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Monthly Archives: January 2005

The Dark Side At Bay

January 31st, 2005 - 6:50 pm

From elsewhere in the Axis of Evil, check out this facinating Sunday Times (UK) piece by Michael Sheridan. It’s a first-hand look inside crumbling North Korea, and deserves more play than it’s getting. One of the unexpected (at least to me) details suggests the North may have caught what the Chi-Coms call “The Polish Disease”:

Word has spread like wildfire of the Christian underground that helps fugitives to reach South Korea. People who lived in silent fear now dare to speak about escape. The regime has almost given up trying to stop them going, although it can savagely punish those caught and sent back.

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Ignorance Is Bliss

January 31st, 2005 - 2:59 pm

Scott Maffett sent me this story:

BEIJING (Reuters) – The French used grapes, Russians fermented potatoes, Koreans put ginseng in their drink and Mexicans distilled cactus plants to make fiery tequila.

Now China is introducing fish wine.

That’s as far as I could read.

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“. . .nothing whatsoever in common.”

January 31st, 2005 - 2:58 pm

Hitch explains why Iraq isn’t Vietnam.

Then again, you knew that already.

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Roger L. Simon has the most embarassing scoop on the MSM’s performance in Iraq yesterday.

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Better Than the Original!

January 31st, 2005 - 11:03 am


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January 31st, 2005 - 10:30 am

Tomorrow night, Andy (of the World Wide Rant) and I will perform an exciting, bold, and daring new experiment in blogging.

Sure, you’ve seen liveblogging of big speeches. Yeah, readers here already know about drunkblogging. Thanks to the Professor, blogging from various locations around town is nothing new. And since the early days of Samizdata and Sgt. Stryker, group-blogging is old hat.

But have you ever combined them all? Have you? Huh?

Well, we will.

From a not-so-secret location (a bar with a TV and Wi-Fi) to be announced later, Andy, myself and maybe a couple other Colorado bloggers will get drunk and liveblog the President’s State of the Union Address.

Never underestimate the power of a laptop, good friends, and a few pitchers of really good beer.

CORRECTION: Oops. Tomorrow is not Wednesday, no matter how many times I tell myself today “feels like” Tuesday.

On the other hand, give Andy and me enough beer, and we could probably drunkblog the 2008 debates no later than this coming August.

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January 31st, 2005 - 12:03 am

Because I live on the Front Range and I have a camera, that’s why.

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. . .*But were afraid to ask Ted Kennedy.

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Tom Clancy Smirk-Fest

January 30th, 2005 - 11:52 pm

More trouble for the Eurofighter – it hardly flies, much less fights:

THE seriously delayed and massively over budget Eurofighter Typhoon is so unreliable it is barely airborne, according to the German government, which has just taken delivery of a squadron of the

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When Bloggers Talk…

January 30th, 2005 - 11:48 pm

John Hawkins held a blogger symposium with Hugh Hewitt, La Shawn Barber, and Karol Sheinen.

Good stuff.

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Required Reading

January 30th, 2005 - 11:42 pm

Jackson Diehl, on keeping Bush honest.

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Money Money Money

January 30th, 2005 - 11:20 pm

The oil markets seem happy with yesterday’s Iraqi election:

Jan. 31 (Bloomberg) — Crude oil futures fell, extending last week’s 2.8 percent decline, after insurgents failed to sabotage the Iraqi election, easing concern they may attack export facilities in the Middle East’s fifth-largest producer.

OPEC may raise output in the second quarter, President Sheikh Ahmad Fahd al-Ahmad al-Sabah said yesterday after the group agreed to leave production targets unchanged. In Iraq, “current indications” are that the election was a success and that “augurs well for the transition process,” United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, according to the UN Web site.

“There’s room for oil to go down a bit further,” Randy Simpson, vice-president of supply and trading at New West Petroleum Inc. in Sacramento, California, said before the start of trading. “The general consensus was that things were going to go to plan in Iraq, or at least with a bit less mayhem.”

