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Monthly Archives: April 2005


April 27th, 2005 - 5:30 pm

Just got in from doing a little work at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. While I was at the base, the First Fighter Wing did a “Heritage Flight.” A Heritage Flight features several airplanes from a Wing or Squadron’s history flying together for photographers and/or spectators.

In this case, I was treated to the greatest fighters from the first and second halves of the Twentieth Century flying in close formation with the reigning greatest fighter of the Twenty-First Century. Cool stuff.

If you missed it, they’ll do the same flight again at the Langley Air Show in a few weeks. Catch ‘em if you can.

UPDATE: Don’t say I never post anything cool for you guys:

flyby (2).jpg

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April 25th, 2005 - 3:20 pm

The redoubtable Lileks had a run-in with a BestBuy drone over the weekend:

At the checkout counter the clerk asked for my phone number.

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Big Daddy Like Podcast

April 24th, 2005 - 4:44 pm

Dash Rip Rock, the greatest bar band that never quite made the big time, has joined the hordes of podcasters with a recurring show hosted by founder Bill Davis. A feast for Dash-o-philes and a treat for just about anybody who likes music, it’s chock full of demos, rarities and live tracks, as well as comments and stories from Bill and a sampling of his faves from other artists. Check it out, it’s Dash-tastic.

Speaking of Dash fans, if anybody out there can hook me up with a copy of “Ned, Fred and Dickhead,” the live disc Bill mentions in podcast #1 (which features a killer version of “Operator” from that CD, recorded by the original Dash lineup in 1986), or even just tell me where I can buy a copy, you will get a Genuine Certified Thing. Drop me a line if you know where I can get that one.

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The Needle Is Way Too Good For Him

April 23rd, 2005 - 7:43 am

Zacarias Moussaoui pleaded guilty Friday to conspiring with the Sept. 11 attackers and declared he was chosen by Osama bin Laden to fly an airliner into the White House in a separate assault.

Over the objection of his lawyers, Moussaoui calmly admitted his guilt in a courtroom a few miles from where one of the hijacked planes crashed into the Pentagon in 2001, setting up a showdown with prosecutors who quickly reaffirmed they will seek Moussaoui’s execution.

“I will fight every inch against the death penalty,” Moussaoui told U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema as he became the only person convicted in a U.S. court in connection with the Sept. 11 plot that killed nearly 3,000 people.

The unshackled Moussaoui, wearing a beard and green prison jumpsuit, told the judge he had not been promised a lighter sentence for his guilty pleas. Then he added, “I don’t expect any leniency from the Americans.”

Nor should you, you murderous son of a bitch.


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Coalition Of The Bribed

April 22nd, 2005 - 11:42 am


The Canadian company that Saddam Hussein invested a million dollars in belonged to the Prime Minister of Canada, canadafreepress.com has discovered.

Cordex Petroleum Inc., launched with Saddam

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Oh, That Liberal Media

April 22nd, 2005 - 9:41 am

The first time I read this New York Sun story, I almost figured it was a put-on. I mean, it’s got ‘punchline’ written all over it: Ted Kennedy’s brother-in-law pleads guilty to political corruption related to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, it’s revealed that he’s been a secret informant to the FBI for years, and oh, by the way, he’s also under investigation for trying to lure young girls into his car using a fake police light. But it’s not a joke–it’s a real story.

And what a story! It’s got corruption, Kennedys, secret informants, Clintons, even weird sexual allegations. You’d think it would be the lead headline from coast to coast.

But funny thing–you can’t find it much of anywhere. It’s nowhere to be seen at CNN.com, even on the Politics page. It’s not on the front of the New York Times website, and the only mention within the site is a canned AP story.

Gee, I thought the Times was supposed to be the ‘newspaper of record,’ with the best reporters in the world–they couldn’t even spare one of them to cover a story involving the Democratic Party’s two most prominent elected officials, Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton?

The Washington Post, allegedly the Times’ biggest competitor for political news, doesn’t mention the story at all. A search for “Raymond Reggie” at WaPo gets no relevant hits.

