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Monthly Archives: February 2006


February 28th, 2006 - 9:40 pm

No blogging tonight. The baby got four vaccinations this afternoon, and still isn’t happy about it. Although he sure doesn’t mind the cherry-flavored Motrin. But I can’t complain, not when he looks like this.

To help keep you busy until morning, I’ve also got links to two – yes, two! – all-new fiskings.

Share and enjoy.

Gulf War I – The Disaster

February 28th, 2006 - 12:09 am

Plenty of well-meaning people on the right, the left, and in the center all agree that the 1991 Gulf War was an example of how to wage war right. In the particulars, all those folks on the money. We went in with the UN Seal of Approval

Good Stuff

February 27th, 2006 - 10:33 pm

Clicked on The Officers’ Club to see if there was anything new worth reading, and read almost the entire page. The only thing that kept me from reading everything was getting near the bottom and finding stuff I’d already read.

So go click and scroll, yourself.

More on Civil Wars

February 26th, 2006 - 11:35 pm

James Joyner takes my ideas much further. Read it.

UPDATE: James has comments open here.


February 26th, 2006 - 10:41 pm

Charlie Munn (politely) disagrees with my assessment of Iraq – and gives me a lot of things to think about.

If only those on the left would do more than insult and inflame (but let’s not inflame the Muslims!), then maybe they’d be an actual part of the national debate.

Book Reports

February 26th, 2006 - 10:20 pm

I really enjoyed Todd A’s first novel, Being Good. His next one is almost ready, and I can’t wait to read it. If you have any interest at all in discovering what it takes to do all this, check out Todd’s blog.

Thursday night, I finished reading Peter Spiros’s Saniya. I’m not sure what I expected when I opened it, but it was a damn good read, very sweet, and a nice break from my usual fare.

Then last night, I got to the last page of Tobias Buckell’s Crystal Rain. The right/libertarian side of the blogosphere has been buzzing about this book for a couple weeks now, and all I can add is that the buzz is dead-on.

Next up: Ghost Brigades and Prayers for the Assassin. Can’t wait!

Getting It Wrong

February 26th, 2006 - 8:42 pm

Bill Buckley on our problems in Iraq:

A problem for American policymakers

Powerful Lesson

February 24th, 2006 - 6:25 pm

Yesterday, I learned that paintball rocks.


February 24th, 2006 - 10:38 am

Some days, it’s really good to be a blogger. In the last few minutes, Chris Huckenpoehler and Patrick Rockefeller both emailed pictures to me of today’s protest at the Danish Embassy.

Here are a few from Patrick -

Yes, that’s Christopher Hitchens.

Sully was there, too.

And Cliff May and Bill Kristol.

Cliff and Patrick each had shots showing just how odd (and I mean that in a good way!) the Danes can be -


Finally, my personal favorite -

Yep, a protest sign made from Lego. Ya gotta love the Danes.

UPDATE: Eddy has more pics at Crossing Wall Street.

And even more from Fuck France.

UPDATE: Finally, a protest babe.


Another Severed Penis

February 24th, 2006 - 12:13 am

This is so wrong in so many ways:

A clerk at a GetGo station made a horrifying discovery last night after a man walked into the minimart and asked her to heat something wrapped in a paper towel in the store’s microwave.

When the item in the microwave gave off an unusual odor, the clerk opened the over door, unwrapped the paper and found what appeared to be a severed human penis, according to KDKA-TV.

The clerk immediately called police, but the man who handed the item to the clerk fled from the store on Fifth Avenue, KDKA reported.

McKeesport police declined comment last night.

The report says the object only “appeared” to be a penis, so this could just be a cock & bull story.

A Fine Mess

February 23rd, 2006 - 11:34 pm

A civil war is the nastiest way to get a good result. The United States hasn’t faced a succession crisis since we settled that ugly business at Appomattox in 1865, and no one to the left of the Ku Klux Klan has since advocated we bring back slavery. Getting there cost 600,000 American lives, but obviously they were not lost in vain.

The English Civil War established parliamentary supremacy over the King, in a way that no nice law ever could. Maybe that’s what Thomas Jefferson meant when he wrote that “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

That’s not to say that every civil war has a happy ending. China has suffered more civil strife in its long history than modern Italy has had governments

Press START and Unleash Hell

February 23rd, 2006 - 10:20 pm

Stanislav Petrov saved my life. Yours, too. And your sister’s.

