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Monthly Archives: June 2004

After Action Report

June 30th, 2004 - 9:45 pm

Actually, still in the middle of the action. Here’s what I’ve done since Saturday:

Drove up to Denver.
Drove out to Brush, CO.
Jumped out an airplane.
Drove back to Denver.
Helped throw a bachelor party.
Witnessed many fake breasts.
Was somehow allowed to consume four vodka martinis in 2.5 hours.
Continued partying with the bachelorettes.
Drove back to the Springs, hungover.
Cleaned a garage.
Cleaned an entire basement.
Moved 30+ cubic feet of dirt.
Removed tile.
Helped replace tile.
Carted tile somewhere out of the way, waiting for trash day.
Hoarded Independence Day party supplies.
Cleaned the damn basement again.
And the garage.
Disassembled the over-built bathroom vanity which used to be our wet bar.
Hauled several cubic hectares or something worth of construction garbage out to the curb.
Made four trips to Home Depot.
Fought with the electrician.
Endured a muscle-relaxant hangover.
Fought with the general contractor.
Three times.
Fought with the landscapers.
Seeded the lawn.
Fertilized the lawn.
Cursed at the never-ending rain for washing away all the grass seed and fertilizer.
Thanked Whomever that Will Collier has somehow found some time to post some fine items to this website.

And too many other small chores to list.

Regular blogging will resume Tuesday, July 6 — assuming I get some sleep on the 5th. Smart readers, however, will have already placed their bets on my being too hungover.

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June 30th, 2004 - 8:55 am

McHale’s Steve’s Navy.

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Oh, That Nuclear Program

June 30th, 2004 - 8:31 am

One thing before I get back to removing old tile:

Comes now a front-page story in The Financial Times by Mark Huband, that international newspaper’s security correspondent, headlined “Intelligence Backs Claims Iraq Had Talks on Uranium.”

Were the documents on which Bush based his charge fake? Yes; though “legal constraints” prevent the F.T. and the Italian magazine Panorama from identifying the suspected forger, the source is reportedly a convicted con man who tried to peddle phony yellowcake papers to several spy services. No wonder everybody belatedly ran from any notion that Iraq sought the uranium product from Niger.

But hold that horselaugh: “Embarrassment on fake documents obscured earlier intelligence that Iraq may have been trying to buy uranium,” notes an F.T. subheading. Huband writes: “Three intelligence services were aware of possible illicit trade in uranium from Niger between 1999 and 2001. Human intelligence . . . had shown Niger officials referring to possible illicit uranium deals with at least five countries, including Iraq. This intelligence provided clues about plans by Libya and Iran to develop their undeclared nuclear programs.”

That’s Bill Safire in today’s NYT. Read the whole thing.

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The Mighty Blair Rolls On

June 30th, 2004 - 5:49 am

The Mighty Tim Blair, that is. I’ve no idea how I missed this; I normally read Blair obsessively. At any rate, he graciously turned his column in The Bulletin (Australia) over to a trio of Iraqi bloggers last week, and the results are facinating.

As Jeff Jarvis observes,

[B]ig-time American journos should be ashamed of themselves they didn’t think of this first. It has been there, on the web, right under their noses, all along.

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When Mama Ain’t Happy, Nobody’s Happy

June 30th, 2004 - 5:21 am

Sgt. Mom (of Team Stryker), doesn’t bother taking names today, going directly to the kicking of ass:

This reminds us again of where we came from, as Americans, and why we— or our ancestors left. They were economic migrants, losers in political bun fights, religious non-conformists, convicts, criminals, cranks, deadbeats and weirdoes, fleeing from the law, from conformity, the stake and the lash, from poverty, land clearances, pogroms, men with guns, the dead hand of nobility of both the ready made and inherited kinds, and the intellectual set that whores for established authority. Against all confident expectation, we throve and prospered, prospered to an incredible degree, all these outcasts and ner

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Morning Roundup

June 30th, 2004 - 5:11 am

A few things that caught my eye ’round about sunrise:

Saddam’s worst nightmare is coming true. We’ve turned him over to his own people for justice.