Golly, I wonder why not.

But have no fear, I’m sure Steve Lovelady and the Columbia Journalism review are on top of things, and will weigh in with a scathing Corey Pein condemnation in no time.

Of course, it’ll be a condemnation of the Sun for daring to print the Reggie story in the first place…

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PR and the MSM

April 21st, 2005 - 5:37 pm

Very interesting piece on here by Paul Graham, who was around in the early days of web start-ups. It’s about how public-relations firms inject memes into the mainstream media for their clinets. In Graham’s words,

PR is not dishonest. Not quite. In fact, the reason the best PR firms are so effective is precisely that they aren’t dishonest. They give reporters genuinely valuable information. A good PR firm won’t bug reporters just because the client tells them to; they’ve worked hard to build their credibility with reporters, and they don’t want to destroy it by feeding them mere propaganda.

If anyone is dishonest, it’s the reporters. The main reason PR firms exist is that reporters are lazy. Or, to put it more nicely, overworked. Really they ought to be out there digging up stories for themselves. But it’s so tempting to sit in their offices and let PR firms bring the stories to them. After all, they know good PR firms won’t lie to them.

Further down, Graham notes that the standard PR methods aren’t working so well with one particular manifestation of new media:

Remember the exercises in critical reading you did in school, where you had to look at a piece of writing and step back and ask whether the author was telling the whole truth? If you really want to be a critical reader, it turns out you have to step back one step further, and ask not just whether the author is telling the truth, but why he’s writing about this subject at all.

Online, the answer tends to be a lot simpler. Most people who publish online write what they write for the simple reason that they want to. You can’t see the fingerprints of PR firms all over the articles, as you can in so many print publications– which is one of the reasons, though they may not consciously realize it, that readers trust bloggers more than Business Week.

I was talking recently to a friend who works for a big newspaper. He thought the print media were in serious trouble, and that they were still mostly in denial about it. “They think the decline is cyclic,” he said. “Actually it’s structural.”

In other words, the readers are leaving, and they’re not coming back.

Why? I think the main reason is that the writing online is more honest. Imagine how incongruous the New York Times article about suits would sound if you read it in a blog:

The urge to look corporate– sleek, commanding, prudent, yet with just a touch of hubris on your well-cut sleeve– is an unexpected development in a time of business disgrace.

The problem with this article is not just that it originated in a PR firm. The whole tone is bogus. This is the tone of someone writing down to their audience.

Whatever its flaws, the writing you find online is authentic. It’s not mystery meat cooked up out of scraps of pitch letters and press releases, and pressed into molds of zippy journalese. It’s people writing what they think.

Good stuff. Check out the rest, and have a look at Graham’s archives while you’re at it.

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April 18th, 2005 - 8:06 pm

One of the greatest athletes ever is set to retire:

Lance Armstrong, the Texan who became the lone star of cycling’s biggest race, will end his improbable ride from death’s door to cloud nine after a final three-week journey around France.

With emotion in his voice, Armstrong said Monday that the 2005 Tour de France from July 2 to July 24 would be his final race as a professional cyclist, win or lose.

Go out winning, Lance.

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Uh Oh

April 17th, 2005 - 11:01 pm

Got my taxes off like a good little sheep hours before the midnight deadline on Friday. There was a think wad of papers in that envolope, so I added a second stamp just to be safe.

We had a dinner party on Saturday (Cuban night – we ate really, really well), so I forgot to check the mail. Sunday, I remembered. What was in with the usual assortment of catalogs and mortgage re-fi offers? That’s right: My federal tax return, with a notice that I owed nine cents postage. Added another stamp, and stuck it in with Monday’s mail.

I’m not gonna get in trouble for that, am I?

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Unintentional Elton John Reference to Follow

April 17th, 2005 - 10:58 pm

The Bleat is back.

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April 17th, 2005 - 10:51 pm

Doctors are more dangerous than gun owners.

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New Blogs/Required Reading

April 17th, 2005 - 10:35 pm

The National Guard Experience.

