March 30, 2008
WHILE THE GOVERNMENT FIDDLES WITH THE BALLOTS, here are the numbers on Zimbabwe’s meltdown. They’re pretty grim.
WHILE THE GOVERNMENT FIDDLES WITH THE BALLOTS, here are the numbers on Zimbabwe’s meltdown. They’re pretty grim.
OUCH: “Clinton Pushes Housing Market Fixes As Campaign Manager Sits on Board of Bankrupt Lender.” Do read the whole thing, as it explains a lot.
UPDATE: A McCain connection, too.
BLOGGER CLAYTON CRAMER is running for state senate with an Army of Davids approach.
SAN FRANCISCO show-and-tell.
The lights on the suspension cables of the western side of one of the busiest bridges in the world are just for decoration, not for navigation safety or whatever. They sure make a big difference to the look of San Francisco at night when they are turned off.
Question: Turning off these decorative lights for an hour saves enough electricity to power Al Goreâ€™s house (his actual house, not his San Francisco condo SOMA thatâ€™s visible on the right) for how many minutes?
Answer: About 13 minutes. Letâ€™s work on that math, after the jump.
DAVE HARDY: “Who’d ever have dreamed that someday the two leading Democratic presidential candidates would be claiming they supported the Second Amendment individual right? . . . I’ve been involved in this issue for decades, and so have a long term view. It’s been steadily downhill for the other side.”
BITES FROM THE APPLE: A roundup of Apple news. Mac Minis as substitutes for Apple TV, MacBook Air as a Windows machine, and replacing those boring flag lapel pins with Apple-key lapel pins!
AND YET THE PLAN SEEMED FOOLPROOF:
A pizza deliveryman told Des Moines police that he shot a man who robbed him at gunpoint when he delivered a pie late Thursday to a south-side address.
The alleged assailant, Kenneth Jimmerson, 19, was taken to Mercy Medical Center in serious condition. He was charged this morning with first-degree robbery and will be taken to Polk County Jail when released from the hospital, police said.
Melanie Stout, 18, the woman who placed the order for the pizzas, was charged with conspiracy to commit robbery.
Pizza delivery guys are doing God’s work. People who try to rob them deserve to be shot. Meanwhile, Pizza Hut has suspended the driver.
UPDATE: Thoughts from Dr. Weevil.
MORE ON OBAMA’S SELF-INVENTION: Obama keeps bending space and time regarding his biographical details, which is a problem for a guy who’s made his biography such a centerpiece of his campaign.
ASSOCIATED PRESS: Women Push Back in Support of Clinton: “Amid mounting calls from top Democrats for Clinton to step aside and clear the path for rival Barack Obama, strategists are warning of damage to the party’s chances in November if women – who make up the majority of Democratic voters nationwide, but especially the older, white working-class women who’ve long formed the former first lady’s base – sense a mostly male party establishment is unfairly muscling Clinton out of the race.”
IF TRUE, THIS IS UPSETTING: Amazon Insists Publishers Use Their On-Demand Printer. More here.
We’re certainly seeing Amazon move outside its traditional role as distributor and retailer.
Much, much more on this subject at The Daily Brief.
ZIMBABWE UPDATE: Mugabe apparently faces major defeat in Zimbabwe. Only if he runs out of fake ballots.
HILLARY: Not quitting.
A DIARIST AT MYDD IMAGINES general-election attack ads against Obama. “If we choose Obama as our nominee, we are locked-in to this narrative. There is no going back, no bogus NBC polls to save the day. No Anderson Cooper softball interviews or phony charges of racism that will rescue us.” Their mashup doesn’t quite ring true to me, but I suspect it will create a stir among Democrats.
UPDATE: Editorial suggestions.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Ed Morrissey: “Itâ€™s interesting to note that MyDD employed 9/11 footage that even the networks havenâ€™t used for years â€” namely, the people jumping to their deaths in the minutes before the collapse. We finally get to see that again, and only in the context of one Democratic blogger attacking a Democratic candidate. . . . The ‘GOP will use it’ argument simply serves as a dodge for an attack on Obama over the Wright Stuff.”
MORE: Via the comments at the MyDD post — where the Obama backers are quite upset — here’s another homemade anti-Obama ad, though I’m not sure of its provenance. But it’s already gotten 439,000 views.
STILL MORE: An email from a guy who says he’s the MyDD diarist. Click “read more” to read it. And a reader sends this bit of lefty unhappiness with Obama, too.
