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Monthly Archives: July 2008

Reader’s Choice

July 31st, 2008 - 1:59 pm

Maybe Nancy Pelosi would like to institute a “fairness doctrine” for book sales, too.

Cuil search engine

July 28th, 2008 - 8:02 am

From Drudge this morning: “Ex-Google engineers debut ‘Cuil’ way to search“.

It’s here.

Aside from the impressive numbers, these two paragraphs from the linked article got my attention:

Rather than trying to mimic Google’s method of ranking the quantity and quality of links to Web sites, Patterson says Cuil’s technology drills into the actual content of a page. And Cuil’s results will be presented in a more magazine-like format instead of just a vertical stack of Web links. Cuil’s results are displayed with more photos spread horizontally across the page and include sidebars that can be clicked on to learn more about topics related to the original search request.

Finally, Cuil is hoping to attract traffic by promising not to retain information about its users’ search histories or surfing patterns – something that Google does, much to the consternation of privacy watchdogs.

Yahoo! Whoopee!

The View from a Folding Chair

July 27th, 2008 - 3:50 pm

(As always, click the pic for a version of immodest size.)

It’s no D3, but Nikon’s D300 ain’t bad in low light, either. That’s ISO 2000, handheld, no vibration reduction. This shot would have been about impossible to make as recently as a year ago. It’s not art or anything, but it sure is fun being able to do it.

But the best shot of the weekend is still this one.

The View from 11,000 Feet

July 27th, 2008 - 3:35 pm

(Click the pic for too-nice-for-dial-up version)

Chinns Lake, Clear Creek County, Colorado.

The View from 10,500 Feet

July 27th, 2008 - 1:09 pm

(Click the pic for a nicer size — too nice for a dial-up connection.)

Colorado doesn’t suck. We were above — way above — Idaho Springs, just off of I-70. But from here, you’d never know there was any civilization anywhere near at all.

Gone Fishin’

July 25th, 2008 - 6:33 am

Camping, really. I’ll spend all weekend on purpose without plumbing or a roof or any kind of amenities, but sitting on the edge of a river with a stick and some string always struck me as silly. Go figure.

Be back on Sunday with some stuff about Obama and Germany.

Set Your Bookmarks

July 24th, 2008 - 9:47 am

Fake Steve Jobs is now Real Dan Lyons.

S-EXU77Y 3XPLICIT PR|S0N SC3N3S

July 24th, 2008 - 9:38 am

David Cushing emails:

Remember the rough treatment you wanted for the convicted Spam King? Apparently he is so brain dead that he escaped from a minimum security prison. Nobody does that, because if you do that, they put you in a higher security prison, which is much less pleasant.

This just smacks of Dim.

The whole story is on Slashdot.

Programming Note

July 23rd, 2008 - 12:45 pm

Ever tried to get all your camping gear together, after it’s been unused in the garage for two years — and it’s not the same garage it was in the last time? And you’re watching a two-year-old who has, apparently, been eating fresh coffee grounds by the fistful?

Yeah, that’s what I’m doing today.

What you should be doing is waiting for the downloadable version of this week’s PJM Political radio show. I’m your host, plus Lileks, Ed Morrissey, Tom Lifson of AmericanThinker.com, and “Anchoress” Elizabeth Scalia. Plus, as always, our dapper producer Ed Driscoll.

US Demographic Trends

July 23rd, 2008 - 6:23 am

Michael Barone looks at new demographic data that has been extrapolated from 2007 US population estimates and sees red.

But the People Love Him

July 22nd, 2008 - 10:21 am

What Obama could learn from Europe’s heartless right-wing leaders.

And now…

July 22nd, 2008 - 10:06 am

…in our summertime lull, while we await the arrival of the Met opera broadcasts this fall, let’s pause and take a look at something that is…, is…, well it’s indescribable, really. (If one takes indescribable as being an amalgam of indiscrete, desecration, screech and warble.)

Ladies and gents, the indescribable something:

(…i’m so sorry, if you need to clean your ears listen to this…)

h/t: La Cieca

Is It 2010 2011 2012 Yet?

July 22nd, 2008 - 9:46 am

What else does Windows Vista suck at? Running solid state hard drives.

Turns out, the reason SSD-equipped laptops get worse battery time than ones with plain old hard drives is because Vista doesn’t know what it’s doing. Windows 7 can’t come soon enough — although OS X is already here.

