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Monthly Archives: April 2008

Too Much to Swallow

April 10th, 2008 - 11:53 am

Way back when, AOL bought Time-Warner, to form AOL/Time-Warner. Not much later, everybody figured out that AOL was pretty much worthless, Time-Warner took back over, and dropped AOL from the name.

Now there’s this:

Yahoo Inc and Time Warner Inc are “closing in” on a deal where Yahoo would merge with Time Warner’s AOL Internet unit, brushing aside Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo, a source familiar with the talks said on Wednesday.

Brush aside? No, not really. But there are two possibilities. Now that AOL is worth less than nothing, Yahoo! stock might become even cheaper for Microsoft to gobble up. Alternately, Microsoft might decide that AOL is a poison pill.

Now think way back to when AOL ruled the internet, and sued to keep Microsoft from automatically installing an MSN shortcut on your desktop.

What, you don’t remember MSN, either?

Don’t Try This at Home

April 10th, 2008 - 8:48 am

So I found this page of historical Nikon stuff. Not of interest to many, I know, but there was one little item which might just blow your mind.

Talking about the 1950s design of one of the world’s first superfast lenses, the author notes, “The designers back then used only an abacus and a sheet of logarithms to conduct ray tracing calculations.

And that was just for a normal 50mm lens. No wonder we didn’t get really good zooms until much later.

Snow Day

April 10th, 2008 - 8:07 am

We are socked in here on top of Monument Hill. Photos to follow — assuming I can dig my good boots out of the storage closet.

Bipartisan Stupidity

April 9th, 2008 - 12:16 pm

I know it’s rarely a good idea to go to John Dvorak for reliable news, but this report looks ominous:

I was certainly surprised when CNBC called me this morning, asking if I could go on the air for a few minutes with Erin Burnett to discuss the announced phase-out of public Wi-Fi (802.11x) in all its forms, including the emerging 802.11n. The congressional bills were passed this morning, apparently with little or no public debate.

This is not good news. The only possible positive here is that the ban on Wi-Fi will not begin until January 2012, but in the meantime most of the available public spectrum—including the unlicensed 2.3-GHz to 2.9-GHz spectrum—is scheduled to be auctioned off long before 2012. Anyone caught using unlicensed devices will be subject to “a fine not to exceed $100,000 and indeterminate jail time not to exceed five years.”

The so-called Telecommunications Restructuring Act of 2008 was passed almost unanimously as a joint resolution based on SB 40108 and HR 17996-1. Essentially the free unlicensed spectrum is going to be auctioned off starting with the 2.3-GHz to 2.9-GHz frequencies, followed by the spectrum around 5 GHz and elsewhere.

The authors of the Senate bill, Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), sent out a joint press announcement explaining the rationale as part of a modernization process that will no longer sanction unlicensed frequencies due to interference issues and market confusion.

Can someone explain what, if anything, is going on here?

UPDATE: Whew!

Deep In The Sahara

April 9th, 2008 - 8:50 am

Morocco has been calling my name for decades. Someday soon, now that I am retired, I plan to visit and find out what the hell it wants. Perhaps after reading this you will want to visit, too.

I only hope Sting and Judy Collins won’t be there.

6a00d8345204a169e200e5518e71978833-800wi.jpg

Photo by the blogging girl.

21st Century Blues

April 9th, 2008 - 8:47 am

No internet here this morning, and no word from Those Bastards at Qwest on when it’ll be back up. Meanwhile, is it possible to blog on an iPhone via the EDGE network?

If you’re reading this, it is.

Veepstakes

April 8th, 2008 - 12:45 pm

PunditGuy explains why Condi Rice won’t be McCain’s vice president — and I’m inclined to agree.

I Am So There

April 8th, 2008 - 11:32 am

Robert Englund. Jenna Jameson. Zombie Strippers.

What else do you need to know?