Read and scroll, kids. Just read and scroll.

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China’s Jews

April 17th, 2005 - 10:26 pm

It’s too late for me to look up the reference, but I’ll give it to you the way I remember it.

In the run-up to WWII, some uppity-up in Japan’s Imperial Government got word from the ambassador in Berlin about how Hitler was scapegoating the Jews for, well, damn near everyandanything. His comment: “If only Japan had Jews!”

That came to mind reading about the recent protests in China:

Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing refused Sunday to apologize or pay compensation to Japan for violent anti-Japanese demonstrations in which demonstrators smashed windows of Japanese diplomatic and business establishments in China.

How do you say Kristallnacht in Chinese?

Granted, the Kristallnacht reference is hyperbole; Beijing isn’t about to round up the local Japanese and corral them into concentration camps. But the tune still sounds eerily familiar.

Germany had Jews, who it was claimed, secretly controlled money and production. In today’s China, the Japanese play a similar role. German Jews somehow stabbed Berlin in the back, and caused them to lose WWI. China blames Japan for not completely owning up to atrocities committed in another war. Hitler wanted Poland for historical reasons, and as a springboard to greater conquests in the East. China covets Taiwan for historical reasons, and perhaps as a springboard to greater conquests in the South.

I don’t mean to imply that China is about to get the world into another global conflict. But Beijing seems to have at least – or at last? – found its Jews.

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Short Ramble

April 17th, 2005 - 10:05 pm

Fascinating conjecture from The Belmont Club, which, thanks to an Instalanche you’ve probably already read. But in case you missed it, here’s a key bit:

But if the EU is a really an attempt to turn the continent into a French colony it has once again run into Paul Johnson’s observation that a “colony is lost once the level of settlement in exceeded by the growth rate of the indigenous peoples” except now it is in the context of Eastern European entrants. At the heart of French electoral resistance to the EU Constitution is an unwillingness to accept the free-market policies that non-French members want.

Europe if not now then soon must accept that enlargement by itself can never fully compensate for the fundamental weakness of its demographics and economy. Even a ship as large as the Titanic eventually fills with water. French EU Foreign Minister Michel Barnier could not have spoken more eloquently of the dead-end French policy had become when he said the EU had no contingency plan in the event of a rejection. “We have no plan B. You cannot have a plan B. It is ‘Yes’ and that’s the only way to discuss this item, so we go 100 percent for that outcome”. If wishes were horses then beggars would ride.

While I think France has lost her glory, and while I also beleive the EU constitution is a disaster-in-the-making, I don’t wish Europe any ill. I say all that, even if Europe does contantly remind me of General Eisenhower’s quip: “War without allies is bad enough; with allies, it is hell.”

Like them or not, Europe is still a member of this wonderful thing called Western Civilization. We (and they) are better off with a stronger Europe than a weaker one.

And with that said, the more I read of Europe’s troubles, the more I fear a new (and however unlikely) new European War.

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iPod Observations

April 17th, 2005 - 9:27 pm

After six weeks of owning the damn thing, iPod tells me its most-played song is Cheryl Lynn’s “Got To Be Real.”

Some things I just don’t need to know.

UPDATE: In what I think must be an act of contrition, iTunes just decided to play “Go Down Gamblin’” very, very loud.

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Sekimori Is Going To Want A License Fee

April 17th, 2005 - 4:28 pm

Who says the MSM doesn’t take cues from the blogs? Check out Drudge. Looks like Martini Boy may have more than one lawsuit to file…

Hat-tip to prolific Vodkacommentor Chuck(le) Pelto.

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Working The Problem

April 17th, 2005 - 3:59 pm

Via Slashdot, here’s a wonderful article about the engineers in Apollo 13 mission control (today is the 35th anniversary of Odyssey’s safe splashdown). Although it’s in an electrical engineering professional journal, the piece is extraordinarily well-written, and should be understandable and enjoyable even if you don’t happen to have a technical background.

