perhaps the Taliban's prime kind of target. (Now he's furiously trying to download movies he's missed and is mesmerized by open source and Slashdot.)

"I could still see the dust of the pick-up trucks carrying the Taliban out of my village," he wrote, "and some friends and I went and dug up the boards of a chicken coop where I had hid the computer. They might have beaten or killed us if they'd found it. It was forbidden, although they used computers all of the time." He claims American commandos are skulking around dressed as Northern Alliance tribesmen.

Junis describes life under the Taliban as brutal, terrifying and profoundly boring. What the people in his town -- especially the kids -- missed most was music, posters of Indian and American movie stars (he'd kept his own decaying poster of Madonna), and American TV. Junis missed the fast-changing Web and sees, he says, that he has fallen "forever behind," and that programming is more complex than ever. But at least "Baywatch," which everyone in his town acutely missed, is back, and there's already a lot of talk about "Survivor." Junis predicts "Temptation Island" will be the number one show in Afghanistan within a month.

If the world needed another demonstration of America's most powerful weapon -- not bombs or special forces but pop culture -- it got it again this week. People all over the planet fuss about whether this healthy and democratic or corrupting and dehumanizing, but people's love for American techno-toys, TV shows, music and movies is breathaking. Watching TV pictures of tribesman on horseback, it's easy to forget that technology reached deep into this culture as well. Junis says phone service around Kabul remains spotty, but reporters, U.N. workers and foreign soldiers are wiring up. He's already made his way to some sex sites, and wishes he had a printer.

There are many computers in Afghanistan, Junis said, many in clusters in cities like Kabul and Kandahar (news reports have frequently mentioned that Bin-Laden's organization used both e-mail and encrypted files to communicate). Computer geeks are already hooking up with one another all over the country; Junis isn't the only Afghan e-mailing these days. He says other coders and gamers hid their PC's as well. Meanwhile, he's especially eager to get his hands on the Apple iPod, and has been drooling over the Apple website site since he got back online. And some things, of course, never change. "I thought they were going to get Microsoft," he wrote. "I guess not."

A decade ago, when East Berlin teenagers stormed the Wall and crossed over into West Berlin, the first thing many of them did was rush to music stores to buy tapes and CD's they'd been secretly, illegally listening to for years.

The Taliban worked to create the antithesis of the American world, one without technology, computing, the Net, music, or any vestige of popular culture (not to mention women's rights, elections, a free press or any religion except fundamentalist Islam. Junis said people in his town risked their lives repeatedly, not to fight the Taliban, but to try and listen to CD's and watch videos smuggled in from Pakistan, watched in the dark under blankets and in cellars. It seems the outcome was inevitable.

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Please read this : help /., stop karma whores (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2590404)

In an effort to restore slashdot [slashdot.org] to it's previous level of quality, I've begun an effort to point out, and mod down, all obvious karma whores and trolls. The job is large, but not impossible.

This poster obviously does not care about the topic, rather he (or she, perhaps), cares only about inflating karma, and to do so, this person has posted absolute crap.

What qualifies as crap on slashdot? Well, quite honestly, about half of the comments ranked above 2.

One way to easily spot a karma whore attempt, is to look for an obvious, but pathetic, post of linux superiority. A linux karma whore will often attempt to point out that linux is the best for job x, even though there may be, and probably are, better alternatives, such as Microsoft for desktops and FreeBSD for servers. These points will be ignored by linux karma whores, as pointing this out will not ensure the positive moderation they desire.

Another method for spotting karma whores is to look for comments posting, verbatim, something stated in the article, or in the editor's summary. While this often includes italicizing the quote, this is frequently a ploy to show that the person read the article, even though it's more likely the person only skimmed to find a comment worth repeating. Additional signs of the repetitive karma whore are: commentary on a quote that says nothing, "mirroring" an article that is not slashdotted, or pointing to google's cache. Also be careful before moderating up posts which link to obviously related sites: karma whores occasionally search popular search engines [google.com] to find related stories in an effort to gain more karma.

The third type of karma whore, one that very often succeeds on slashdot, is the sympathy whore. A sympathy whore often tries to gain karma by appealing to the moderator's sense of decency, either with a story about how they were unfairly fired, perhaps how they were unfairly persecuted, or occasionally how main stream capitalism is trampling on a sense of global decency. The latter tends to link common, benine events to horrific events of the past, making unfair generalizations and calling for action on behalf of a charity rather than carrying on with one's life. Do not let your heart be fooled into thinking that they are genuine: the sympathy whores want nothing more than karma.

Why would someone try to whore karma? Well, the simple answer is that everyone wants to feel smart, or popular. Many posters on slashdot describe themselves as nerds or geeks, societal outcasts. Posting to slashdot is their only true sense of community, and they view karma as a measure of popularity or status. Others karma whore to try to increase revenue and traffic to their own websites. Frequent marks of traffic whores are links in the posts that match the user's homepage, or links to hardware reviews on small sites, where links to purchase the hardware occupy the bottom half of the review. Again, do not let these subtle traffic whores fool you.

With these basic guidelines in mind, go out and moderate. Realize that many of the higher moderated comments are whores, and mod them back down. In an effort to increase the quality of comments, try to mod down no more than 3 posts in a given session ; use your remaining points to moderate some users UP. This ensures that not only are karma whores eliminated but that valid posts are acknowledged.