From the Front

April 8th, 2008 - 10:39 am

Michael Totten is still in Fallujah. Or again in Fallujah. Or something. Anyway, read:

Every mosque in the city was anti-American during the peak of the insurgency, but every single one has flipped in the meantime. Every day the imams exhort the people of Fallujah to support the American effort. The Marines know this because they have Arabic-speakers who sit in and listen to what gets said.

“What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen since you got here?” I asked Lieutenant Bibler.

“How the people interact with Marines,” he said. Almost everyone I spoke to in Fallujah said the friendliness of the local people amazed them. They expected unrelenting hostility, and for good reason. Fallujah used to be vicious.

Remember those words when you listen to the MSM and our political “leaders” try to spin GEN Petraeus all week long.

Now go put ten or 20 or 50 bucks in Mike’s tip jar, OK?

WFB Jr, Remembered

April 8th, 2008 - 9:28 am

Christopher Buckley writes, “I’m not a great man.” But I can tell you after reading his “My Old Man and the Sea,” that he’s a damn good one.

Photoblogging

April 8th, 2008 - 8:28 am

Send in your best shot of a desecrated bottle of Absolut.

I’m going to get right on this, as soon as the baby goes down for his nap.

Required Reading

April 8th, 2008 - 8:26 am

COL Austin Bay explains Basra to the slow kids in the MSM — and elsewhere.

Last Met HD Broadcast — Until Next Year!

April 7th, 2008 - 5:51 pm

So, how many of you attended Saturday’s live Met HD broadcast of La Bohème? Raise your hands, raise your hands, so I can count. Keep ‘em up, keep ‘em up.

Well. The final live HD broadcast for the 2007-2008 Met season will be on Saturday, April 26 when they will present the rarely performed Donizetti opera La Fille du Régiment. Here’s a BBC Channel 4 news report on last year’s Royal Opera House staging of the same production and cast that the Met will stage later this month.

The Met began these live HD broadcasts last year, presenting 6 broadcasts. This year they presented 8 broadcasts. Next year, the 2008-2009 season will include 10 broadcasts beginning this fall sometime. Ten! Woo hoo!!

Who’d a Thunk It?

April 7th, 2008 - 3:31 pm

Jacksonians for Clinton? At least in the primaries, that’s what Michael Barone argues.

Speaking Truth to Obama

April 7th, 2008 - 2:45 pm

Here’s more of the America for which Michelle Obama feels no pride:

“[I]n this ever-shifting, moving bar, Barack Obama will always be the underdog. No matter how much money he raises, no matter how many wins he pulls together, no matter how many delegates he accumulates; he is still the underdog. It’s the way it works.”

Honey, your husband is damn near a lock for the nomination for President of a very major political party. Get over yourself already.

The Old Switcheroo

April 7th, 2008 - 1:55 pm

Remember how the Terror War would just “create more terrorists?” Well, more Arabs are secretly fighting in Afghanistan again — this time on our side.

Progress Report

April 7th, 2008 - 1:38 pm

Ralph Peters gets a first hand report from Iraq:

My old comrade went on to lay out the beating that al Qaeda’s getting up in Mosul – the last major city where the terrorists have much influence. “There has been a significant chipping away at the leadership and operators of al Qaeda . . . at their safe havens and caches. In the past week, special-operations forces detained one of the top al Qaeda leaders in the city, along with a number of his subordinates and fighters.

“The Coalition and Iraqi forces are also putting considerable pressure on the networks that support the foreign-fighter flow . . . Helping in all this are tens of thousands of so-called ‘Sons of Iraq,’ who secure their local areas to keep al Qaeda out. The progress against al Qaeda is a key reason for the significant reduction in civilian deaths.”
But what about the recent fighting in Basra, portrayed as a disaster by the media? “The Iraqi Security Forces conducted a number of targeted operations, took over the ports [key prizes that had been funding the militias] and are in the process of reestablishing checkpoints and security positions in the city.