There’s way too much good stuff to quote, but here’s a tidbit that I recognized from my own career experience as a flight test engineer:

Confidence was part of the bedrock upon which mission control was built. When prospective controllers joined NASA, often fresh out of college, they started out by being sent to contractors to collect blueprints and documents, which they then digested into information that mission controllers could use during a mission, such as the wiring diagrams the lunar module controllers had used to figure out how to power up the Aquarius. After that, the proto-flight controllers started participating in simulations. The principal problem NASA had with these neophytes was “one of self-confidence,” explains Kranz. “We really worked to develop the confidence of the controllers so they could stand up and make these real-time decisions. Some people, no matter how hard we worked, never developed the confidence necessary for the job.” Those not suited for mission control were generally washed out within a year.

Having spent several years as a young engineer in the telemetry room for live-fire missile tests, I can vouch for that last conclusion. There are some guys (and gals) who are never going to be ready to wear the headset and man “the button.” That’s not their fault, and it’s better for everybody if they’re identified early, so they can move on to a job they’re better suited for.

Anyway, the article is a really great read, chock-full of stuff that didn’t make Ron Howard’s fine movie, or even most of the documentaries since 1970. Check it out.

UPDATE: From an AP story about the engineers who came up with the now-famous square peg/round hole CO2 scrubber fix:

Among the biggest concerns was whether the astronauts had duct tape, Smylie said. He later learned duct tape was commonly used on the spacecraft to clean filters and for other tasks, such as taping bags of food to heating lamps.

“I felt like we were home free,” he said. “One thing a Southern boy will never say is ‘I don’t think duct tape will fix it.’”

Damn right.

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You Can Lead A Columnist To Water…

April 17th, 2005 - 1:16 pm

Sylvester Brown, a columnist in St. Louis, offers up this trite eye-roller to the Blogfaddah, in response to a Reynolds post on US efforts to oust dictatorships in favor of democracies, by force when necessary:

Sorry, bloggers. When it comes to regime change and nation-building, I can’t follow the wisdom of Bush and his crew. I lean more toward the words of a real straight shooter, Mohandas Gandhi:

“The spirit of democracy cannot be imposed from without. It has to come from within.”

Gandhi, of course, is the patron saint of pacifism for the Western Left. What they tend to leave out in quoting the above and other pacifistic platitudes is Gandhi’s extremism, if his philosophies were carried out to their logical conclusions. Concerning the threat of Hitler’s Germany, Gandhi counseled Winston Churchill to surrender peacably, and then pursue a strategy of non-violent resistance.

Now, you do know what happened to everybody who pursued non-violent resistance against the Nazis, don’t you? What do you think the world would look like today, had Churchill and Roosevelt taken that advice?

Gandhi, like Nelson Mandela in South Africa and Martin Luther King, Jr. in this country, had one tremendous advantage in their own quite remarkable efforts–they were opposing governments and/or structures that were, in the end, ameniable to moral persuasion. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Saddam–these were not reasonable men who could be shamed or convinced into stepping down quietly and calling elections. These were barbaric monsters who recognized no higher morality than their own whims. Today’s closest parallel to Gandhi is the Dalai Lama, and all his own pacifism has won for his people in Tibet is fifty years of brutal Chi-Com occupation, with no end in sight.

Brown should know as much, and I suspect he probably does, but between the old leftie blame-America syndrome and simple Bush-hatred, he apparently can’t bring himself to admit the obvious. Rather sad, really.

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A while back, Vermont’s socialist congressman Bernie Sanders went into a frothing rage when Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan credited the United States for having “the highest standard of living in the world” at a congressional hearing.

Sanders responded, quite angrily, “No, we do not. You go to Scandinavia, and you will find that people have a much higher standard of living, in terms of education, health care and decent paying jobs. Wrong, Mister.”