Re:Please read this : help /., stop karma whores (0, Offtopic)

silicon_synapse (145470) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590479)

What have you been smoking? Whore

Re:Please read this : help /., stop karma whores (-1, Offtopic)

anal-johnson (528597) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590483)

what "former level of quality"? are you on drugs?

blah (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2590405)

blah blah

Technology... (3, Informative)

nll8802 (536577) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590408)

Technology is part of evolution. You cannot stop, confine, or reverse technology. This is something the taliban has no chance of doing.

Hmm, sounds odd... (0, Troll)

Quasar1999 (520073) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590418)

sounds odd that for such oppressed people, this guy could get at a computer so fast... Sounds like this oppression view thing is a little one sided... Was the taliban really that oppressive? or are the western media outlets just trying to make them look just that little bit more evil?

Re:Hmm, sounds odd... (2)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590442)

RTFP (Read The F***ing Post). He dug it up from a hiding spot underneath the chicken coop. Stop trolling, it's not amusing.

Re:Hmm, sounds odd... (0, Troll)

Quasar1999 (520073) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590552)

Perhaps if you actually read my post, you would realise that I am suggesting that the taliban were not as oppressive as is suggested in this post. If they were as oppressive, then even after they left, people would just all of a sudden start listening to music, going to theaters, and surfing the web... if they were as oppressive as the western media says, they would have systematically destroyed radios, theaters, computers, and any other infrastructure they felt was 'western'... they didn't... hell this guy got away with hiding a computer under his chickedn coop... This article is very one sided, and lacks facts to back it up.

I did read the article, and thats why I find it odd that people could simply hide technology under the noses of the taliban so easily if they were sooo oppressive...

Next time, instead of telling me to RTFP, why don't you read the post you are replying to first, and take the time to attempt to comprehend what you read... you may not agree with what I have to say, but don't accuse me of not reading the article...

Sooo. (2)

wiredog (43288) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590583)

You don't believe that the French Resistance was able to hide weapons and radios from the Nazis, either? Or perhaps that the Nazi's weren't that oppressive after all?

Good thing I don't give a damn about karma.

Re:Sooo. (-1)

Brownie the AssClown (462285) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590688)

They were not being oppressive, that was just their idea of fun.

Re:Hmm, sounds odd... (3, Insightful)

The Smith (305645) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590494)

They certainly were that repressive. But think about how Americans would react if a fundamentalist government seized power, banning computers, music and TV. Surely there would be a mass hiding of equipment against the day when the government fell.

I must say though, it makes me feel a little sick that the first thing the Afghans will see when they brush the soil from the TVs will be Jerry Springer, Temptation Island and MTV...

Re:Hmm, sounds odd... (2)

kin_korn_karn (466864) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590576)

But think about how Americans would react if a fundamentalist government seized power, banning computers, music and TV. Surely there would be a mass hiding of equipment against the day when the government fell.


Nope, there would be a mass march of gun owners on Washington, loaded and ready.

This will never happen, though, because only the Amish and Luddite freaks don't see the value of technology. Even the most rigid fundies still want to be able to proselytize via the net.

Re:Hmm, sounds odd... (2, Insightful)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590639)

Nope, there would be a mass march of gun owners on Washington, loaded and ready.

It seems you've lost a lot of freedom recently - I haven't seen anyone march. Besides do you seriously believe a group of disorganized people with handguns an rifles is actually a match for the US army - one of the most modern and best trained armies in the world? Didn't work terribly well for the Taliban just now, did it?

Re:Hmm, sounds odd... (1)

Ledge (24267) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590707)

But it has worked many times over throughout history. My fear leading in to the current war was that this would be the case. I was worried that the US was liberating people who didn't want to be liberated.

Re:Hmm, sounds odd... (1, Flamebait)

rnb (471088) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590536)

Make no mistake, the Taliban is a really vile group of people who are as bad as they are made out to be. But also don't make the mistake of thinking that the U.S. government would have cared about them, their treatment of their citizens or Afghanistan in general if it weren't for 9/11.

Try this... (-1, Offtopic)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590425)

Pour a Kabul of hot grits down your pants.

Re:Try this... (-1, Offtopic)

Prodigous_Erection (536018) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590726)

CM you spastic fuck! How the hell are you?

Hmmm. (5, Interesting)

Gannoc (210256) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590426)

(Now he's furiously trying to download movies he's missed and is mesmerized by open source and Slashdot.)

He's trying to download movies on a Commodore?

Re:Hmmm. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2590440)

Obviously this is a symbolic story, and not meant to be taken literally. You, however, need to stop trying to find flaws: nobody's impressed, and nobody will mod you up for doing so:

In an effort to restore slashdot [slashdot.org] to it's previous level of quality, I've begun an effort to point out, and mod down, all obvious karma whores and trolls. The job is large, but not impossible.

This poster obviously does not care about the topic, rather he (or she, perhaps), cares only about inflating karma, and to do so, this person has posted absolute crap.

What qualifies as crap on slashdot? Well, quite honestly, about half of the comments ranked above 2.