Click here to find out how.


February 23rd, 2006 - 10:17 pm

While I’m working on something else, you should take a look at this:

Folks, I am on a crushing deadline, and simply CANNOT afford to take time away from work in order to be there.


As an American, and as a writer and editor who is defending, against fascists abroad and cowards in our own media, his right to write and speak, I cannot afford NOT to be there.

So, I hope to see many of you there on Friday, at high noon.

That’s Robert Bidinotto, doing his bit for freedom at the Danish Embassy tomorrow. If it’s at all possible for you to be there, then be there.


February 23rd, 2006 - 9:51 pm

The baby still has a cold, but Melissa has him for the night. Because I got a really bad idea in my head and now I have to write it out. Results later.

What She Said

February 23rd, 2006 - 5:33 am

Peggy Noonan on the bad joke known as the Transportation Security Administration:

I am almost always picked for extra screening. I must be on a list of middle aged Irish-American women terrorists. I know a message is being sent: We don’t do ethnic profiling in America. But that is not, I suspect, the message anyone receives. The message people receive is: This is all nonsense. What they think is: This is all kabuki. We’re being harassed and delayed so politicians can feel good. The security personnel themselves seem to know it’s nonsense: they’re always bored and distracted as they go through my clothing, my stockings, my computer, my earrings. They don’t treat me like a terror possibility, they treat me like a sad hunk of meat.

I don’t think most of us get extra screening because they think we are terrorists. I think we get it because they know we’re not. They screen people who are not terrorists because it helps them pretend they are protecting us, in the same way doctors in the middle ages used to wear tall hats: because they couldn’t cure you. It’s all show.

This is a flying nation. We fly. And everyone knows airport security is an increasingly sad joke, that TSA itself often appears to have forgotten its mission, if it ever knew it, and taken on a new one–the ritual abuse of passengers.

Now there’s a security problem. Solve that one.

To put it another way, “UAE, ABC, NRA — I could care less who runs the ports, just as long as it’s not Homeland Security.” As Homer would say, it’s funny ’cause it’s true.

Or maybe not so funny, but unfortunately still true.

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February 22nd, 2006 - 9:28 pm

Limited blogging, due to a baby with a head cold. These things happen – nothing to do but keep him warm and fed and pretend that that disgusting-looking suction thing is doing some good.

If you’re in the DC area, or are at least in roadtrip distance, considering showing some solidarity at the Danish Embassy on Friday at noon.

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The Phantom Menace

February 22nd, 2006 - 5:17 pm

If you follow tech blogs like Engadget or Slashdot, you probably noticed a blurb about how several movie companies are suing Samsung, over an obscure DVD player that was sold for just a few months in 2004. Like many, many other DVD players, the Samsung DVD-HD841 had a “back door,” or a semi-secret code that could be entered in through the remote control to turn off various copy protection schemes. Disney, Time Warner, Fox, Paramount and Universal have all sued claiming they’ve been damaged by video piracy related to the Samsung players, and are demanding a complete recall of all units in private hands (how the heck they plan to pull that off, I have no idea, and I imagine the plaintiffs don’t, either).

The existence of such a DVD player is nothing new; the age of DVD secret codes goes back at least seven years, to the venerable Apex AD-600A, which caused a huge commotion when its own back door was revealed by USA Today and the Washington Post way back in 1999. The Apex players, which were cheap for the day at $175, flew off the shelves of Circuit City, their only retailer, and hundreds if not thousands made their way to eBay for resale at a hefty profit.

Thing is, all of these players, from the Apex all the way up to the Samsung and beyond, wouldn’t let you do much more than avoid the MPAA’s asinine region coding scheme (meaning you could play DVDs bought anywhere in the world, as opposed to only those from the one region the movie companies think you ought to be able to buy from), or successfully copy a DVD onto videotape, or later onto a set-top DVD recorder. The really funny thing is, not one copy made in that manner would be nearly as high-quality as the exact duplicate anybody can make today with a $40 DVD burner and free, easy-to-find DVD copying software. And region-coding actually affects only a tiny portion of any DVD’s purchasers.