Massive pro-democracy demonstrations are on tap in Hong Kong. From the article:

Organizers expect 300,000 people to brave stifling heat to press Beijing to allow them greater voting rights. That is less than the half a million who poured onto the streets on July 1 last year, but the desire for more democracy does not appear to have dwindled.

Last July 1, half a million people poured into Hong Kong’s streets to denounce plans by the local Beijing-backed government to enact a tough anti-subversion law, criticize its handling of the weak economy and demand more political freedom.

The outpouring of public anger shocked Chinese leaders, who fear growing calls for democracy here could spill over into the mainland.

This event deserves major-league blogosphere coverage.

The LA Times realizes (belatedly) that the “Gore Tax” is a huge boondoggle. They can’t quite bring themselves to call for its abolition, but it’s a start.

According to Gallup, 70% of Americans “probably or definitely” won’t be reading Bill Clinton’s new book.

The British Labour Party plans to put a public smoking ban in its next electoral platform. I’ve no idea whether this helps or hurts Tony Blair today, but most of the Brits I encountered when I lived over there in 1990-91 smoked like they had titanium lungs. Still, if it can happen in California, Florida, and New York City, I suppose it could happen in Britain.

If you get stopped by a registration requirement, click over to BugMeNot.com, the second most useful site on the web right now (after Google), for an anonymous login and password.

And finally, the “Ouch” of the day goes to a reader who commented under my “Feedback” post:

Yes? Rush? ZZ Top? Pink Floyd? King Crimson? Aerosmith? How old are you people?

It’d be even funnier if he hadn’t gone on to reference two bands (the Pixies and Cure) who’re currently on 20th anniversary tours themselves…

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Honesty Counts

June 29th, 2004 - 2:32 pm

Jim Dunnigan:

Iraqi terrorists released a video showing them killing a captive American soldier by shooting him in the head. The terrorists have learned that the beheading routine is counterproductive and even offends many of their own supporters. The terrorists are probably also debating their suicide bombing campaign, which has killed over a hundred Iraqis in the past week. Perhaps the al Qaeda leadership is also pondering their long string of failures over the last decade or so. The fact of the matter is that al Qaeda, and their predecessor, the Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt, have turned Arab populations against them whenever they practiced their terror tactics “at home.” Moreover, when al Qaeda was in control of the government, as they were in Afghanistan, they quickly became hated by the average Afghan. Al Qaeda was most popular in Arab countries when it was not operating in any Arab countries, but instead concentrating on attacks on Western targets. But the war on terror has forced al Qaeda back to its homelands, and concentrated them in Iraq. There, al Qaeda is becoming as hated as it already is in the West.

Read the rest here.

Since the Bush administration chose to disguise the real reason we went to war in Iraq, it’s hard for them now to trumpet successes like the great big strategic victory described above.

What a damn shame.

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Tour De Force

June 29th, 2004 - 1:26 pm

There are so many great lines in this long Hudson Review piece by Bruce Bawer on European anti-Americanism (via Los Bros Judd), I don’t even know where to start. So just take my word for it, click, and start reading.

Okay, okay, just one:

During the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, the only time I saw pro-war arguments fairly represented in the Scandinavian media was on an episode of

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News From The Rear

June 29th, 2004 - 12:57 pm

Here’s a facinating first-person account from a recently-returned US Marine about how the Washington Post’s Baghdad bureau is mis-reporting the news (big hat tip to the Blogfaddah). The punchline:

Since I saw [Post bureau chief] Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s integrity up close, I haven’t believed a word he writes, or any story coming out of the bureau he runs. You shouldn’t, either.

Gee, I wonder if the Post will pick this one up as an op-ed?

Since you already know the answer to that, read the whole thing at the link above. Like lots of other important stories, you won’t be seeing it in newsprint anytime soon.