One way to easily spot a karma whore attempt, is to look for an obvious, but pathetic, post of linux superiority. A linux karma whore will often attempt to point out that linux is the best for job x, even though there may be, and probably are, better alternatives, such as Microsoft for desktops and FreeBSD for servers. These points will be ignored by linux karma whores, as pointing this out will not ensure the positive moderation they desire.

Another method for spotting karma whores is to look for comments posting, verbatim, something stated in the article, or in the editor's summary. While this often includes italicizing the quote, this is frequently a ploy to show that the person read the article, even though it's more likely the person only skimmed to find a comment worth repeating. Additional signs of the repetitive karma whore are: commentary on a quote that says nothing, "mirroring" an article that is not slashdotted, or pointing to google's cache. Also be careful before moderating up posts which link to obviously related sites: karma whores occasionally search popular search engines [google.com] to find related stories in an effort to gain more karma.

The third type of karma whore, one that very often succeeds on slashdot, is the sympathy whore. A sympathy whore often tries to gain karma by appealing to the moderator's sense of decency, either with a story about how they were unfairly fired, perhaps how they were unfairly persecuted, or occasionally how main stream capitalism is trampling on a sense of global decency. The latter tends to link common, benine events to horrific events of the past, making unfair generalizations and calling for action on behalf of a charity rather than carrying on with one's life. Do not let your heart be fooled into thinking that they are genuine: the sympathy whores want nothing more than karma.

Why would someone try to whore karma? Well, the simple answer is that everyone wants to feel smart, or popular. Many posters on slashdot describe themselves as nerds or geeks, societal outcasts. Posting to slashdot is their only true sense of community, and they view karma as a measure of popularity or status. Others karma whore to try to increase revenue and traffic to their own websites. Frequent marks of traffic whores are links in the posts that match the user's homepage, or links to hardware reviews on small sites, where links to purchase the hardware occupy the bottom half of the review. Again, do not let these subtle traffic whores fool you.

With these basic guidelines in mind, go out and moderate. Realize that many of the higher moderated comments are whores, and mod them back down. In an effort to increase the quality of comments, try to mod down no more than 3 posts in a given session ; use your remaining points to moderate some users UP. This ensures that not only are karma whores eliminated but that valid posts are acknowledged.

Re:Hmmm. (2, Insightful)

MaxQuordlepleen (236397) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590443)

yeah I wondered about that too.

Maybe it's an Amiga, although my mental picture was a dusty C-64, tape drive and 300 bps modem.

Amiga perhaps? (3, Insightful)

wiredog (43288) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590478)

I reckon one of those could play movies.

Re:Hmmm. (3, Insightful)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590541)

I agree. Not only that, but Katz is milking the war in Afghanastan again.

There hasn't been enough time for the "little village" to be sent new computers, and how does he even know how to connect to the internet? Dial into his local IP? Junoweb?

Next question. What, in gods name, does this have to do with slashdot? News for nerds?

I hate to flame/troll whatever, but I read this comment [slashdot.org] last Katz article, and I'm starting to agree with it...

Re:Hmmm. (5, Insightful)

Gannoc (210256) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590604)

There hasn't been enough time for the "little village" to be sent new computers, and how does he even know how to connect to the internet? Dial into his local IP? Junoweb?

Yep. I didn't want to be the one to say it, because I fear the mighty, mighty hand of Pro-Katz moderation, but the entire article smells like fiction.

"He just dug out his commodore, one of the only 4 in the village, and now he's pirating movies and is "mesmerized" by open source and slashdot."

I mean, you'd figure that anyone who can get a gnutella client working from a warzone has heard of linux before.

silly question for katz (2)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590432)

How did you email you without electricity. I was under the impression that electricity was hard to get and only kandahar and kabul had it in limited quantities. Even if your friend had solar panels how did he connect without the phone lines? Maybe cnn likes to exagerate the living conditions in afganistan for ratings but I was given a nasty impression on how afgans lived.

Re:silly question for katz (2)

Gleef (86) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590524)

There also exist small generators that work well off of LP Gas or even Alcohol. Not saying that's what he uses, but it's another possibility.

A professional programmer in Afghanistan is likely to have access funds and resources that the average person does not.

Re:silly question for katz (2, Insightful)

J4 (449) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590703)

Um.. If the guys a programmer, what has he been doing since 1995? Working for the Taliban? Or just scratching out code in the dirt? I'm sorry it sounds like BS to me.

Jon Katz Suck Ass! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2590433)

|.- - - -- - - -.|
| |
| Eat My Nuts |
| |
| _ _ _ _ __ _ |
' - -- . . - - - '
| _|/
| ." ".
| /(o)-(o)\
/_)| / |
|_)| '- |
\_)\ '.___.' / |\/|_
| \ \_/ / _| '/
|_\ \.___./ \ ) /
\ \_/\__/\__ ==|
\ \ /\ /\ `\ |
\ \\// \ |
`\ /\ / |
; | \____/
| | |

Message from Slashdot (-1)

tt2k1 (532907) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590437)

Shut the fuck up and go away, you no-talent hack. Hell, Malda can write more interesting and insighful articles than you, and he's gay!

DO NOT OPEN THAT LINK !!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2590503)

unless you are at home and alone... What an ass, is less than -1 possible ? too bad...