THIS IS A BIT AWKWARD: “The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit confirmed Thursday the entire Detroit office has been recused from the Al-Hanooti case, but officials would not say why. The case is instead being handled by government lawyers from Washington, D.C. The indictment alleges that an ex-Iraqi Intelligence Service officer asked a former official with the Life for Relief — Muthanna Al-Hanooti — to publicize the damage of U.S. sanctions. As part of that, the indictment alleges, Al-Hanooti helped organize a trip to Iraq by a congressional delegation. Al-Hanooti allegedly received a potentially lucrative oil contract from Saddam’s regime in return for his services.”
A MICKEY KAUS NIGHTMARE? Only if the shirts are designed by Chris Bangle.
A boy in his mid-teens learned Wednesday afternoon that it is not a good idea to try to rob a former U.S. Marine at knifepoint, even if the former Marine is 84 years old, police said today.
Santa Rosa police Sgt. Steve Bair said that’s what happened around 2 p.m. in the 1600 block of Fourth Street. The elderly man was walking with a grocery bag in each arm when the boy approached him with a large knife, Bair said.
The boy said, “Old man, give me your wallet or I’ll cut you,” Bair said. The man told the boy he was a former Marine who fought in three wars and had been threatened with knives and bayonets, Bair said.
The man then put his bags on the ground and told the boy that if he stepped closer he would be sorry. When the boy stepped closer, the man kicked him in the groin, knocking him to the sidewalk, Bair said. The ex-Marine picked up his grocery bags and walked home, leaving the boy doubled over, Bair said.
Perhaps this will divert the young man from a life of crime.
UPDATE: Okay, the story says he’s a Marine, but this video has him as an alumnus of the 101st Airborne. Since he’s wearing a Screaming Eagles hat, I think that’s likely to be right. Do reporters not know the difference?
JOE LIEBERMAN: “I say that the Democratic Party changed. The Democratic Party today was not the party it was in 2000. It’s not the Bill Clinton-Al Gore party, which was strong internationalists, strong on defense, pro-trade, pro-reform in our domestic government. It’s been effectively taken over by a small group on the left of the party that is protectionist, isolationist and basically will –and very, very hyperpartisan. So it pains me. I’m a Democrat who came to the party in the era of President John F. Kennedy. It’s a strange turn of the road when I find among the candidates running this year that the one, in my opinion, closest to the Kennedy legacy, the John F. Kennedy legacy, is John S. McCain.”
Related thoughts here.
STOP-LOSS ORDERS: Saving vets from the hellish civilian economy!
“A DAD IS MORE THAN A PAYCHECK.” Indeed.
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Jacob Sullum writes:
On Friday March 21, a House Appropriations Committee Web site was so overwhelmed by legislators’ wish lists that it crashed, forcing the committee to extend the deadline for earmark requests until Monday. Most members of Congress seem to think the problem with earmarks is like the problem with the committee’s server: not any particular person’s demands, just all of them together. . . .
On the face of it, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain, and the two remaining contenders for the Democratic nomination, Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, take a different view: All three supported a one-year moratorium on earmarks that the Senate recently rejected by a wide margin. But only Mr. McCain has taken a principled stand against the pet projects that legislators love to slip into spending bills.
“We Republicans came to power in 1994 to change government,” Mr. McCain told the Riverside, Calif., Press Enterprise last year, “and the government changed us. That’s why we lost the election: We began to value power over principle.”
Well, he’s got that right.
JERRY POURNELLE thinks that things are going to get tougher for writers:
Borders is up for sale, and Barnes and Noble are in trouble. Just the kind of news one needs to hear. The independent book stores have been pretty well finished off, with very few left and those mostly in trouble. Now the giants which have been in ruthless competition. And there’s still a great deal of fallout from the Sears / Kmart debacles.
We do live in interesting times. Authors may well have no choice but to build a stable of loyal Patrons/subscribers to assure themselves of enough income to be able to do large projects. Or be born with trust funds. In the 40′s, a sale to the Saturday Evening Post brought Stuart Cloete enough money — $4,000 for a short story, think about $35,000 now or what a short TV script brings — to let him write a novel. But that was back then when the Post was important. Now there’s nothing like that except in TV and you don’t get in over the transom.
Book advances keep falling. There’s still money in journalism and general science, but the computer magazines are thinner every issue.
Well, book advances aren’t falling for everybody. Politicians seem to do fine, as Deval Patrick just scored a $1.35 million book advance. People used to write books to advance their political careers. Now, it seems, you become a politician to ensure a hefty advance for your writing. . . .
ANOTHER UPDATE: Various readers think I’m not being obvious enough in pointing out that fat book contracts can be a way of circumventing campaign finance laws, etc. Yes they can! And reader Lee Willis emails:
I remember reading once that many science fiction authors like writing short stories, but it was difficult for them to find a market to sell them. One either has to package a collection of short stories as a book, or get the short-story published in a magazine.