So, what’s the big deal here? Why are all those movie companies suing Samsung over a DVD player that really didn’t do much of note, and at any rate hasn’t been for sale for a year and a half? What the heck are they going to accomplish, beyond sending the Samsung player’s resale value through the roof?

I’m glad you asked.

This lawsuit is not about Samsung. It’s not about the DVD-HD841. It’s not even about DVD players as you and I know them.

It’s a warning. It’s a shot across the bow to Samsung and Apex and Panasonic and Cyberhome and every other hardware manufacturer, great and small, to lock up all those back doors in future products.

The movie companies know that the DVD copying cat is so far out of the bag, its kittens have reached every corner of the Earth. They’ve lost that fight, but they don’t plan to lose it as easily in the new generation of high-definition hardware. They know very well that the guys (and almost all of them are male) who design the hardware and software for Blu-Ray and HD-DVD and every other variant of video technology want to be able to make copies for themselves, the movie studios’ wishes be damned.

That’s what happened with the back doors on all these consumer products–they were put in by engineers who wanted to get around the copying restrictions placed on their hardware. Today, Hollywood is leaning on the bosses of those engineers to stamp out any such shenanigans in future products. They figure if the hardware suits are worried enough about getting sued, they’ll lean on their engineers to only produce products unlikely to draw the fire of Hollywood’s First Lawyer Division.

Will it work? I frankly doubt it. Every engineer alive thinks he’s smarter than any lawyer, and a lot of them are right. But Hollywood is going to do its damnedest to scare them out of proving it.

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Fun with Photoshop

February 21st, 2006 - 11:45 pm

Or Why I’m Not Blogging Tonight

Last year in the UK, I took some pictures of a stone church in village north of London. Most of them turned out like this -


You can see the problem. With an angle wide enough to get everything in the frame, you get severe perspective distortion. What I’ve been teaching myself tonight is how to fix that in Photoshop -


A pull to the left and a lift up top, and suddenly everything looks just fine.

You can do this yourself in just a few minutes, once you get the hang of it. While shooting, however, remember not to fill the frame with your subject. You’ll lose a lot of the image in the upper corners when you correct for perspective.

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There Is Such a Thing As a Stupid Question

February 21st, 2006 - 9:32 pm

Is the world ready for SteveTV?

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Rim Shot

February 21st, 2006 - 7:32 pm

There’s nothing for middle aged men to be proud of there, Glenn. It’s just defining deviancy down.

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Port Recall

February 21st, 2006 - 4:05 pm

I honestly don’t know what to make of the port management story. I’m not clear on what the implications of the whole deal are. On the one hand, I can certainly understand the “What the hell are they thinking?” instinctive reaction. That initial response to a country from the Middle East ‘taking over US ports’ is not hard to sympathize with.

On the other hand, I think Bush has a point when he says we aren’t doing ourselves (or anybody else) any favors by taking a “no Arabs need apply” position on doing business. That’s a bad way to make friends–and enemies. Whether or not you buy the line ‘we are not at war with Islam,’ we are not at war with every Arab on the planet. We really are trying to win people over in that part of the world. Throwing what appears to be a normal business transaction back in the faces of a decent ally is not going to help our cause.

And UAE is an ally. At least as I understand it, the UAE is easily the most Americanized of the Gulf states. We already sell them the most sophisticated version of the F-16 ever built; the new jets they’re getting are more advanced than any US F-16 (no kidding). That’s a pretty big statement of trust, and that deal was done well before Bush came to power; I remember seeing the first models doing flight tests back in the 1990′s.

That’s not to say that the US can’t or shouldn’t be careful here. I have no problem at all with doing extensive screenings of port employees, for instance (I’d be pretty hypocritical if I did, since I had to go through a pretty damn intensive government screening myself for my own job). But after further review, I do have a problem with “no Arabs need apply.” The opportunistic stuff I’m hearing out of everybody from Hillary Clinton to Bill Frist sounds a lot like that, and that’s not something we ought to be standing for.

For whatever it’s worth, I think Bush is going to take a big political hit for the whole affair. Nobody can accuse him of going with polls or focus groups on this one.

UPDATE: The proprieter of Aladdin’s Rant (full disclosure–he’s a friend of mine) has a few thoughts on the subject.