Now, I’m no Nostradamus, but I feel secure in predicting that Bernie isn’t going to get his normal enjoyment out of reading the Sunday New York Times today. The Times (to my surprise and the paper’s credit) ran a really interesting and data-chocked analysis by Bruce Bawer, an American freelancer living in Oslo, Norway, comparing the standards of living for Americans and various Scandinavians. Bawer includes both telling anecdotes from his own experience:

After I moved here six years ago, I quickly noticed that Norwegians live more frugally than Americans do. They hang on to old appliances and furniture that we would throw out. And they drive around in wrecks. In 2003, when my partner and I took his teenage brother to New York – his first trip outside of Europe – he stared boggle-eyed at the cars in the Newark Airport parking lot, as mesmerized as Robin Williams in a New York grocery store in “Moscow on the Hudson.”

One image in particular sticks in my mind. In a Norwegian language class, my teacher illustrated the meaning of the word matpakke – “packed lunch” – by reaching into her backpack and pulling out a hero sandwich wrapped in wax paper. It was her lunch. She held it up for all to see.

Yes, teachers are underpaid everywhere. But in Norway the matpakke is ubiquitous, from classroom to boardroom. In New York, an office worker might pop out at lunchtime to a deli; in Paris, she might enjoy quiche and a glass of wine at a brasserie. In Norway, she will sit at her desk with a sandwich from home.

It is not simply a matter of tradition, or a preference for a basic, nonmaterialistic life. Dining out is just too pricey in a country where teachers, for example, make about $50,000 a year before taxes. Even the humblest of meals – a large pizza delivered from Oslo’s most popular pizza joint – will run from $34 to $48, including delivery fee and a 25 percent value added tax.

Not that groceries are cheap, either. Every weekend, armies of Norwegians drive to Sweden to stock up at supermarkets that are a bargain only by Norwegian standards. And this isn’t a great solution, either, since gasoline (in this oil-exporting nation) costs more than $6 a gallon.

… and a great deal of statistical analysis from several sources:

All this was illuminated last year in a study by a Swedish research organization, Timbro, which compared the gross domestic products of the 15 European Union members (before the 2004 expansion) with those of the 50 American states and the District of Columbia. (Norway, not being a member of the union, was not included.)

After adjusting the figures for the different purchasing powers of the dollar and euro, the only European country whose economic output per person was greater than the United States average was the tiny tax haven of Luxembourg, which ranked third, just behind Delaware and slightly ahead of Connecticut.

The next European country on the list was Ireland, down at 41st place out of 66; Sweden was 14th from the bottom (after Alabama), followed by Oklahoma, and then Britain, France, Finland, Germany and Italy. The bottom three spots on the list went to Spain, Portugal and Greece.

Alternatively, the study found, if the E.U. was treated as a single American state, it would rank fifth from the bottom, topping only Arkansas, Montana, West Virginia and Mississippi.

As a native of Alabama and current resident of Georgia, I must admit that I take no small satisfaction in the last. Continuing:

In short, while Scandinavians are constantly told how much better they have it than Americans, Timbro’s statistics suggest otherwise. So did a paper by a Swedish economics writer, Johan Norberg.

Contrasting “the American dream” with “the European daydream,” Mr. Norberg described the difference: “Economic growth in the last 25 years has been 3 percent per annum in the U.S., compared to 2.2 percent in the E.U. That means that the American economy has almost doubled, whereas the E.U. economy has grown by slightly more than half. The purchasing power in the U.S. is $36,100 per capita, and in the E.U. $26,000 – and the gap is constantly widening.”

Believe it or not, there’s plenty more. Read the whole thing, and try to imagine Sanders’ apoplexy as he was flipping through the Times this morning…

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Frist And Frack

April 16th, 2005 - 9:57 am

This is going to ramble a bit, so bear with me.

There’s quite a bit of blogosphere and MSM turmoil today over the Senate judicial fillibuster controversy. The latest rumblings are thanks to (a) reports that the Republican Senate leadership is getting ready to move on a procedural vote to end fillibusters of judicial nominees, and (b) Republican Senate leader Bill Frist’s decision to associate himself with a televised push by the Family Research Council next week to drum up support for some of the stalled Bush nominees.

Frist first.