It’ll be interseting to see what (if any) reaction the US equities markets have tomorrow.

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Straight Reporting

January 30th, 2005 - 10:53 pm

Also in today’s NYT:

AMMAN, Jordan, Jan. 30 – Sometime after the first insurgent attack in Iraq on Sunday morning, news directors at Arab satellite channels and newspaper editors found themselves facing an altogether new decision. Should they report on the violence, or continue to cover the elections themselves?

After nearly two years of providing up-to-the-minute images of explosions and mayhem, and despite months of predictions of a blood bath on election day, some news directors said they found the decision surprisingly easy to make. The violence simply was not the story on Sunday morning; the voting was.

Well, give the Arab press this much credit: They know the difference between a dog-bites-man and a man-bites-dog story.

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Bored Now

January 30th, 2005 - 10:43 pm

When the first-ever free & fair election in the entire Arab world was held yesterday in Iraq, Bob Herbert bitches that the process wasn’t perfect:

And we should keep in mind that despite the feelings of pride and accomplishment experienced by so many of the voters, yesterday’s election was hardly a textbook example of democracy in action. A real democracy requires an informed electorate. What we saw yesterday was an uncommonly brave electorate. But it was woefully uninformed.

Maybe they’ve been reading too much of the NYT.

OK, OK — that was a cheap shot. I don’t want to sound too much like Professor Pangloss here, but we should really marvel that the bear here can waltz at all, instead of pointing out his lack of rhythm. So, really, maybe all Herbert and I differ on is what’s the most important thing today.

Then I read a little further down:

The desire of the U.S., as embodied by the Bush administration, is to exercise as much control as possible over the Middle East and its crucial oil reserves.

That’s right: One free election (and $50-plus-a-barrel for oil) later, and Herbert’s still claiming “it’s all about the OOOOOOIIIIIIILLLLL!”

Listen, bub. I know what “all about the oil” would look like, and it’s so ugly, it makes Fallujah look like Farrah Fawcett, back before she had all that work done to her face. “All about the oil” looks like Riyadh, Baghdad and Caracas (yes, Caracas) leveled by city-buster nukes. “All about the oil” looks like the Marines keeping the locals at gunpoint while they pump crude into US-(forcibily re-)flagged tankers. “All about the oil” looks like, well, a lot like European colonializtion in the 18th Century, updated with modern weapons: Go in, take what you want, and fuck the locals.

“All about the oil” doesn’t look like:

Sticking around in oil-free Afghanistan, to secure the peace.

Promising free elections in Iraq.

Delivering on said promise.

Publicly stating that we’ll leave when asked.

Oh, and — paying for the damn oil. With American dollars and American blood, I might add.

UPDATE: Orignally, I forgot to include a link to Herbert’s column. That’s been fixed — and thanks for the heads-up, Steven.

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Reporting from Baghdad, Times (of London) reporters James Hider and Ali Al-Hamdani lead with:

While Shiite areas of Iraq

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The Difference

January 29th, 2005 - 4:04 pm

Glenn asks,

The question is, will the Democrats be willing to do to Ted Kennedy, for his remarks on the war, what Republicans did to Trent Lott, for his remarks on Strom Thurmond and the 1948 election?

The answer: absolutely not, because unlike in Lott’s case, the majority of the party, and the overwhelming majority of the activists and donors agree with Kennedy completely. They also have the added benefit of knowing the MSM will never call Kennedy to account for anything he says.

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January 29th, 2005 - 9:08 am

Forget about what Sherman did to the place; as for today, Atlanta, she is frozen.

The bad weather started a little after noon yesterday, a steady patter of sleet that lasted for hours, but didn’t accumulate. That turned into rain around midnight, even as the temperature was dropping. A slushy mix kept falling until around dawn. This is the result, at least around our house:




The atmosphere outside is nothing short of eerie. No traffic sounds at all, but when the wind blows, you hear the crackling of ice on the tree branches around you. It sounds like an army of squirrels nibbling away on ten thousand acorns.