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Through The Rings

June 29th, 2004 - 12:15 pm

After a seven-year journey, Cassini arrives at Saturn tomorrow night, the voyage culminating with a 96-minute (!) orbital insertion burn that will carry the spacecraft through the planet’s outer rings. Here are a couple of sites for keeping up with history in the making:

Official NASA Cassini site

Cassini Imaging Center

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Steyn On The Blob

June 29th, 2004 - 11:52 am

Note to self: Self, don’t ever annoy Mark Steyn. The aftermath isn’t pretty:

Bush has always been the issue for Moore. On September 11 itself, his only gripe was that the terrorists had targeted New York and DC instead of Texas or, indeed, my beloved New Hampshire: “They did not deserve to die. If someone did this to get back at Bush, then they did so by killing thousands of people who DID NOT VOTE for him! Boston, New York, DC and the plane’s destination of California

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June 29th, 2004 - 10:43 am

What’s your favorite band?

Are they still around, still recording and/or touring? If so, do you still get that particular buzz of excitement the day the “new” album comes out? Do you drop the disc in your CD player for the first time with an anticipation unmatched by any other album you’ll buy that year?

And do you still fell that pang of sadness as the last new song fades out, that little fear that this might be the last time you hear a new song from that band?

For me, “that band” is Rush, and has been since roughly 1982.

I know, I know. What a surprise, an engineer who’s also a Rush fan–hey, have you heard the one about how a chemistry lab broke out in the middle of one of their concerts?

Yeah, heard that one, but in the immortal words of Barney Frank, let’s move on.

Today is the release date of Rush’s twenty-third album, this one’s titled Feedback. It’s something of a first for the band, an EP (remember EP’s?) of late-60′s covers, songs that inspired the band members themselves to pick up their instruments as teenagers.

I just played it for the first time, and it’s wonderful. It’s been forever since I’ve bought a record (you can get it on vinyl, appropriately enough) that’s as much fun for the fan to hear as it obviously was for the artists to record. The high points are a blistering Who-esqe “Summertime Blues,” a really tasteful take on Buffalo Springfield’s “Mr. Soul,” and the closer, “Crossroads,” delivered in a fashion that would make both Robert Johnson and Eric Clapton proud.

Would I rather have an album of new material? Of course I would, particularly given the still-unresolved case of guitarist Alex Lifeson, who is facing very serious criminal charges over a New Year’s Eve fracas in Florida.

But for now, oh man, it’s fun, and the band deserves extra credit for getting a new record out, even a covers record, in the midst of their 30th-anniversary tour. Way too many ageing “classic” acts are hitting the road these days without bothering to release anything other than warmed-over greatest hits packages (if that).

I can’t wait to see which of these songs makes the live set–and if you’ve seen the tour already, and post a spoiler in the comments, I will personally… well, I’ll be very upset. Let’s leave it at that.

NOTE: According to the band members (and assuming Lifeson stays out of jail), Rush is set to start work on an album of new material after this fall’s European tour.

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Required Reading

June 29th, 2004 - 8:13 am

Just click already.

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The Quagmire Deepens

June 29th, 2004 - 5:24 am

The Boston Herald today on John Kerry’s Monday kowtow to the local unions, refusing to cross an “informational” picket line and cancelling an address to the US Conference of Mayors:

Every mayor, every governor, every politician who has ever served as a chief executive knows that it requires guts and determination to face down powerful interests. It’s why for nearly three decades voters have chosen for the presidency men with executive branch experience.

This is far more than one cowardly act in the face of union pickets on Kerry’s part. This is a clear indication of the kind of president John Kerry would be – one who would do anything, pay any price to avoid a conflict.

We just spent a week remembering and celebrating Ronald Reagan for being a stand-up guy – whether he was standing up to the air traffic controllers’ union or to the leaders of the old Soviet Union. That’s what Americans expect of their leaders.

So the question today is, if John Kerry won’t stand up to the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, who will he stand up to?

There’s more here.