I’ve never been particularly impressed with Frist. Seems like a decent fellow, but I don’t get the hoopla. For one thing, he’s not a particularly good politician. He was picked out to replace Trent Lott (whom I have even less use for) because he was seen as a straight-arrow, and that’s all well and good, but I thought he was too inexperienced for the job at the time, and he hasn’t done much since then to convince me otherwise, or that he has the leadership qualities for a really critical position like Majority Leader. I really don’t get the Frist-for-President stuff, for those reasons and others. I don’t think he’d be a competitive candidate, even in the primaries.

And I think he’s making a mistake by associating himself so closely with the Dobson effort. There’s nothing wrong with Christian conservatives organizing to support nominees they approve of, any more than anything being wrong with Ralph Neas or the ACLU organizing lefties to oppose them (I wish some on the left and liberterian side of the blogosphere could bring themselves to admit that), but it’s also just as inappropriate for Frist to be as in bed with the Dobson group as it is for Neas to be calling the dance steps for the Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee.

That said, I think an awful lot of blogosphere commentators are letting their knee-jerk reactions to the “Christian Right” cloud their judgment, not so much regarding the Dobson stuff, as to the entirety of the fillibuster issue. A minority of a minority in the US Senate has installed what amounts to a religious test for court nominees, and folks, that’s dangerous no matter whether it’s being imposed in favor of or in opposition to religion and the religious.

Take Bill Pryor, for example. Pryor was the Attorney General of Alabama before being nominated by Bush, and he’d worked his way up through the prosecutors’ ranks to get there (I have a little second-hand knowledge of the guy thanks to a close friend who used to work for him). Pryor was denied a Senate vote by the likes of Dick Durban, Barbara Boxer and Chuckie Schumer very explicitly because Pryor is a devout Catholic, and thus (at least according to the fillibusterers) can’t be trusted on abortion.

Sorry, folks, but that’s a religious test, and a patently unconstitutional one. It’s no different than if Lott were to stand up and say, “I’m going to block the nomination of this Democratic judge because she’s a gol-darned atheist.” That would be entirely inappropriate, and so is the Boxer-Schumer rejection of Pryor for being a committed Catholic. Either one (and I don’t use this phrase lightly) leans hard towards being flatly un-American.

Besides which, Pryor’s record does not indicate anything like “extreme” actions based on his religion. I frankly wouldn’t have that much of a problem with blocking the nomination if we were talking about somebody as irresponsible and self-serving as, say, Roy Moore, but Pryor isn’t even close to being a Roy Moore.

Want a few more examples? Janice Rogers Brown (another naitive Alabamian, oddly enough) and Manuel Estrada (who dropped out of the process in disgust) were blocked on purely racial terms. We know now from leaked Democratic strategy memos that their nominations were seen as untenable purely because the Dems thought either of them would be hard to vote against as possible future Supreme Court nominees.

That’s got nothing to do with either of their records, and it’s got no legitimate place in the process of “advise and consent.” Not liking a nominee’s future prospects is not a defensible reason for opposing that nominee. You want to win that fight, win it in the elections for the guy (or gal) who does the nominating, not after the fact.

The blatantly racial blockings of Brown and Estrada ought to be raising a lot more hackles on the principled left and center than they are. And I’m sorry–these nominees are no more “extreme” on their side of the fence than leftie heartthrob Ruth Bader Ginsberg is on hers (quite a bit less so, in my admittedly biased opinion). A little more intellectual honesty on matters like that would be appreciated, but frankly, it’s not something I expect.

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Good Thing They Have All Those Editors

April 15th, 2005 - 2:29 pm

The Boston Globe got caught making up a story about a seal hunt in Canada that didn’t actually happen, and had issue a retraction and fire the freelancer who wrote it–although the story about the phony story comes from Reuters, so for all we know, the paper in question might actually have been the Birmingham News or Podunk Post.

But assuming that Reuters is accurate for a change, a question: what happened to the editors who approved it? Fact-checkers? You know, all those valuable tools (and I mean that in every sense of the word) who allegedly make Big Media “journalists” superior to us pajama types? Are they still on the payroll? And why weren’t their names publicized along with that of the fired freelance reporter?