Mike Bouma, open source hero, dead at 36. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2590441)

I just heard some sad news on talk radio - open source hero Mike Bouma was found dead in his San Francisco home this morning. There weren't any more details. I'm sure everyone in the Slashdot community will miss him - even if you didn't enjoy his work, there's no denying his contributions to the open source comunity. Truly an American icon.

Downloading movies on a Commodore? (2, Insightful)

sailracer6 (262434) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590450)

So let me get this straight - your friend was catching up with movies on a Commodore?

Still, interesting story.

Re:Downloading movies on a Commodore? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2590669)

An AMIGA is a Commodore, and can do things you linux freaks can't imagine.

about time! (1)

steveargonman (183377) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590451)

It's about time the Afghan's can make their own decisions in peace. I hope they can form a democratic type government and live in peace. :-)

poor bastards... (2)

joss (1346) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590452)

Daisy cutters and cluster bombs are kinda unfriendly. Not exactly "surgical" either..

But Baywatch .. that is too cruel.

STFU!!! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2590454)

STFU Jon. Are you ever gonna write an original piece again? Thought not.

Cornhole Commander Taco needs to hire a real writer, not some journalism school flunkie

Just as : (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2590457)

George W. Bush is a fake president, how do we
know that this story about someone from Kabul
has not been FAKED by the infamous Jon Katz?

Thank you and have an Afghan-opium filled-day.

Jon, you are a moron (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2590460)

To think, Afghans were robbed of their most precious thing by the Taliban, Technology!

Your shit is getting old and tired, Jon. Time for you to find something else to talk about.

Jon, you were trolled (5, Funny)

typical geek (261980) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590461)

Exactly how does an Ubergeek in Afghanistan use an ancient Commodore to download and play movies? My K6-2 barely plays DIVX, and it's only 3 years old.


How can this Afghani geek afford an Ipod? When did DSL/broadband get into Kabul?


This story sounds fishy, but then it is Tuesday.

Re:Jon, you were trolled (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2590553)

Well, maybe the thing he missed most were the Amy the Squirrel movies on his Amiga ... :)

I used to use an Amiga 3000 for my main computer for years before I started using Linux on a PC.

Windows XP Volume License? (-1)

egg troll (515396) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590464)

Anyone got one for Egg Troll?

Uhhhhh... (2, Redundant)

InfinityWpi (175421) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590477)

Does anyone else thing that this sounds an awful lot like someone got a fake email? A hoax, a sham, an untruth? It just seems too... too... too much like what we geeks would want to hear.

Re:Uhhhhh... (1)

caesar-auf-nihil (513828) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590672)

I agree, it does sound a bit too fake. Perhaps it was sent by the same US commandos to help ensure winning the propaganda war.

Unless this guy is talking about an souped-up Commodore Amiga, I can't see him having any success doing any of the things he's claiming he's currently doing, unless he's got satellite access. I had thought just about all phone lines and servers that could connect with Afghanistan were under severe control so Al Qaeda could not send instructions out or get information in. For this guy to just wander around like nothing has changed seems a bit implausible.

Re:Uhhhhh... (1)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590718)

OK, how long ago was Kabul liberated? About a week right.

How did this "Afghani" attain Jon Katz's email address? Its no where on the slashdot site (I think its katz@slashdot.org, but that's cause he had it attached to his "name link" like 6-12 months ago). So this kid gets on the internet and actually does some type of investigating to eventually write an email to Jon Katz.

Yes, this is the lowest Katz has gone! He must be skimming off that moderator crack...

does katz even confirm his sources. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2590481)

yeah my bulshit meter is at 11

The big question (4, Funny)

PanBanger (465405) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590482)

Has he gotten spammed yet?

American culture and junk food (1)

sterno (16320) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590485)

American culture is like junk food. Almost everybody really likes it but they feel bad for liking it. They know they should choose something that's better for them but they can't help it.

I wonder..... (1)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590492)

Does John make this stuff up? I have read many of his features and a lot of them seem to have a taste of fiction of sorts. I am sure it just comes from the slight embelishmnet he places on his writings but it just makes you wonder.

Re:I wonder..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2590635)

Oh, come on. Feel the romanticism of digging up a chicken coop containing one of the village's few secret, dusty Commodore 64s! And an iPod -- what better insanely expensive luxury item for a poor, incredibly impovrished nation to start picking up like mad!

You have to feel the story flow. Liberated geeks! It's got a happy ending!

Well, half the population is less oppressed... (5, Interesting)

daoine (123140) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590502)

They open the theaters, people get their TVs and computers back. It's good.

But the women aren't allowed in the theater, they can't function in public, and they still aren't allowed to see doctors. It's not that removing the Taliban is a bad thing, but for a significant part of the population, the current status really hasn't gotten any better.

Food for thought, and it makes me thankful that I was born in the US and have the ability to say such things...

Forget the US Air Force, here comes the RIAA (5, Funny)

bear_phillips (165929) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590504)

What are the odds that the copy of Independence Day is pirated.

Re:Forget the US Air Force, here comes the RIAA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2590662)

MPAA retard. RIAA is music.

Just a reminder... (5, Insightful)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590519)

This is a good reminder that there are good, forward thinking, open minded people everywhere. You can oppress them but you can't destroy them. It's guys like this who will help lift Afghanistan out of poverty. Let's say he brings over the kids who live in his town and shows them his computer, let's them play old games. Some kid dreams of learning how computers work. He grows up, travels off to an engineering school somewhere, and comes back and starts a technology company in the budding economy of Afghanistan as it modernizes.