This may no longer be true, b/c of the Amazon Kindle. You can buy individual short stories from Amazon for a buck or two. This may create a new market for short stories, which don’t have to bundled with a book or magazine.
Good point. I don’t know how much you get per reader via the Kindle, but an author with a following could self-publish and keep it all, I imagine.
SHEILA JACKSON LEE booed by Obama backers.
SADR BLINKS: “Six days after the Iraqi government launched Operation Knightsâ€™ Charge in Basrah against the Mahdi Army and other Iranian-backed Shia terror groups, Muqtada al Sadr, the Leader of the Mahdi Army, has called for his fighters to lay down their weapons and cooperate with Iraqi security forces. Sadrâ€™s call for an end to the fighting comes as his Mahdi Army has taken serious losses since the operation began. . . . Since the fighting began on Tuesday 358 Mahdi Army fighters were killed, 531 were wounded, 343 were captured, and 30 surrendered. The US and Iraqi security forces have killed 125 Mahdi Army fighters in Baghdad alone, while Iraqi security forces have killed 140 Mahdi fighters in Basra.” But it’s likely a blink, not a major defeat.
UPDATE: Ed Morrissey: Remind me again â€” whoâ€™s losing in Basra? “Did our media give anyone this context? No. They reported it as some kind of spontaneous eruption of rebellion without noting at all that a nation can hardly be considered sovereign while its own security forces cannot enter a large swath of its own territory. And in the usual defeatist tone, they reported that our mission in Iraq had failed without waiting to see what the outcome of the battle would be.” No surprise there — that’s what they do every time.
MORE: Heh: “The speed at which the MSM went from ignoring Iraq to proclaiming that we were losing was actually pretty impressive. I didnâ€™t know they could move that fast any more. But when they had to back up their narrative of our loss with facts like ’230 people have died in Iraq because of this latest battle’ (not saying where those 230 people were or which side they were on) I knew that the good guys were winning.” It’s like deciphering coverage in the old Soviet newspapers.
BATTLING EDS: Ed Cone says Ed Morrissey is wrong about the media coverage. But one of Cone’s commenters disagrees. The NPR coverage I’ve heard was of a similar tone, though I do remember thinking the other day that if this was an effort to stage a Tet it was failing, because NPR spent more time on a story about contaminated Mozzarella in Italy than on the fighting in Iraq.
STILL MORE: Media criticism from Abu Muqawama.
MORE STILL: The Mudville Gazette: “Few have noticed that this round of fighting – the heaviest occurring in Basra and reportedly with flare ups primarily in the Iraqi-controlled southern provinces – is a fair approximation of what both Democratic Presidential candidates (and most everyone else in America from the President on down) desire for a future US military role in Iraq – providing a support function to Iraqi combat troops. Within the next week we’ll have some idea of how close to reality that goal is.”
Plus, comments from Dean Esmay.
AND MORE: Reader Thomas Wictor suggests that this video explains why Sadr backed down:
Intense firefight in Sadr City in a raid conducted by Iraqi and Coalition special forces. It appears that most of the vehicles and troops are Iraqis.
Don’t let all the pundits and analysts fool you: the JAM is now seriously outgunned by the Iraqi security forces.
Given this level of firepower, do you really think Maliki would “cave in” to al Sadr the way the media is spinning it?
The whole video is shot in Infrared, and it’s interesting how you can see the targeting lasers all over. Michael Yon was just telling me about that the other day, but this is the first time I’ve seen it.
DARFUR UPDATE: “The Arab League is under increasing pressure from Moslem organizations, to pressure Sudan to stop the atrocities in Darfur. The Arab League has defended Sudan to the world, accusing critics of being anti-Moslem. But many Moslems know better, and are appalled at the suffering of the Moslem victims of Sudan’s ethnic cleansing program in Sudan.”
IT’S HARD TO ARGUE: “Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Sunday branded Zimbabwe’s president a ‘disgrace’ to his people and to Africa, and expressed concerns about verifying whether the country held free and fair elections.”
CASH-FLOW MANAGEMENT at Hillary’s campaign: “Hillary Rodham Clintonâ€™s cash-strapped presidential campaign has been putting off paying hundreds of bills for months â€” freeing up cash for critical media buys, but also earning the campaign a reputation as something of a deadbeat in some small business circles.”
PROPERTY LAW in The Lord of the Rings: “Sadly, literary critics have neglected this crucial aspect of Tolkien’s masterpiece for too long.”
ANN ALTHOUSE LOOKS BEYOND the Obama “law professor” controversy. “So, the ‘law professor’ puffery is something on its own. Not all that much, but something. Now, consider the other 9 items, and judge for yourself whether the Clinton campaign has made its point.”