UPDATE: Looks like there was more to Kerry’s union sop than first met the eye. He (or I suspect, the former Kennedy staffers in his organization) apparently cut a deal to prevent picketing of the Democratic Convention next month. Kerry’s end of the bargain was publicly stiffing the mayors yesterday.

Interesting development. I wonder if it’ll impact the willingness of the Democratic mayors to put their own political machines to work for Kerry in November?

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June 28th, 2004 - 9:29 pm

Here’s to hoping Will can keep posting this week — it’s gonna be another (and hopefully the last) long one.

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Jonah Goldberg says Michael Moore is a porno producer at heart. Jonah has a point, but that’s a mental image I really didn’t need…

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Can You Get A Bachelor’s In Terrorism?

June 28th, 2004 - 7:06 am

Roger L. Simon has a good take on the early handover of power, and the media’s insistence on describing murderous thugs as “insurgents”:

I think the use of the term “insurgents” by the media inaccurate and propagandistic in its essence. As far as I know… and correct me if I’m wrong… there has not been one single of these people being anything but fascists, either of the Baathist or Islamist variety. Calling them “insurgents” then cloaks them in the romantic veneer of “freedom fighters.” We shall see whether the media continues with this obfuscation after the handover. (If there were neo-Nazis attacking the governments of Europe, would they call them “insurgents”? I think not.)

Reminds me of the 1970′s and ’80′s, when right-wing thugs were invariably described as “death squads” by the press, while left-wing or Islamic thugs were always “militants” or “rebels” or (in Iran) “students.”

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June 28th, 2004 - 6:58 am

A Kerry volunteer trotted up James Lileks’ new front steps over the weekend. The resulting conversation was priceless (it’s at the end of today’s Bleat).

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June 25th, 2004 - 11:33 am

What was the most positive legacy of the Clinton Administration?

You could make a solid argument for having introduced Arkansas Democrat-Gazette editor Paul Greenberg to a national audience–although Bill Clinton himself would doubtless consider this a dubious achievement. In addition to being an acute observer with an eye for the telling (or damning) detail, Greenberg’s prose goes down like an exquisite Key Lime Pie–smooth and sharp, all at once.

Like most of his columns, today’s edition is a gem.

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June 25th, 2004 - 9:54 am

The electrician cut a channel in the foundation of the house, to run power into the wet bar island.

As you can imagine, there is now a fine (and in some places, quite thick) coating of cement dust on everything we own.

No blogging today.

CORRECTION: No blogging from me today. Will seems to be on a roll.

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That’s TSgt. Stryker To You, Maggot!

June 25th, 2004 - 8:45 am

Stryker made Tech. Go add your congrats in his comments.

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Reason Number 15,586 To Own A Mac

June 25th, 2004 - 7:40 am

From CNet News, a very nasty new twist for users of Windows:

Security researchers warned Web surfers on Thursday to be on guard after uncovering evidence that widespread Web server compromises have turned corporate home pages into points of digital infection.

The researchers believe that online organized crime groups are breaking into Web servers and surreptitiously inserting code that takes advantage of two flaws in Internet Explorer that Microsoft has not yet fixed. Those flaws allow the Web server to install a program that takes control of the user’s computer.

[T]he flaws affect every user of Internet Explorer, because Microsoft has not yet released a patch. Moreover, the infectious Web sites are not just those of minor companies inhabiting the backwaters of the Web, but major companies, including some banks, said Brent Houlahan, chief technology officer of NetSec.

“There’s a pretty wide variety,” he said. “There are auction sites, price comparison sites and financial institutions.”

The group also pointed out that the malicious program uploaded to a victim’s computer is not currently detected as a virus by most antivirus software. With no patch from Microsoft, that leaves Internet Explorer users vulnerable. A representative of the software giant was not immediately available for comment on when a patch might be available.