Of course, as nice as this sounds, the story is a little strange - I was under the impression there were almost no remaining international phone lines and that electricity was probably out in many of these areas, so I am a bit suspicious. But what do I know, maybe he has a generator and maybe the international phone lines are back up. Also the line about trying to download movies is definitely suspicious. At 9600 baud perhaps? OK, give them the benefit of the doubt, 28.8k. Doesn't sound too believable to me.


So I think this submission is either a bit of a hoax or a bit exaggerated, but it still is a nice sentiment even if the specifics are not true. And hopefully there is a guy somewhere in Afghanistan digging up his old Commodore. :)

Re:Just a reminder... (2)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590566)

Hmm and looking at the story again (did Katz just edit it and add more stuff at the end?) It now mentions iPods and has some really unbelievable quotes in it attributed to this guy.


I'm just trying to figure out if Katz was trolled or if he is knowingly propagating false information. Journalistic integrity == 0.

Re:Just a reminder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2590643)

The fastest baud rate a C64 could handle was 9600 - it couldn't physically handle anything faster. Mind you, in order to hook up even a 9600 baud modem you'd have had to buy a special adapter. Otherwise, you'd be on 2400 baud. Mind you, back in those days, that would make you quite the speed demon.

Re:Just a reminder... (1)

Ivan Raikov (521143) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590702)

This is a good reminder that there are good, forward thinking, open minded people everywhere. You can oppress them but you can't destroy them.

Interestingly, for a long time I had similar beliefs. In fact, there was a line in the Old Man and the Sea which I found particularly inspirational: But a man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated.

Then I read 1984 and its depressing hopelessness made me realize that sometimes, human cruelty and oppression can crush even the most daring and free spirit. But I'm glad those poor devils in Afghanistan are finally the center of all attention, so maybe things will turn good for them.

Re:Just a reminder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2590724)


He grows up, travels off to an engineering school somewhere, and comes back and starts a technology company in the budding economy of Afghanistan as it modernizes.


If he comes to the US, gets an engineering degree he'll never return to Afghanistan. What's there to return to, really? If he goes back, he won't really get paid much. There is too much money to be made here. That is "partially" the reason why places in Africa and Asia lack a really good technological infrastructure. Students leave to come to "America" to get a better life, and when they do get it, most don't return to help their countries with their newly found knowledge and skill. The stay in the US and make money and send a few dollars "back home" to "help", instead of going back.

But you can't really blame them, it's all about the money. Black or white, Asian or American, either way you slice it, it's all about the money. The sad fact is nobody "really" cares.

Okay, I'm rambling. I'll stop now.

In that case... (2, Informative)

MajorBurrito (443772) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590527)

Welcome Back!

NOOOO (-1)

Guns n' Roses Troll (207208) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590538)

Katz, I thought you had died as a result of a freak double-headed 15" black dildo accident. Too bad.

Hrm... I'm skeptic (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2590540)

Apart from the fact that he's supposedly saying that he's "downloading movies" on a commodore (ie a machine with little or no hard drive and no processing power to decode div-x's, with modems that are so antiquated that even downloading a 20meg divx would probably take a few weeks... no wonder he's furious...), it all sounds... I don't know... fake is probably the word.

As for digging up all the forbidden stuff as soon while they could still see the dust from the trucks of the talibans, that is just plain unbelievable. I doubt anyone who's just lived under such an oppressive regime would take that risk. What if they forgot something and drive back up to get it? Just because the trucks have driven away doesn't mean they're gone for good.

I would think that people living under oppressive regimes develop a sort of natural paranoia as a survival mechanism... my father who lived most of his life in communist Romania still has it twenty years after fleeing the country... I find it surprising that afghans would lose it in minutes...

Daniel

Thanks Katz.. (1)

Brother Larry (263249) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590548)

for the very good outlook of what is going on over there. It's nice to see that they can pick up their lives right away.

Passion for pop culture ... (1)

wwight (302660) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590549)

Passion for pop culture relentlessly undermined repressive governments like Poland, East Germany and the former Soviet Union.

So, in the end it will be America's lust for half-naked teen nymphettes (I'm referring to Brittney Spears, Christina Agulera and the like -- not pr0n) that will promote the freedom of information and save us all from terrorism?

Forgive me (2, Insightful)

Wind_Walker (83965) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590550)

Forgive me for being skeptical, but I seriously doubt that an e-mail that got routed through 3 intermediaries before it made its way onto Jon Katz's inbox has any validity.

The people of Afghanistan don't have televisions, they don't have music, and they don't have telephones... but they have e-mail access one day after the Northern Alliance "liberates" the city? And, coincidentally, he likes Open Source and Slashdot? What???

I'm sorry, but I just can't honestly believe this story to be true without some kind of third-party verification. And even then, I'd still be skeptical. It just doesn't sound legit to me...

No wonder America is viewed as corrupt (4, Insightful)

devphil (51341) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590554)


So the top three TV shows mentioned in the story ("acutely missed" is the phrase connected to one of them) are Baywatch, Survivor, and Temptation Island?