UPDATE: A reader emails disagreement: “Hey, there is a lot to Obama presenting himself early on as a Chicago law professor. It might pass as just an embellishment now, but a year ago it carried some gravitas. To this layman, anyway, being a professor meant that at some point it was a full time job. So my first take on Obama was a law professor who was also politically active, especially in less privileged areas of the community. And that was cool. And that was not true. First appearances matter. But it did help get him in the door. Now I’m watching him try and get the super duper new vacuum working on the carpet and Hilary’s outside with the encyclopedias screaming about how I should never have let him in.” Hmm. Hillary and Obama as competing door-to-door salesmen. Sounds like an I Love Lucy episode — SNL writers take note!
AN ELECTION REPORT FROM ZIMBABWE:
Lines were long at the polling stations here well before morning had unscrolled its first light. And when the doors did not open exactly at 7 a.m., voters in the impoverished township of Warren Park rushed the schoolyard gate, most of them desperate to cast a ballot to oust the man who has been president for most of their lives, Robert Mugabe. . . . Still, Mr. Mugabe is so often accused of stealing the last presidential election that many Zimbabweans scoff at the very notion of a fair vote. In 2002, reported results had challenger Morgan Tsvangirai piling up a big lead. Then, suddenly, the announcements stopped. When they resumed, hours later, Mr. Mugabe was well ahead.
UPDATE: More here: “Zimbabwe’s opposition said on Sunday it had won the most crucial election since independence, but President Robert Mugabe’s government warned premature victory claims would be seen as an attempted coup.”
THE CARNIVAL OF THE LIBERTARIANS IS UP, over at The Line is Here.
MORE ON EVENTS IN IRAQ, from Bill Roggio.
IMMIGRATION IDIOCY, from Michael Totten.
TEACHING ABOUT RESPONSIBLE DRINKING. Unsurprisingly, the bluenoses turn out to be wrong.
MOHAMMED FADHIL: Whither Sadr and the Madhi Army?
EXTREME MACHINES: Wild Wheels.
ATTACKING EPILEPSY PATIENTS via computer exploits?
The incident, possibly the first computer attack to inflict physical harm on the victims, began Saturday, March 22, when attackers used a script to post hundreds of messages embedded with flashing animated gifs.
Good grief. That’s just tacky.
A CTHULHU SIGHTING in Knoxville?
BEER YOU CAN LISTEN TO! Er, or something like that. It’s Craft Beer Radio.
MORE RESVERATROL NEWS: “Mounting evidence shows red wine antioxidant kills cancer.”
NORM GERAS ON Zimbabwe’s “elections.”
ANGELA MERKEL will boycott the Chinese Olympics.
A BUNCH OF INTERESTING PODCASTS, at Loquitur.
BETWEEN EAST AND WEST: Michael Totten in The New York Times.
WAS OBAMA A “REAL” LAW PROFESSOR? I don’t think that this dispute will swing many votes even within the legal academy. . . .
JAMES CARVILLE: Yeah, I called that Benedict Arnold a Judas! And he is! “Heck, I give myself some credit for managing to get the Clinton and Obama campaigns to agree on something — that neither wanted to be associated with my remarks. . . . If Richardson was going to turn on the Clintons the way he did, I see no problem in saying what I said. Because if loyalty is one virtue, another is straight talk. And if Democrats can’t handle that, they’re going to have a hard time handling a Republican nominee who is seeking the presidency with that as his slogan.”
DEAN BARNETT on action vs. words.
CALLING FOR A Murtha ethics investigation.
STOP-LOSS IS D.O.A.: “I’m told #7 Stop-Loss opened to only $1.6 million Friday from just 1,291 plays and should eke out $4+M. Although the drama from MTV Films was the best-reviewed movie opening this weekend, Paramount wasn’t expecting much because no Iraq war-themed movie has yet to perform at the box office.” And yet they keep churning out these antiwar bombs.
Related item here.
UPDATE: Reader Dave McCune suggests “an X-Prize for an Iraq war movie that doesn’t suck:”
Proposed ground rules:
1) US armed forces, allies, and their supporting families are the good guys
2) Jihadis are the bad guys
3) Freedom-seeking civilians are caught in the middle
4) #1 defeats #2 to liberate #3.
How hard can that be? Itâ€™d be entertaining, closer to the truth, and would probably make a ton of money.
I know Iâ€™d both donate to a prize fund and go see the product.
I suspect a lot of people would.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Don Wolff says it doesn’t matter, as Hollywood will soon be replaced by videogame-based platforms for moviemaking anyway. “One or two more generations in tech development, who’ll need Hollywood to make movies?”