“The Iraqi operation did reflect a willingness to take tough decisions about tough problems. It also displayed the Iraqi capability to deploy two brigades’ worth of conventional and special-operations forces on less than 48-hours’ notice, with another brigade following. That would not have been possible a year ago.”

The Barack Obama campaign released a statement in response saying, “Lalalalalalalalala I can’t hear you lalalalalalalalala”

Arianna Huffington says, “Petraeus’ Call for a Pause is Really Just “Stay the Course 2.0” And that’s just the headline. From there, she gets worse:

Have you heard the news? “The Surge” is about to end. The next phase of our 100 Year War is “The Pause.” Surge, Pause… Surge, Pause… We can’t pull out! It’s all starting to sound a bit sexual, isn’t it? But the American people are the ones getting screwed.

“Stay the course,” of course, was just three years of President Bush dicking around, accomplishing nothing at a great cost in treasure and too many live. What we’ve seen the last few months is actual progress. But no matter to Arianna, for whom surrender is always the first, last and only option.

Worse, Huffington repeats the “100 years of war” slander against John McCain, who, at last count, wasn’t Petraeus to begin with.

But if anything here sounds at all vaguely sexual, it’s the continuous noise of Huffington being fucked in the head.

(more…)

On the Ropes

April 7th, 2008 - 1:01 pm

The Terror Tet continues in Sadr City:

The heightened violence came on the eve of Congressional testimony in Washington by Gen. David H. Petraeus, the senior American commander in Iraq, and Ryan C. Crocker, the American ambassador here, to defend their strategy for political reconciliation and improved security in the country.

The Green Zone attacks were, symbolically at least, a sign that forces hostile to the United States are still able to strike at the American nerve center and seat of government power in the capital of Iraq.

Remember, the real Tet was nothing better than a symbol for North Vietnam and the Viet Cong. In reality, it was a crushing defeat for the Cong (they never recovered) and the end of major offensive operations for the North until after the American withdrawal.
And we all know how that turned out.

If I may paraphrase Margaret Thatcher, this is no time to go Cronkitey, George.

Required Reading

April 7th, 2008 - 12:13 pm

Here’s a question John McCain needs to ponder:

As the clatter of construction work shows, it is easier to talk about closing Guantánamo than to do it. Even shuttering it would not settle the most fundamental question raised by this notorious prison: what to do with its inmates.

Gitmo is at best an unfortunate solution to a nasty problem. But the alternatives all seem worse. Why can’t the candidates address this — especially McCain, who’s running as the national security guy?

That’s What the Mute Button Is For

April 7th, 2008 - 11:44 am

Andrew Sullivan: “Just as excitable offline.”

UPDATE: If you must watch, here’s the video of Andy vs Hitch.

iPhone Faster

April 7th, 2008 - 11:01 am

The Wall Street Journal’s Walter Mossberg says there will be a new iPhone with 3G access “within 60 days.”

AT&T’s EDGE network is slow, but it’s plenty fast enough to pull up email, weather, stocks, and PDA-enabled versions of web sites. And it’s certainly easier on the battery than 3G.

I wonder if the new iPhone is going to take a hit on battery life…

What we really need is an iPhone with 100 GB or so of storage, so I can ditch my aging 5th Gen iPod.

UPDATE: Macrumors.com concurs.

Turn Turn Turn

April 7th, 2008 - 10:15 am

Now this is what I call spin:

How Moqtada al-Sadr Won in Basra

That’s the headline to a Time Magazine piece by Charles Crain — reporting, it must be said, from Baghdad, not Basra.

But what are others saying? Let’s see.

From far outside the safety of the Green Zone, Michael Totten reports:

I stepped inside the school yard. Hundreds of children saw me and the Marines, and the whole place erupted in screams of excitement. It was as if Britney Spears or the guy from Coldplay had shown up. The volume was just extraordinary and I took a few steps back in surprise.