Things could certainly be worse. Unlike previous ice storms, we haven’t lost power, and although my cable modem’s lifeline looks precarious:


… it hasn’t failed yet. There are certainly lots of people in worse straits than we are today. Still, the roads, including street we live on, are sheets of ice, and I really, really needed to get over to Alabama today. That’s not going to happen, unless there’s a miraculous thaw. I’d be lucky to make it to the grocery store right now (fortunately, we stocked up already).

We’re not expected to get above freezing until sometime Sunday, and the precipitation forecast for today and tonight ranges between 80 and 100 percent. And what the heck, the dog seems to enjoy it:

bob ice.jpg

UPDATE: 6PM Eastern. Very steady rain now, and the temperature is dropping. We didn’t try to drive anywhere today, and watching two idiots slipping and sliding their cars up the hill going out of the neighborhood was proof we’d made the right choice (by some miracle, they didn’t hit each other, but both wound up sliding into somebody’s yard).

This is going to be a rough night, much moreso than last night. You can hear branches popping all over, and our power went out for the first time about a half hour ago. It came back in about five minutes, but I don’t expect that to last. Fortunately, tomorrow is supposed to be much warmer, but there are going to be some dark, cold, icy hours between now and then.

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January 27th, 2005 - 12:19 am

I have two favorite quotes for January 27, 2005. Here’s the first one:

[Larry Sumners] thought he was speaking in a place that encourages uncircumscribed intellectual explorations. He was not. He was on a university campus.


And this bit, too:

MIT biology professor Nancy Hopkins. . . “felt I was going to be sick. My heart was pounding and my breath was shallow.” And, “I just couldn’t breathe because this kind of bias makes me physically ill.” She said that if she had not bolted from the room, “I would’ve either blacked out or thrown up.”

Is this the fruit of feminism? A woman at the peak of the academic pyramid becomes theatrically flurried by an unwelcome idea and, like a Victorian maiden exposed to male coarseness, suffers the vapors and collapses on the drawing room carpet in a heap of crinolines until revived by smelling salts and the offending brute’s contrition?

Both snippets are from the same George Will column.

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January 27th, 2005 - 12:14 am

It’s been said that every little tiny new bit of human thought since about 1996 has been reproduced on the internet. Obviously, that’s an overstatement.

Until maybe now:

Those folks at Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) just keep churning out new applications. Yesterday it was Google Video, which allows users to search the Internet for content of a number of television shows by using the show’s closed-captioning information. “What Google did for the Web,” Google founder Larry Page said in a press release, “Google Video aims to do for television.”

To say that this service is in beta mode might be an understatement — even for the company with the understated, plain-white-background home page. For the moment, the number of TV providers the company currently indexes is limited — PBS, the NBA, Fox (NYSE: FOX) News, and C-SPAN got top billing in the press release. And Google has been indexing TV data since only last month. (Meanwhile, Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) has added a search to its front page that lets you search and inspect video clips.)

But the possibilities for Google are nonetheless impressive. Among the highlights the company listed: program previews using still images, information about upcoming airings, and keyword searches within specific programs. This all has the potential to be of great interest to paying broadcasters who are looking for new ways to raise awareness of their programming.

If everything on TV from Meet the Press to Queer Eye will soon be Google-able, it won’t be long until everything, period, is on some search engine somewhere.

Frankly, I don’t know whether to be shaken or excited or both.

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Perfume for the Ages

January 27th, 2005 - 12:05 am

Apparently, it’s time to define MILF down.

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Required Reading

January 27th, 2005 - 12:02 am

Could an “Orange”-style revolution be in Russia’s future?

NOTE: Now would be a good time for a mea culpa moment – one I’ve been putting off for months. Read this giddy post from 2002, and you’ll understand.