Three shows based on the concept of manly men frolicking with scantily-clad women, and in the latter two, premised on the assumption that all humans are conniving backstabbers, and that relationships cannot last in the face of lust, respectively.

And we're trying to convince the Middle East that America is a just and moral nation? Ya ha ha, whatever.

Re:No wonder America is viewed as corrupt (1)

Kengineer (246142) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590665)

Hey, they don't HAVE to watch those three shows in particular. I don't. They can watch the Hughlies or Weakest Link or the emotionally uplifting stories featured on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. We give them what they want, it's not OUR fault if they want to see scantily clad frolicing and what not.

What a dick (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2590556)

Passion for pop culture relentlessly undermined repressive governments like Poland, East Germany and the former Soviet Union.


Michael Jackson overthrows repressive regimes?


Please, what a loser!

Rap? (-1)

I.T.R.A.R.K. (533627) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590558)

He listened to rap?
That's grounds for death in any country, nevermind Afghanistan.

- I throw rocks at retarded kids

Snopes.com (1)

Unknown Poltroon (31628) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590562)

Does anyone else smell hoax? Propaganda?

What is the afghan's people perception? (5, Funny)

deragon (112986) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590570)

You failed to ask the most important questions! ;)

What is the perception of the afghan's people about the US intervention? Do they feel that the sacrifice of innocents (accidents/mistakes on US forces part, but none less deadly) justify their new freedom? Do they feel that westerners should continue to use force to try to democratize Afghanistan? Or should the coalition now leave from their point of view?

I saw on TV an Afghan who lost 8 members of his family to US bombs. Yet, he had one message for the US forces: aim better. He did not asked to stop. Others though were very angry against the US after loosing some family member.

I want to know what the people of Afghanistan wants. I see some demonstrations in western countries asking for the bombings to stop. I say, that we might at least hear what the Afghan have to say. If they believe that the bombings are worthwhile, who are we to ask to stop these actions?

BTW, have you some websites/forums to suggest where we could directly interact with Afghanistan people? I would really like to have a few exchanges with some of them.

maybe too fast (3, Interesting)

archen (447353) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590572)

I hope that things don't move too fast in Afghanistan. It's easy to sit here in the west and think this is all fine and dandy, but if this all gets pushed in too fast it could end up being culture shock to a lot of people, and potentially generate more fundamentalist extremists (who would of course be anti-american). Afghanistan needs to change, but it needs to do it slowly. It needs to find that middle ground that most of the people will find socially acceptable.

Re:maybe too fast (2)

night_flyer (453866) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590644)

change too fast? the majority of the Afghan population just wants food! [msnbc.com] (or was the US dropping computers w/ modems instead of food in those crates?)

Afghanistan is among the world's poorest countries and has the lowest per-person food intake in the world

External constraints (3, Insightful)

DaoudaW (533025) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590574)

For better or for worse, this once again proves that once Pandora's box is open you can't shut it, no matter how hard you try.

Having lived in Africa, I've seen firsthand how quickly, frighteningly so, things can change during a coup d'etat. People whose constraints have been mostly external for some time, lose control very quickly when those constraints are lifted, but within a few days things settle down and they regain their internal control/balance.

Answer some questions? (3, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590575)

Perhaps we can get this guy from kabul to answer some questions for us?

MY GOD (-1, Offtopic)

ReidMaynard (161608) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590577)

I made it through a Katz story without wanting to puke !!

Re:MY GOD (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2590710)

It helps if you don't actually read it. I have found that by skipping right to the comments I can see that may assumptions of the article were correct: more crap more lies more bullshit from Katz

Baywatch (0, Offtopic)

Xenu (21845) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590579)

What's the deal with Baywatch? It seems to be extremely popular outside the United States, even though it gets mediocre ratings in the United States.

Bombs away! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2590594)

Bomb that shithole country until their sand turns to glass so we can see the oil better.

holes in katz's story: (5, Insightful)

turbine216 (458014) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590600)

a few things that REALLY make me think that Katz either made this crap up, or is the victim of a VERY poorly fabricated hoax:

1 - I know it's been said already, but it bears repeating...how does one download MOVIES on an "ancient commodore"? And furthermore, how does one play them?

2 - When you're living in Afghanistan, who do you call to get internet access?

3 - If the guy's using that "ancient commodore", what would prompt him to salivate over an IPod? First of all, it's doubtful that he would have ever acquired even a single MP3 file, let alone enough to fill an IPod. Oh, and Commodores didn't have firewire back in my day. Seems like the guy would be more likely to lust after a 2-year old Athlon system and a broadband connection rather than an IPod.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who noticed this pile of absolute rubbish. Katz should be sent over to Kabul to investigate the situation himself.

As a separate point against this entire letter... (5, Insightful)

Cutriss (262920) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590605)

Didn't the Taliban STRICTLY regulate technology? The Taliban thought the Internet was evil, after all, and outlawed it. So I find it HIGHLY suspicious that someone managed to start up an ISP in the middle of this war, and that someone else out there is more concerned about getting on Slashdot than staying alive and eating, which is what 99% of the Afghani population is probably concerned with.

This was bullshit. Sorry, but it *can't* be legit.