Meanwhile, here’s a less-than-positive review of Stop-Loss: “What is possibly left to say about a poorly produced, poorly acted, poorly directed, and very poorly written anti-war film that defames our troopsâ€¦? Whatâ€™s left to say that hasnâ€™t been said about the dozen or so that came before? The only new angle here is that weâ€™re told Stop-Loss is co-written by a conservative. Either this poor guy was steamrolled flat in story meetings or itâ€™s true that Hollywoodâ€™s idea of a conservative is someone who only kinda hates President Bush.”
And Tom Brosz emails:
Dave McCune says “I know Iâ€™d both donate to a prize fund and go see the product.”
I noticed on your link to Outside the Wire that they are trying to sell 2,900 DVDs to make their point. Maybe you need to plug that a little harder.
Consider it done!
MORE: McCune emails back:
Thanks for the tip about Outside The Wire. Iâ€™m going to buy one and then donate it to my local library. Lord knows they already have enough copies of Bowling for Columbine. If any of your readers inquire seriously about starting a prize, feel free to forward them.
STILL MORE: Reader Pete Jernakoff emails:
I’d love to see a movie made from David Bellavia and John Brunning’s book entitled ‘House To House’ which chronicles the US Army’s advance into Fallujah in November, 2004. It is absolutely riveting. And the US Army are the good guys! I cast my vote for Bruce Willis as Staff Sargent David Bellavia.
That would be cool.
ADVICE FOR BLOGGERS AND HOME-BASED WORKERS who don’t get out enough. “Home-based? Feeling like your work-in-pajamas lifestyle has gone a little too far. Forgetting social formalities? Not brushing your teeth until early afternoon? Forgetting to shave? All signs that you may be suffering from homepreneuritosis.”
I’VE NEVER BEEN PERSUADED by the periodic calls for a “Science Court” to decide contested scientific disputes. (Though it does have a certain appealing Planet-Krypton ring to it.) But if ever there were a case for such a court it would be this one over potential dangers posed by the Large Hadron Collider. I suspect, however, that it will be disposed of on mundane grounds of standing and jurisdiction.
STILL MORE ON THE VACCINE-AUTISM CLAIM: And John McCain still needs to address this, and stop getting his health-policy advice from Don Imus.
Michael Yon called on his satellite phone to talk about what’s going on in Iraq. I recorded it and it’s up here for your listening pleasure — nothing fancy, just a quick recording posted less than 20 minutes after it happened. Click here to listen.
A few key points: (1) It’s likely to get worse before it’s better; (2) No one seems to doubt Iranian backing for the violence; (3) This isn’t about religion, it’s about money and power; and (4) Unlike Al Qaeda in the north, this isn’t so much a fight to the finish as violence as a negotiating tactic. It’s not a civil war. Take a listen, and then take a moment to marvel at today’s technology, which lets me do this stuff from my basement at the spur of the moment.
Meanwhile, Michael has a book coming out, Moment of Truth in Iraq. If you buy it through his site, you can get an advance copy shipping Monday. Otherwise it’ll be out in a few weeks. (Bumped to top, since a lot of people may have missed it last night).
UPDATE: A reader who asks for anonymity emails:
Michael Yon is the same man who said that the sectarian strife after the 2003 invasion and before the 2007 surge was actually a civil war between Sunni and Shiite groups (I didn’t entirely agree with him, but I wasn’t over there as he was and is now), so for him to say that the current conflict in the south is not a civil war is a pretty big deal in my opinion.
Yeah, I assumed everyone knew that but I suppose it’s worth pointing out.
Also, partial transcript here.
HEATING UP: “Sen. Hillary Clinton’s most prominent African-American supporter in Pennsylvania says that had he been a member of Sen. Barack Obama’s church, he would have left because of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s fiery and controversial sermons.” He’ll be on World News Tonight talking about it.
AZIZ POONAWALLA is hosting Fitna on his site, even though he’s not a fan.
THE AFGHAN VERSION of American Idol: “The show has its own Ryan Seacrest â€” a hip medical student at Kabul University named Daoud Sedidi. The panel of judges is two men and a woman â€” Monesa Sherzad Hassan, a professor at Kabul University â€” who sits between the guys, just as Paula Abdul does, interjecting when she canâ€™t take any more of the bad singers and praising the good ones.” Does Ann Althouse know about this?
MICKEY KAUS: “McCain may or may not be blocking Heath Shuler’s immigration-enforcement bill–Shuler says yes, Brian Faughnan argues no, and McCain’s camp denies it. But shouldn’t McCain at least have to take a position on the bill, if he’s such a secure-the-borders-first man? . . . The dirty secret, of course, is that the Dem leadership isn’t blocking the bill because its unpopular with House Democrats. They’re blocking it because it’s popular with House Democrats, who’d love to have a tough-on-illegals bill to vote for before the 2008 election. “
DIRTY TRICKS: “The Texas Democratic Party on Friday urged delegates to today’s senatorial district and county conventions to ignore e-mails and robotic phone calls telling them that the conventions have either been canceled or had their times changed.”