Somebody notify Alex Beam. There’s print dreck in his paper.

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April 15th, 2005 - 1:00 am

Taxes are done, and I may have a lawsuit on my hands. Nothing exciting – just some people who might not have been following instructions.

Anyway, if I’m a bit distracted the next few weeks (like I haven’t been the last few weeks?), you’ll know why.

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Geek Alert

April 14th, 2005 - 9:37 pm

Thursday’s biggest news story is this:

It’s official! The MPAA has rated Star Wars – Episode III: Revenge of the Sith “PG-13 for sci-fi violence and some intense images”.

Why is that a big deal? Well, to normal people, it’s not. But it does give the Star Wars geek a new hope that George Lucas didn’t kiddie-down yet another SW movie.

Sometime in the last act, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker are going to come to blows. Master and student, comrades in arms, best friends

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Pass It On

April 14th, 2005 - 6:31 pm

After reading a post from a recently-returned vet on Instapundit, Old Man’s War author John Scalzi is generously emailing digital copies to any deployed military member in Iraq or Afghanistan. I just sent a copy of the post to my brother-in-law (Army, Afghanistan); if you know somebody over there, you ought to do the same, and maybe buy a dead-tree copy for yourself as a thank-you (I haven’t read “OMW” yet, but Martini Boy was raving about it a while back).

As for Mr. Scalzi, from one Heinlein fan to another, good on ya’. I tip my evening cocktail in your general direction.

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Unity Day

April 14th, 2005 - 2:53 pm

More photoblogging from Lebanon.

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Money Well Spent?

April 14th, 2005 - 11:54 am

An item on military procurement from DefenseTech:

19 percent of the Pentagon’s acquistion budget — the money to research and buy things — is being devoted to super-secret items, according to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. That comes out to about 28 billion dollars, almost double what was spent in 1995.

Not only is there a war on, but it’s a war fought largely in the shadows. A bigger black budget makes a lot of sense. Remember though that “black spending” often means “wasteful spending,” and we don’t have any way to audit it.

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iPod Observations

April 14th, 2005 - 11:34 am

Booker T. & The MG’s make you walk better.

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Weapons Ban Remains

April 14th, 2005 - 10:42 am

The EU isn’t letting France and Germany twist its arm on selling arms to China:

Europe seemed farther away than ever from lifting its 16 year-old arms embargo on China today, following statements by German officials and a vote in the European Parliament that urged linking the embargo question to human rights improvements in China.

“We want to reach a consensus, but this requires that everyone in the European Union votes in favor,” Joschka Fischer, the German foreign minister, said in a parliamentary debate on the embargo question. “For this it is necessary for China also to move.”

“It is in China’s power to sign the human rights conventions relatively soon,” Mr. Fischer continued, calling on China specifically to “ease administrative detentions and above all move towards a peaceful settlement of the disputes across the Taiwan Strait.”

Alsotoday, the European Parliament, meeting in Strasbourg, France, voted 431 to 85, with 31 abstentions, on a resolution urging the European Union not to lift the arms embargo.

Ironically, Fischer’s Green Party is one of the main obstacles to lifting the ban.

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April 14th, 2005 - 8:43 am

John McCain wants to block free scientific inquiry, too.

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“Congress shall make no law…”

April 14th, 2005 - 12:05 am


Most Americans believe bloggers should not be allowed to publish sensitive personal information about individuals, according to a new survey.

Web hosting company Hostway this week released the results of its poll of 2,500 Americans on blogging. Eighty percent of respondents did not believe that bloggers should be allowed to publish home addresses and other personal information about private citizens.

A further 72 percent favored censorship of personal information about celebrities, and 68 percent, information about elected or appointed government officials such as judges or mayors.

Thanks to McCain-Feingold, the American public may very well get its wish.

NOTE: For years I’ve joked that the best way to improve the First Amendment would be to put a period after the initial clause. These days, that’s a very unfunny joke.

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