Re:As a separate point against this entire letter. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2590732)

Remember Young ones. E-mail dosen't require direct internet access. People we exchanging e-mail over fido-net and USENET years before the internet was really accessable.

Did he send a picture too? (2)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590616)

Perhaps this "Afghani" sent you a picture he got, too, right? It looks like this [snopes2.com] , right?

I tell my mother when she gets emails like the one you have, katz, is to first check snopes [snopes.com] , then check the local news (if it isn't on the news, then it isn't real, usually).

Think about it. A computer geek in afghanastan finally gets his computer (commodore, mind you), and whats one of the first people he emails? Jon Katz? Hmmm....

Sorry, but I'm waaay to skeptic for this (and I'm religious...)

Slasdot is globalization... (1)

Andreas Rueckert (138510) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590617)

Just recently there was this posting on globalization and I posted that /. means globalization, since it brings people from around the world together. Now I read that /. story on this guy from Afghanistan, while a few minutes away, airlifters start for their 24h trip to bring food to Afghanistan.

Global Village Returns... (2, Interesting)

Embedded Geek (532893) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590623)

It was in the 70's that the term "Global Village" was coined, refering mostly to satelite news media and its ilk. Today's technologies make it cheap and simple enough for everyone to develop their own content without having to pay for a whole bureau for Reuters or BBC in every hamlet. Not only do we see this information revolution fueling the Tienamen Sqaure revolt with FAX machines, but also driving police reform in the States with camcorders showing Rodney King's beating.

I'd never really thought of it before seeing this post, but the one common factor you always hear small town residents use to describe their lives is "Everyone Knows Everyone." I'm probably being a pollyana here, but I believe that the "Global Village" is doing the same thing, helping people throughout the world understand (and hopefully get along) with each other.

I had a grandfather who went to West Point and served with distinction in the U.S. Army in WWII. A good, honorable man in many ways, but also a bigot down to his bones. I can't help but wonder what sort of man he'dve been if he could've clicked on a website growing up and learned how people live in Saudi Arabia or Tokyo or even just the "wrong side of the tracks" in his hometown.

What the people want... (2, Interesting)

thekernel32 (240428) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590629)

Despite the many technical questions this has already raised (movies on ancient computers). I see that this is a fine example for how a government can not retain control of a people if it is not representing their interests. It is especially helpful to remember this anytime I see the US Gov leaders doing things I didn't want them to do when I voted. People will be free, and they can have what they want once they work out what that is and seek it as a group.

Hello Mr. Katz ! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2590630)

Wester/US music was never illegal in the GDR.
You couldn't buy it in stores, but there were a lots of other things you couldn't buy in stores, sometimes even toilet paper.
Pupils where playing Western music on school excursions and no teachers objected.

It was in the 60 illegal to watch Western TV but this was stopped in the 70ies.
However admitting it openly later might have called on the STASI, but only hardcore communists would not watch Western TV.
And this was mainly because of the NEWS and INFORMATION and not entertainment crap.
In this respect, I suppose your stuff here would have been allowed to read in the GDR.

WHOA! (3, Funny)

niekze (96793) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590648)

I got an e-mail from Timmy-bin Hashareef. He has cancer of the appendix. It said for every time you forwarded his e-mail, the Afghanistan chapter of the American Appendix Society would donate little Timmy 3 cents and a camel. It also said that if you didn't forward the e-mail, you would get beaten by the Taliban. SEND OUT THE WORD KATZ! THIS IS 274% TRUE!

haha I want a pink slip with Katz's name on it for Christmas.

MOD PARENT UP!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2590708)

Truer words have never been spoken...

And here's the e-mail that Katz received: (1)

red_dragon (1761) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590649)

Hi! How are you?

I send you this file in order to have your advice!

See you later. Praise Allah!

Well, it could be.

I can't resist... (1)

Quasar1999 (520073) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590650)

A decade ago, when East Berlin teenagers stormed the Wall and crossed over into West Berlin, the first thing many of them did was rush to music stores to buy tapes and CD's they'd been secretly, illegally listening to for years. Oh, ya right! Thats like saying napster fans rushed to buy cds in stores once the cd was officially released, even though they had been listening to it 'illegally' for weeks before... HA!

Jalalabad! (0)

BoarderPhreak (234086) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590666)

Sorry... Just wanted to say "Jalalabad!" :-D

Not that it really matters but... (2)

smoondog (85133) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590667)

As a few others have said before me, I too think this email is a fake. Although there are only a few places in this email that are likely wrong (dl'ing vids on a commodore) many others are highly suspect. My personal favorites are:
  • he'd kept his own decaying poster of Madonna I'm sure all Afghani's love like a virgin
  • He says other coders and gamers hid their PC's as well. The underground geek network in a third world country devastated by war!
  • Junis predicts "Temptation Island" will be the number one show in Afghanistan within a month. I suspected Rupert Murdoch was helping rebuild!
  • hiding spots to dig up their Walkmen, VCRs, TVs, CD players I buried my commodore, too.

It really comes down to this. This email is suspect because it is written in a very american perspective and anybody who has traveled extensively outside of the US knows that most of the world doesn't work or think this way. I feel this person would be just simply unable to gain the ideology expressed here. But on the other hand, I could be wrong.... -Sean

Wil Wheaton Dead At Age 29 (-1, Troll)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590678)

I just heard on the radio that Richard William Wheaton III (Wil Wheaton's full name) was found dead today at his home in LA. I couldn't find any further details. If anyone hears anything else, please post it here.