Wildly screaming children jockeyed for position in front of my camera. After a few minutes of pandemonium, teachers coaxed most of the kids into classrooms and left a few behind to pick up the trash and sweep the sidewalk around the courtyard.

And we all know how the Arab world cheers the weak horse.

And what’s this from Michael Yon? Read:

Ammunition, grenades and other weapons were captured, but after that Special Forces/ISWAT mission, attacks in the vicinity decreased. Tal Afar, formerly “Al Qaeda City,” is mostly quiet these days. Normally we have far less than a hundred soldiers in the city, but we do need money for civil affairs projects. This money truly is critical. Otherwise, the situation improves, though without investment this could be reversed.

The few remaining serious troublemakers are being hacked off and mulched in these incessant operations, which gives the enemy no rest (in the old days, when they were murdering Iraqis and Americans by the thousands, AQI used Tal Afar for training and R&R).

Retreat, indeed.

Earlier today, one reader here commented that the Iraqi government “got its ass handed to it” in Basra. Oh, really? The numbers tell a different tale:

The Mahdi army lost 571 killed, 881 wounded, 490 captured, and 30 surrendered, in a week of fighting. The army and police lost over 500 to desertions, which is a much lower percentage of these losses than in previous operations. One of the army brigades had only recently finished training. To everyone’s surprise, the brigade did not fall apart. The Mahdi army lost far more in terms of neighborhoods controlled, weapons, vehicles and popular support. While many of the Mahdi army factions have turned into gangsters, the ones that have caused the most ill-will are Islamic radicals. These lads wander around harassing and attacking people who say or do things the fanatics consider un-Islamic. This is what goes on in Iran, and Iraqis know it and Iraqis don’t want it.

Whose ass is in whose hand? As Newsweek’s Michael Hirsh said last week:

Basra may well turn out to be Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s Kasserine Pass. That notorious battle, which took place in Tunisia in late February 1943, marked the first large-scale encounter between untested American troops and the battle-hardened Germans. The Americans, to put it mildly, did not do well. But they quickly fired incompetent commanders, adjusted in tactics, and never lost another major battle. In Basra the nascent Iraqi Army—also riddled with incompetence and self-doubt—actually came out looking better against Iraq’s well-established militias than the American Army had 65 years earlier against the entrenched Nazis, says retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey. “At Kasserine we got our asses kicked. These people didn’t,” McCaffrey says.

Now is not the time to turn tail.

UPDATE: A sort of bipartisan analysis here.

How Do You Say “Boycott” in Spanish?

April 7th, 2008 - 9:24 am

By now probably everybody has seen this Absolut vodka ad.

My response? Well, I used to be an Absolut drinker, but Ketel One tastes just fine, thankyouverymuch.

UPDATE: Lileks adds, usefully, “Idiots.” And this:

I’m looking forward to Absolut Palestine, Absout Russia, Absolute China (Tibet AND Taiwan) and, as some wag noted on the La Times site, Absolut Germany.

Does Absolut have absolutely no idea how much money I’ve put into their coffers over the years?

Wink Wink Nudge Nudge

April 7th, 2008 - 8:58 am

The repositioning continues:

Democrats running for U.S. president have promised to pull troops from Iraq, but some analysts and defense officials question whether either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton would fulfill that pledge if elected.

Certainly, the U.S. military will comply with any policy adopted by the next commander-in-chief, including a full-scale withdrawal from Iraq, officers say.

But some officials and policy analysts say it is difficult to see Obama or Clinton, if elected, ordering a swift pull-out once presented with the complexity of the security and political situation in Iraq and the responsibility for maintaining relationships in the region.

In other words, it’s OK if a candidate is reckless and irresponsible towards an American ally.

Obama promised to wreck NAFTA, but might (or might not have) backed off that position, through back channels, to the Canadian government. Now there are indications he might not pull immediately out of Iraq as promised. No need to let the rubes know what he’d really do in office.

And he represents hope and change and togetherness how, exactly?