IT’S LIKE SOME MUTANT OFFSPRING of the DIY Channel and Jewelry Television: Make your own engagement ring. Readers: Would you do this?
UPDATE: Reader Nancy Revy emails:
As someone in the diamond business I have to tell you that I actually think this is pretty cool. Buying a basic diamond for an engagement ring shouldn’t be a intimidating experience. This Amazon page gives the basic client the ability to see what you can get in different cuts and clarity if you hold the price steady. With this information a buyer can go to his local jeweler and see if they can beat the price, given the same criteria for the stone. The key on all of this is the GIA certification, that way you can compare apples to apples, so to speak.
Diamond dealers have a couple of online sources similar to this Amazon page where they can input their criteria, size, color, cut etc. and get a list of available stones that fit their needs. They then make purchasing decisions based on the price versus the price on the weekly RAP sheet. As wholesale dealers we try to buy at 20% off the RAP price and sell to the client at 10% off RAP. A retail store like Tiffany will typically sell a diamond at the RAP price plus 30% percent or more.
For smallish diamonds there is no mystique. They are a commodity and their prices depend on supply and speculation…like other commodities. It’s only when you are working with rare large white and colored diamonds, that the pricing issue becomes murky.
Yesterday at my office I was messing about with a 29 carat diamond. It was so big that I thought it was fake! Someone had to tell me to put down the giant rock!
But Glenn seriously, I know how much you love Amazon, but when you get around to buying the beautiful Dr. Helen a nice little rock for your anniversary, give me a call.
The Insta-Wife isn’t that much into jewelry, but I did buy her some diamond earrings on Valentine’s day. They were not 29 carat, however. Good lord.
Meanwhile, reader Matthias Shapiro writes:
recently purchased an engagement ring and I actually used that very same diamond finder to get an idea of what good diamond prices should be given the cut, clarity and size that I (she) wanted. It was an invaluable tool for establishing some base values so I didn’t get ripped off, which I found was dangerously common. And the lack of sales pressure while I get some understanding of diamonds was really nice.
While I might purchase a diamond that way, I would never use it to select a complete ring, largely because (Amazon techies take note) there is only one view of the ring and it is really hard to get a good perspective on it. Plus theres a lot to be said for seeing it on her hand which is, of course, the ultimate goal.
Yes, this will impose some price discipline even if it never gets a big share of the market. And reader Ananth Sarathy emails:
Recently got engaged, and most people I know and talked to already did something like this, shopping for the stone and then picking a setting. Anyone who makes rings can find the diamond you want based on the certificate number…
Sure everyone knows about color, carat and clarity, but the big secret it looking at the cut angles to get the mathematical idea of how much light will be reflected out (Sorry I am an engineer, so science helps me deal with spending that kind of money on a rock):
You plug in the angle information, and it gives a very good idea about the *sparkle* factor of the diamond, which I find, woman are much more concerned about than they originally realize.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Myron Ledford writes: “I did it this past January…I got hooked on Amazon Prime (thanks/curse you) so I decided to look at engagement rings that Amazon had to offer and saw the design your own ring tool. I used it to design a ring for my fiancee that we both love and saved about $200. We did have a problem with the band, it broke about a month after we got it but it needed to be resized anyway. One thing I enjoyed was there was no salesperson to let out slight sighs and tut-tuts as I moved the slider closer to the $100 diamonds than the $125K ones…” Yes, the absence of personal attention can be a minus, or a plus . . . .
MORE: Reader Paxton Helms writes:
Blue Nile has been doing the same thing with diamonds for a whole lot longer than Amazon. I have been 100% satisfied with them. Just a great company and a very smooth diamond purchasing interface. Would hate to see a great site not get mentioned as long as you are talking about Amazon.
And, no, Iâ€™m not an employee or PR flack for Blue Nile!!
News to me, but I haven’t been in the engagement-ring interest zone for a while, and hopefully won’t be again.
SILLY JAKE: Of course John Kerry’s medals mattered. He was a Democrat. And of course John McCain’s service doesn’t mean anything positive. He’s a Republican. It’s as simple as that, in DeanWorld.
And as stupid, since Dean’s dumb remarks will bring more positive publicity to McCain, and play up the contrast in this department with Hillary and Obama.