We will all remeber his wonderful performances as Wesly Crusher on TNG and Gordie Lachance on Stand by Me. Wil has contributed much to society, and I'm sure he will be greatly missed by the readers of Slashdot.

It's not that simple (2)

Eloquence (144160) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590680)

As others have pointed out, the e-mail is very likely to be fake. I see another problem with the article.

When his message came, the Taliban had just fled, Northern Alliance soldiers had taken over his village, and everybody rushed to barbers to cut off their beards and to nearby holes and hiding spots to dig up their Walkmen, VCRs, TVs, CD players, and -- in Junis's case -- his ancient Commodore, one of four in the village. Cafes had popped up all over, with impromptu dances and parties everywhere

Surely life has improved tremendously in the few days since the Taliban left Kabul. And certainly many people are enjoying new (old) freedoms. However, your description is a gross exaggeration -- "everybody", "everywhere". Resistance groups like the RAWA have already expressed concern [false.net] that life under groups like the Northern Alliance will be like life in Afghanistan was in the years before 1996 -- still brutal and repressive, just not in the extreme. While the picture of people shaving their forced beards off in masses or playing music and partying is certainly relieving, it is contrasted by a reality of executions/murders and, likely, rape. (Also, to be sure, many people are quite happy with their beards and appreciated the censorship and repression by the Taliban, much like many Germans supported the nazis completely.) Save the picture of "liberated Afghanistan" for the day when Afghanistan is actually liberal.

Fortunately, the US government seems to be pushing for a secular Afghanistan, but do not be satisfied just because the Taliban are going into guerilla mode. The Northern Alliance are merely the lesser evil.

I'm sorry but (2)

bribecka (176328) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590684)

If I lived under the Taliban for 5 years and finally got back a net connection, emailing JonKatz wouldn't be on the top of my list. Maybe the Taliban really messed with his mind...

Why don't people think this can be done (1)

t0qer (230538) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590693)

On a commodore? TCP/IP stacks have existed for the 8-bit systems for years.

Linux for commordores.
http://hld.c64.org/poldi/lunix/lunix.html

Instructions for getting it to work
http://cbm.videocam.net.au/chapter18.php

Maybe if it had been an Atari it would have been more credable. POWER WITHOUT THE PRICE OH YEAH!

This is a Terrifying Reminder (1)

ksw2 (520093) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590699)

This is another terrifying reminder that Jon Katz is free to comment on potentially thousands of forwarded emails, from all over the world.

It is a chilling, sober reality that we all must face.

Is JohnKatz this gullible? (1)

weez75 (34298) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590701)

I have a hard time believing this story. Most of you probably feel the same way. While Slashdot isn't a primary news provider like CNN it is considered by many of us a place to get information. Now, how in the world can I be expected to believe anything Mr. Katz has to say after this? His reputation is shot...

You're being way too soft on Katz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2590706)

What is all this crap with "aww it's a hoax Katz but thanks for the warm n fuzzy sentiments"..? Why is no one tearing him apart for publishing such an obvious pack of lies under the guise of a news piece? Perhaps you're all taking pity on him for being too daft to recognize a hoax email? But if you ask me he can't be THAT thick, he just simply made up a nice little flag-waver for you all.

Gotcha.... (2)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590725)


For godsake this sounds like the most hockum hooey I've heard in a long time. "Independence Day" as a movie to rent. Lets get this straight

30miles outside of Kabul there is a video shop (lets pretend that one is reasonable) which saved its copies of "Independence Day" which it was renting to an audience which in the vast majority of cases doesn't speak english.

Hokum, baloney and rubbish. This sounds about as likely as a lead balloon circumnavigating the globe. I've read some vomit inducing stuff here from Katz but this takes the biscuit. Quite simply unadulterated rubbish. Movies on a commadore, what browser is our Afghan friend using and what player ?

You've been had Katz by one of the most transparent hoaxes I've ever seen.

I have bridges you might want to buy.

Should we believe you? (1)

Kryptkrwlr_XTC (521685) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590729)

Mr. Katz, Your story sounds to me as if you had just watched a heart-warming holiday film and decided to right this fascade about the little geek that got his Christmas wish ( if he celebrated Christmas ). His country has been in utter turmoil in for the better part of 20 years. between civil war, the US and Russia invading and reducing most of the country to rubble. A zealotous government. Do you really think we are dumb enough to believe that this country still has the infrastructure and resources to: A) provide unlimited phone/DSL/cable/satellite ISP services to the masses ( most people I know outside of the US and Canada pay by the minute for dial-up service) B) physical infrastructure in the form of servers, cable/phone/fiber to allow public use outside of relief and military operations. C) these people could actually pay for these services after housing clothing and feeding their families. ( last time I checked I couldn't barter goats for bandwidth) D) You can't watch movies on a commodore (640k hard disk?) or even cache a image heavy pron site E) Just STFU and save your stories for your kids Katz

FUCK (-1)

Shitsack Comments (256887) | more than 12 years ago | (#2590733)

I guess we missed one.

If you can have him e-mail his coordinates we can send the bombers back.
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