It Can’t Happen Here

April 7th, 2008 - 6:55 am

More violent repression in China:

Ten people were wounded when Chinese paramilitary police opened fire on a crowd of Tibetans protesting against limits on a prayer ceremony and demanding the return of the Dalai Lama, witnesses said.

The violence was in a remote town in western Sichuan province on Saturday, where monks at the Lingque temple had been joined by several hundred pilgrims for an annual ceremony, the Torgya, which is meant to exorcise evil elements from society.

Imagine that.

Now imagine this. Our fascist President Bush announces restrictions on how and when Unitarians may worship. And when the inevitable protests occur — peaceful, tie-dyed protests — FBI shock troops open fire on the crowd.

Now imagine the global response to that.

Historically, China has gotten away with pretty much whatever they wanted in Tibet. And they probably still will. But with the Olympics being held in Beijing this summer, at least people are paying some attention to what’s going on over there.

There’s a chance I was wrong in opposing letting China host the Olympics.

Buh-Bye

April 7th, 2008 - 5:48 am

Hillary Clinton’s chief strategist — she inherited Mark Penn from her husband — has left the campaign. Here’s the official explanation:

Penn realized that he needed to step down after it was discovered this past week that Penn, who also is chief executive of the lobbying and public relations firm Burson-Marsteller Worldwide, had been hired by the Colombian government to help secure a trade deal that Sen. Clinton has said she opposes, sources told ABC News.

Or it could be a case of rats leaving a sinking ship — but I somehow doubt it.

Hot New Bod

April 6th, 2008 - 9:39 pm

I see Glenn’s been getting busy with his new D300 body, playing with color like only the new Nikon siblings will let you. But it’s not too shabby shooting black and white, either.

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We Have Nothing to Fear But Victory Itself

April 6th, 2008 - 9:20 pm

The New York Times has a Sunday feature on GEN David Petraeus as a potential presidential candidate* in 2012, calling him “politically astute.” If you ask me, that’s a loaded phrase. It’s as if reporter Steven Lee Myers is trying to belittle Petraeus as a military commander, just in time for his latest Congressional testimony.

Although to be fair, you don’t become a general officer without being politically astute. It’s not as if Petraeus’s military credentials could be doubted after our successes in Iraq since he took charge — but how about we “question the timing” of such a statement?

What’s most interesting in the story however is this line:

On Tuesday and Wednesday, General Petraeus will once again appear on Capitol Hill, testifying about the progress of a war that most Democrats and, polls suggest, most Americans think cannot end quickly enough.

“Quickly enough.” Ponder those last two words for a moment. What you’ve just read is the sound, yet again, of goalposts moving.

Due to the upcoming election, there are only two Democrats of note right now, and their names are Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. They don’t say we can’t win “quickly enough.” They say we can’t win at all.

But Petraeus changed the narrative, didn’t he? And so The New York Times is helpfully changing the terms of the debate, from “we can’t win” to “we can’t win quite as quickly as the people would like.”

In other words, there’s victory in the air — and that has the liberal media running scared.

(more…)

A Scorned Wife

April 4th, 2008 - 11:08 am

A little something to enjoy with your cocktail this evening, in eager anticipation of tomorrow’s live broadcast of Puccini’s La Bohème.

About 16 years ago, the gifted and beautiful Italian mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli recorded this aria, from the Vivaldi opera Bajazet which was first performed around 1735. In this clip, Bartoli performs the aria during a recital. It’s one of my favorite pieces of music, and I hope you enjoy it too.

The lyrics are simple, pained, ageless:

Sposa son disprezzata
fida, son oltraggiata.
Cieli, che feci mai?
E pur egl’e il mio cor,
il mio sposo, il mio amor,
la mia speranza.

I am a scorned wife,
faithful, yet insulted.
Heavens, what did I do?
Yet he is my love,
my husband, my beloved,
my hope.

Sposa son disprezzata