THIS SEEMS RIGHT, to me: “I have no doubt now that the biggest obstacle to Obama’s being able to unify the Democratic Party is likely to be the behavior of Obama blogs, Obama radio talk show hosts, the Obama network (NBC), Obama supporters and the Obama campaign itself.” As with Ron Paul, Obama’s online supporters are doing a lot to put off people who might otherwise be persuadable.
Meanwhile, Taylor Marsh writes: “If the elite DC Dems keep trying to push Clinton from this race, Hillary’s supporters will sit the November election out or worse, protest the party’s actions by voting for John McCain.” See the item just below.
THE WAGES OF IDENTITY POLITICS: Clinton’s women supporters fear her bid has unleashed a sexist backlash:
Just as Barack Obama’s campaign has been empowering for African-Americans, Sen. Clinton’s run has inspired women across the country, drawing millions to the polls and putting her in a neck-and-neck battle for the nomination. She has already gone farther than any woman before her — a source of great pride for her women supporters.
But her campaign has also prompted slurs and inflammatory language that many women thought had been banished from public discourse. Some women worry that regardless of how the election turns out, the resistance to Sen. Clinton may embolden some men to resist women’s efforts to share power with them in business, politics and elsewhere.
Read the whole thing. Meanwhile, Victor Davis Hanson worries that the Obama/Wright flap has brought about “disastrous regression in race relations.”
LIVIN’ ON TUZLA TIME: If you missed it on XM Satellite Radio, you can now hear this week’s PJM Political online. Now with extra monkeyfishing!
JONATHAN RAUCH: A new politics? Or a new pandering?
THOUGHTS ON THOSE CANADIAN TAR SANDS:
At a time when saying anything good about fossil fuels is like declaring war on the environment, it may seem like wishful thinking to press for an expansion of U.S. oil refining capacity.
Yet it is precisely this sort of thinking that is necessary if we are to make use of a vast, secure and reliable supply of fuel from Canada’s oil sands.
The tar sands hold an estimated 174 billion barrels of crude oil, making Canada’s oil-sands deposits second only to Saudi Arabia in global reserves. The U.S. currently obtains 1 million barrels a day from Canada’s tar sands, but with planned investments the daily supply could exceed 3 million barrels by 2015.
Seems like we should be making those. Then there are reports — which I still regard as iffy, though much of the blogosphere seems excited about them — regarding a potentially just-as-big discovery in the Bakken oil formation of North Dakota. I certainly hope they’re true, and we’ll see. There’s also lots of oil shale in Colorado.
IN THE AGE OF THE PHARAOHS, life basically sucked:
Studies on the remains of ordinary ancient Egyptians in a cemetery in Tell el-Amarna showed that many of them suffered from anemia, fractured bones, stunted growth and high juvenile mortality rates, according to professors Barry Kemp and Gerome Rose, who led the research. . . . The study showed that anemia ran at 74 percent among children and teenagers, and at 44 percent among adults, Rose said. The average height of men was 159 cm (5 feet 2 inches) and 153 cm among women.
“Adult heights are used as a proxy for overall standard of living,” he said. “Short statures reflect a diet deficient in protein. … People were not growing to their full potential.”
As Robert Fogel has noted, we take for granted today conditions that are a huge departure from basically all of human history.
WHY BLOG? Reason No. 92: Book Deal! As I can attest, those can be sweet.
MORE THOUGHTS on the problem of PC-induced starvation.
ANOTHER FREE ONLINE PHOTO EDITOR: Earlier, I mentioned Photoshop Express, but a reader recommended Picnik.com and I gave it a try. It’s quick, free online basic photo editing package. Not a lot of fancy features, but not bad at all and easy to use. And free!
ROBOSEXUALITY: Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Not everything’s perfect, though: “I’m limited to what games I can play because I have Vista.”
YOU GET SOME AMUSING JUXTAPOSITIONS ON TECHNORATI, SOMETIMES.
MAKING PROFESSORS PAY for late grades:
Florida State is what she believes to be the only institution in the country that fines its professors when they turn grades in late at semesterâ€™s end. The tab: $10 per grade.
â€œWe charge for every grade for every student that is not turned in by our deadline,â€ Barber said, adding, slowly for emphasis: â€œIâ€™ll say that again: Every grade for every student that is not turned in by our deadline.â€
Here at UT, fear of the registrar’s wrath provides sufficient discipline.
OKAY, IF IT WEREN’T FOR GLORIA ALLRED, this Hugo Chavez pic would be the picture of the day.
FORCING OBAMA TO take a stand on affirmative action.
SO I MET JARED AT THE MALL TODAY: Nice guy, but came across as kinda two-dimensional. I imagine his “ridiculously hot girlfriend” is, um, more well-rounded.