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January 26th, 2005 - 11:23 pm

A throwaway line from a post on Monday left me with that I Love Lucy feeling. You know: “Lucy, you gots some ‘splaining to do.”

So I’m working on a little column about money. Problem is, it might be TCS material, rather than VP material. I’ll talk with Nick Schulz tomorrow and see what he thinks.

Meantime, the site is experiencing some serious trouble. Don’t know if it’s another DDoS attack on HostMatters, or just something local on my end. In any case, I was lucky just to get posted this sad little excuse for something interesting.

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January 25th, 2005 - 9:49 pm

You can chalk me up as another victim of John Scalzi‘s Old Man’s War. The book arrived this afternoon, and I’ve hardly put it down.

Don’t think I will until I’ve finished, either.

UPDATE: Damn, that was good. Now I’ve got a doctor’s appointment this morning — back in a bit.

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January 24th, 2005 - 11:34 pm

Stem cells ain’t what they used to be. Not the Federally-approved ones, that is:

A new study released by scientists at the University of California – San Diego says all of the existing federally funded stem cell lines are contaminated, but UW researchers say this is no surprise. According to Terry Devitt, UW director of research and communications, the human embryonic stem cells are grown in a culture that includes animal cells. He says the presence of animal cells compromises the use of these stem cell lines in treating humans, but these cell lines were developed for research, never intended for use in humans.

”It’s always been known that new lines would need to be derived and grown in the absence of animal cells for those to be useful in the clinic.” Devitt says.

The good news (for once) is, Leon Kass might actually understand the problem, and be open to certain avenues of advancement.

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Uh. . .

January 24th, 2005 - 11:11 pm

Stephen Bainbridge has a few questions for the Washington Post’s Barton Gellman:

Did the Pentagon intend to disclose this program or did only to do so in response to Gellman’s investigation? If the latter, why isn’t his conduct basically treasonous? Did he put personal self-interest as a journalist ahead of the national security? If operatives are killed or missions blown as a result of this story, will Gellman feel any remorse? If the countries named in his story as targets of the missions pull out of the war on terror, will Gellman accept any responsibility for the resulting harm to our national security?

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Required Reading

January 24th, 2005 - 10:37 pm

Today’s Required Reading is Paul Krugman. Yes, Paul Krugman:

Alan Greenspan is expected to retire next year. The Bush administration, because of its nature, will have a hard time finding a successor.

One Fed chairman famously described his job as being to “take away the punch bowl just when the party gets going.” Bond and currency markets want monetary policy in the hands of someone who will say no to politicians. When a country’s central banker is suspected of having insufficient spine, the result is higher interest rates and a weaker currency.

Today it’s even more crucial than usual that the Fed chairman have the markets’ trust. The United States is running record budget and trade deficits, and the foreigners we depend on to cover those deficits are losing faith. According to yesterday’s Financial Times, central banks around the world have already started shifting into euros. If Mr. Greenspan is replaced with someone who looks like a partisan hack, capital will rush to the exits, the dollar will plunge, and interest rates will soar.

Forget the partisan sniping about Bush’s personality, and ask yourself: Who replaces Greenspan?

Fact of the matter is, thanks to this spendthrift Republican Congress (and its non-veto-pen-wielding Enabler-in-Chief in the Oval Office), Bush might just be painted into a corner. He’ll need a Fed Chairman who will publicly back his spending policies

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Smart Move

January 24th, 2005 - 9:28 pm

Did Hillary Clinton have her first Sister Souljah Moment in preparation for Decision ’08? According to Drudge, it sure looks that way:

Proposing new political language about abortion rights for an increasingly skittish Democratic Party, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday that friends and foes on the issue should come together on “common ground” to reduce the number of “unwanted pregnancies” and ultimately abortions, which she called a “sad, even tragic choice to many, many women.”

Clinton, in a speech to about 1,000 abortion rights supporters at the state Capitol, firmly restated her support for Roe v. Wade.