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Required Reading

February 21st, 2006 - 10:40 am


The incredible thing about the ongoing Kristallnacht against Denmark (and in some places, against the embassies and citizens of any Scandinavian or even European Union nation) is that it has resulted in, not opprobrium for the religion that perpetrates and excuses it, but increased respectability! A small democratic country with an open society, a system of confessional pluralism, and a free press has been subjected to a fantastic, incredible, organized campaign of lies and hatred and violence, extending to one of the gravest imaginable breaches of international law and civility: the violation of diplomatic immunity. And nobody in authority can be found to state the obvious and the necessary

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Money$ Too Tight (Not To Mention)

February 21st, 2006 - 9:39 am

Spook86 takes Max Boot to task for his recent critique of the Pentagon’s new budget:

But as he examines the Pentagon budget, Boot finds that projected funding fails to match QDR rhetoric. According to Boot, too much of the budget is devoted to conventional weapons programs from the Cold War, including the F-22 fighter, the F-25 Joint Strike Fighter, and the F/A-18 Super Hornet.

Unfortunately, there are major problems with Boot’s premise that (ultimately) undermine his argument.

Read the whole thing to find out exactly what Spook is talking about. Really, I should have headlined the link “Required Reading,” but couldn’t pass up the Simply Red joke.

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This Is the Last Time for a Long While, I Swear

February 21st, 2006 - 9:28 am

John Scalzi, the guy who started the iTunes Game, is playing it my way now.

PS I’m just kidding, John. Please still let me read the new book, OK?

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Name Calling

February 20th, 2006 - 11:54 pm

Dan Morgan accuses Glenn Reynolds of being a conservative.

I can’t agree with Dan on this one, if only because by his lights I’m one, too. After giving the matter a little thought and a large cocktail, I’d like to propose a new two-part political labeling system.

What do you call someone whose politics are far to the left, but who wants to achieve his goals through free elections? In today’s parlance, that guy is a liberal.

But what’s the label for someone with the same goals, but through violent means? You might call him a radical, but radical isn’t descriptive enough. Sure, it means someone who wants radical change – but in which direction?

Yes, “reactionary” is what some people call right-wing radicals, but that label is no good, either. A Libertarian could be considered a reactionary, if you forget about slavery and women’s’ rights. Then again, not even Pat Buchanan has (yet) called for taking the vote away from women or putting black people in chains.

Our terms don’t work. I’d call them outdated, but that might get me labeled a reactionary. Or a radical. Or something. Also, I’m not sure our lingo was ever, ah, indated.

What we need are a hyphenated labels, indicating both direction and means.

Take me for example. Individually, each of my political values is more libertarian than not. But as I wrote two weeks ago, I’d rather lose on the issues than corrupt the Constitution. What does that make me? A libertarian-conservative. Libertarian goals, conservative temperament. I’d wager that Glenn would wear the same label, maybe even happily.

So. We need five labels to cover beliefs:

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Just Desserts II

February 20th, 2006 - 11:52 pm

Want to know what to do with those East Coast ports that are up for sale? How about letting the Danes run them?

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That’s a German Name, Right?

February 20th, 2006 - 11:09 pm

Dr Seuss: Warmonger.


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Oh, The Horror!

February 20th, 2006 - 11:03 pm

Playing last weekend’s iTunes game, Stephen Bainbridge one-upped us all.


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Just Desserts

February 20th, 2006 - 9:40 pm

I don’t normally link to subscription-only stuff, but Chris K Chew sent something so good I can’t resist. The free-for-everyone teaser reads:


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Divided We Stand

February 20th, 2006 - 9:23 pm

Michael Totten is in Kurdistan, where he writes:

Iraq may not survive in one piece. The overwhelming majority of Iraqi Kurds are packing their bags. Most have already said goodbye. Erbil (Hawler in Kurdish) is the capital of the de-facto sovereign Kurdistan Regional Government. Baghdad is thought of as the capital of a deranged foreign country.

On this same theme I wrote a couple years ago that

The longer the insurgency continues, the more sense partition makes. Problem is, the bespoke-shoes boys at the State Department would never stand for it. (Neither would the UN – although State is a far greater obstacle than the idiots on the East River.)

I’d forgotten until reading Mike’s post that I’d written those words. Whatever happens to Iraq, it’s clearer than ever that the friction between State, Defense, the CIA, and the White House is doing us (and them) far more harm than good. With all that in mind, go read what else Totten has to say.

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