MORE ON THE IRAQI ARMY VS. THE MAHDI MILITIA from Bill Roggio. Just got a voice mail from Michael Yon, too — hoping to get a report from him soon.
UPDATE: Further thoughts here.
ANOTHER UPDATE: More here: “One thing to keep in mind is Muqtada al Sadr, the leader of the Mahdi Army, is pressing for an end to the fighting. If Sadr’s Mahdi Army was doing so well, why would he call for an end to the fighting?”
OUCH: “According to new data released by the Newspaper Association of America, total print advertising revenue in 2007 plunged 9.4% to $42 billion compared to 2006 — the most severe percent decline since the association started measuring advertising expenditures in 1950. ”
UPDATE: Reader Johann Erickson emails: “Last time I put a ‘help wanted’ ad in my local paper, it cost me about $500. I got 6 faxes, 5 were unqualified for the job. I put an ad on Craigslist for free and got about 40 resumes. About 10 qualified for the job. Why would I ever use a newspaper again? Classified ads were the biggest drop, 16.5% or so. Just another dinosaur dying.” As I said, ouch.
MORE: Jeff Jarvis: “The situation is desperate.”
Plus, a recovery plan: “Hire more lefties to report anti-American stories, and whenever possible, betray national security secrets. . . . Avoid at all costs running columns by Mark Steyn and others with dedicated followings.” That’ll work!
KERRY HOWLEY: How Fear of Life-Saving Technology Swept Through Africa.
In May 2002, in the midst of a severe food shortage in sub-Saharan Africa, the government of Zimbabwe turned away 10,000 tons of corn from the World Food Program (WFP). The WFP then diverted the food to other countries, including Zambia, where 2.5 million people were in need. The Zambian government locked away the corn, banned its distribution, and stopped another shipment on its way to the country. â€œSimply because my people are hungry,â€ President Levy Mwanawasa later said, â€œis no justification to give them poison.â€
The corn came from farms in the United States, where most corn producedâ€”and consumedâ€”comes from seeds that have been engineered to resist some pests, and thus qualifies as genetically modified.
Death before political incorrectness.
LESSON: If you don’t like a film, threaten violence. Then people will take it down. Is this really the message folks like LiveLeak want to send? Because it’s the message they’re sending, over and over again. “Share and enjoy.”
UPDATE: Now the Poligazette link above is down — “Account Suspended.” Don’t know why. But you can still see Fitna on Google Video.
Meanwhile, here’s more on the film:
Speaking to various media about this today, it’s interesting that the first sense of shock is that the footage which Wilders includes is so bloody. Of course Wilders didn’t create this footage – the jihadis did. But it raises an interesting question about the mainstream media. In the last seven years the MSM has gone out of its way to spare the public from seeing the most barbarous acts of our enemies. As we discovered when the BBC infamously pixellated the cartoons two years ago, even Danish drawings have been deemed too upsetting to broadcast of late. The footage in Wilders’ film of the victims of jihad is therefore especially sobering. It isn’t pleasant viewing, but then jihad isn’t pleasant viewing, and if this is what it takes to alert people to the savagery of the threat we all face, Muslims included, then there it is.
I hope as many non-Islamists as possible see the film and consider its implications. But I also hope that the Islamists themselves are not so stupid as to fall into the oldest idiocy of theirs: that is the one which says “Say my religion is peaceful or I will kill you.”
Oops. Too late. And in LiveLeak’s defense, I guess their pulling the film just proves Wilders’ point.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Allah:
Donâ€™t worry, the filmâ€™s still around. Google Video has it for the moment and I hear that itâ€™s up and down on YouTube too. When all else fails, just search for â€œfitnaâ€ and â€œtorrentâ€ and all should be well. They donâ€™t call it â€œviral videoâ€ for nothing: Once itâ€™s released into the population, you can never quite stamp it out. LiveLeak did its job for as long as it needed to.
I’d like to see the threateners more scared than LiveLeak, though.
MORE: Pat Dollard has posted Fitna and says he won’t be taking it down in response to threats.
And here’s a YouTube link that’s working at the moment.
FINALLY: Poligazette is back online. They were down for 3 hours, and don’t know why their hosting service suspended them. And more thoughts and discussion here.
CAN OBAMA DISOWN WRIGHT? Yes he can!
VIDEO: A trailer for the forthcoming new version of Grand Theft Auto.
CLARITY AND GUESSING: More on the Texas Democratic Caucus confusion.
STANLEY KURTZ: “After listening to these autobiographical excerpts from Barack Obamaâ€™s Dreams From My Father, read out loud by Obama himself, Iâ€™m left with the conviction that, in the 2008 election we are facing the mother of all cultural battles.” Oh, goody.