But then she offered warm words to opponents of abortion and said that faith and organized religion were the “primary” reasons teenagers abstained from sexual relations.

The New York Times has the full story.

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January 23rd, 2005 - 10:22 pm

Melissa has been out of town all weekend, visiting her best friend in Mississippi. I’ve busied myself with odd jobs around the house — followed by dinner, drinks, and poker over at the in-laws.

In other words: I’m beat. See you Monday.

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Are You Listening, Steve Jobs?

January 23rd, 2005 - 12:05 pm

Practically since the moment the Mac Mini was announced, the online Macintosh communities have been ablaze with commentary from people who’d like to use one of these suckers as a DVR and A/V hub. From DealMac to AVSForum to PVRBlog, there’s a sizeable cohort of tech-savvy folks who look at the Mini-Mac and say, “That belongs right next to my friggin’ huge HDTV.”

Unfortunatley for all those folks (myself included), the Mini just isn’t built for that task. The hard drive is too small and too slow (it’s just a 4200 rpm laptop drive), and the video card and G4 processor don’t have the horsepower to play back HD video. The current models of Minis are designed to be either second computers for Mac owners, or first Macs for Windows users who’re fed up with Microsoft and want to see how the other side lives.

But. That’s just the first model. Who’s to say there won’t be an A/V Mini coming down the pipe from Cupertino in the future? Noted tech historian Bob Cringely (real name Mark Stephens, who was briefly one of Apple’s first employees) thinks Steve Jobs is working a deal with Sony to make a set-top Macintosh that’ll act as a video server for downloaded movies.

Personally, I think that’s a neat idea, but what I’d really like to have is an affordable Mac that can act as a high-definition ReplayTV–and that’s ReplayTV, not Tivo, folks. Tivo imposes way too many MPAA-demanded limitations on content for my tastes. I want a box that will schedule, record and play back HD programs, and will also allow me to edit and permanently record that content to removable media, preferably some form of DVD. I can do all that now for standard definition with my Replays and my 2001-era G4 Mac tower, thanks to DVArchive software.

It’s theoretically possible to do all of the above in HD with a G4-class Mac and ElGato’s EyeTV 500 Firewire box–but only in theory. The ElGato box is designed to need a dual-processor G5 Mac for full HD playback, and that’s a dang sight more powerful, expensive, and bulky a computer than the new Mini-Mac. It’s alleged that one could overcome the Mini’s lack of juice by playing back HD video through a set-top HD converter box with a Firewire port, but I haven’t found an example of anybody who’s actually done this, and even if I did, I suspect the process is too ungainly for casual use (i.e., my wife would hate it).

Still, if all the EyeTV 500 box needs is the processing power of a set-top box, what’s to keep ElGato from building that in to a prospective EyeTV 600, plus a heftier hard drive? I don’t think we can count on Apple to produce an HD-PVR-ready Mac anytime soon; after all, Jobs himself is the CEO of a major (and very successful) movie studio, Pixar. He’s not going to cross his fellow moguls with a pre-broadcast-flag HD PVR system… but I wouldn’t be if a future video-hub Mini does arrive with some kind of DRM built in, a la the iTunes music store.

Until then, though, Apple’s best customers are shouting about what they’d love to be able to buy from the company. If Jobs isn’t listening, somebody else almost certainly is. Stay tuned.

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January 23rd, 2005 - 11:57 am

NBC is reporting that Johnny Carson has died.

I really feel sorry for people who weren’t old enough to see and appreciate Carson while he was still on the air. He was just So. Damn. Good. His successors, on every network, are decidedly pale reflections, and I doubt any of them would seriously argue that Carson was head and shoulders above anybody else who’s ever hosted a talk show, anywhere. His blend of great good humor, high taste, low comedy, and refusal to condescend to anybody, regardless of who they were or where they came from, almost certainly can’t be duplicated in today’s mass media.

Now he’ll be missed even more. RIP.

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