Researchers believe that attackers seed the Web sites with malicious code by breaking into unsecured servers or by using a previously unknown vulnerability in Microsoft’s Web software, Internet Information Server (IIS). When a victim browses the site, the code redirects them to one of two sites, most often to another server in Russia. That server uses the pair of Microsoft Internet Explorer vulnerabilities to upload and execute a remote access Trojan horse, RAT, to the victim’s PC. The software records the victim’s keystrokes and opens a back door in the system’s security to allow the attacker to access the computer.

It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if this is one of the reasons why I had to completely reformat my wife’s Dell last night. After we got married and I hooked it into my broadband network, the piece of junk just exploded with adware and malware that had been sitting dormant, waiting for a fast connection. No combination of updates, blockers, cleaners, or virus software could save it; in less than 90 days, it was completely unusable.

I’m loading up Firefox for her tonight, and very strongly suggesting that she never launch IE again (even if she does have to think in Russian).

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Old Times There

June 25th, 2004 - 5:21 am

Facinating first-person account here by John Patterson, a former Attorney General of Alabama who took over that position after his father’s murder in 1954. Patterson’s father Albert had been elected AG in a tight race, only to be assassinated by corrupt Phenix City police officers before he could take office.

I was born and raised in south Alabama, and while you don’t see political murders there these days (at least as not far as I know), corruption in state and local government is still very much a reality. The primary and run-off elections Patterson refers to were in the Democratic Party. For over 100 years in Alabama, general elections at the state level were mere formalities. Until 1986, when an internal Democratic power struggle resulted in the improbable election of Republican Governor Guy Hunt, winning the Democratic primary was effectively the same thing as being elected to an office.

As you might imagine, this kind of one-party domination did not tend to encourage “clean” government. While the Republicans have made extraordinary gains statewide over the last 20 years, the old corrupt Democrat machine still dominates the state Legislature.

UPDATE: Corruption, particularly from a long-dominant political party, isn’t exactly unknown in my current home state of Georgia, either. Grab an anonymous login and password at BugMeNot, if you need one.

UPDATE II: As James Joiner reminds me, John Patterson is also a former governor of Alabama. Unfortunately, his record in running for and holding that office was considerably more checkered than his reminiscence above would indicate. Patterson was the man whose virulently racist 1958 campaign for governor led George Wallace to declare that he’d never be “out-segged” again. For once, Wallace was as good as his word, riding “segregation forever” to a victory over Patterson four years later.

Speaking of Wallace, I wrote a column about him shortly after his death in 1998. Here’s a link.

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How to Save the NHL

June 24th, 2004 - 12:05 pm

Here’s a start.

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June 24th, 2004 - 10:19 am

Shocking torture photos from Guantanamo Bay.

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Islamic Nihilism II

June 24th, 2004 - 9:23 am

Here we go again:

Fighting raged in at least five cities in Iraq today as suspected Sunni Muslim insurgents launched coordinated attacks that killed about 70 people and wounded hundreds.

American and Iraqi officials said the attacks

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Required Reading

June 23rd, 2004 - 10:11 pm

Operation Tiger Claw.

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Now We’re Cooking With Gas

June 23rd, 2004 - 2:23 pm

OK, so we don’t have drywall back in place. We don’t have a backsplash. Or toekicks. Or the crown moulding or the fancy new Lutron dimmers or the under-the-cabinet lights or even the drawer pulls.

We do, however, have a useable kitchen again.

And that means I might just be able to do some real blogging this week — or at least what’s left of it.

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Hard News

June 22nd, 2004 - 10:32 pm

The latest political story parody from The Onion:

Trying to erase the image of her husband as aloof, Teresa Heinz Kerry yesterday insisted Sen. John F. Kerry [related, bio] “likes people” and went so far as to say he would make a great nursery school teacher.

“He actually does feel at ease in the world,” Heinz Kerry said.

“He likes people, in spite of whatever people might think. He’d make the best nursery school teacher in the world, bar none.”

I’m kidding, of course — that excerpt is from a “legit” Boston Herald story.

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Excuse the Mess

June 22nd, 2004 - 8:48 am

We’re not there yet. . .

. . .but we’re getting close.

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