In a column ostensibly to explain why Jesse Jackson wants to castrate Obama, Shelby Steele explains the secret of Obama’s success:

Mr. Obama’s great political ingenuity was very simple: to trade moral leverage for gratitude. Give up moral leverage over whites, refuse to shame them with America’s racist past, and the gratitude they show you will constitute a new form of black power. They will love you for the faith you show in them.

Simple. Powerful. True?

It would certainly explain a lot — including why so many people find Obama such a messianic figure. In the Western tradition, what’s more transcending than forgiveness?

And if you’re already suffering from white guilt, forgiveness might be a very nice change of pace from Jackson’s 40 years of race-hustling.

The Manchurian Hawaiian Candidate?

July 21st, 2008 - 4:04 pm

I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist. My own personal theory regarding the Kennedy Assassination Conspiracy is that there was a guy in a book depository window with an old bolt-action rifle. And his name was Oswald. And he acted alone.

Not much of a conspiracy, I grant you.

So now it comes to my attention that Obama’s birth certificate might have been forged. No, really.

Why? Dunno — I’m not much for conspiracies, and it’s hard to see one here. Maybe he was born on the wrong cusp or something. Mars rising, when his folks wanted Venus. (Does Mars rise?)

Anyway, it all looks very convincing, but I’m not sure what, if anything, it all means.

UPDATE: In the comments, Joe nails it with, “Well, they don’t give out birth certicates when you are born in a manger.”

The Eyes Have It

July 21st, 2008 - 3:16 pm

Hitchens sees a new wrinkle in the debate over “intelligent design.”

The Lesser Evil

July 21st, 2008 - 10:18 am

I bought a whole bunch of these bumper stickers last week, and the profits go to Soldiers’ Angels.

You can get yours at Freedom Sight — but hurry, as supplies are limited.

Getting It Wrong

July 21st, 2008 - 10:03 am

That Taliban attack in Afghanistan last week? Yeah, the media got pretty much every fact wrong.

TiVo Blues/Random Thoughts

July 21st, 2008 - 9:03 am

It’s understandable, what with cable and satellite and all, that the old TV networks have to come up with new shows year round. But do we really need So You Think You Can Hum?, Skipping With the Stars, or America’s Got Socks?

Anyway, those are the shows our DVR caught over the weekend. No wonder Obama left town.

Obama’s got himself in a bit of a box on this trip. A week before going over to Iraq, he published his new-plan-same-as-the-old-plan for getting the troops home. So what if he gets there and finds the facts on the ground don’t match the narrative? Well, I guess he’ll have to find some new facts. Maybe in Afghanistan. Or Germany. They love him in Germany.

Remember when John Kerry claimed he got the European vote? Remember how that worked out for him? Somehow, it’ll probably work out better for Obama. Despite al the flaws and ginormous egos, progress has been made: Compare Obama’s Berlin reception to the one Jesse Owens got in 1936. Makes you wonder if Michelle is more proud of modern Germany than the US.

Meanwhile, McCain is campaigning in… uh… does he even have a press bus anymore? Seriously, McCain ’08 reminds me of Dole ’96. Only I think Dole might have been younger. And less cranky. And got more media coverage.

The worst part? We’re not even in the Dead Days of August quite yet. If you think the election is moving slowly now, wait’ll everybody takes off for three weeks before the conventions. Come mid-August, I’ll be blogging about kitties or Lego or who got canned last night on Last Housepainter Standing. Set your TiVos now.

Dark Matinee

July 20th, 2008 - 2:47 pm

The Batman was the only one the three most iconic comic book superheroes (the others being Superman and Spider-Man) who had never really been done correctly on the big screen. Bats was a generic bruiser in a forgettable (and largely forgotten) serial in the 1940′s, dragged through the campy mud of the 60′s TV series, and seemingly wrecked beyond repair by a series of progressively-more-awful movies from 1989-1997. Anybody who still thinks the Tim Burton version in ’89 was any good should go back and try to watch it again today. You’ll notice very quickly that stripped of the hype it is a remarkably bad movie, made by a director whose most salient trait is utter contempt for his audience.

(I would be remiss if I didn’t stop here to note an exception, the wonderful “Batman: The Animated Series” from the early 1990′s, and its producer, Bruce Timm. Check it out on DVD.)

That was, of course, before Christopher Nolin’s 2005 “Batman Begins,” a well-intentioned reboot of the Batman origin story. “Begins” was an uneven affair, boasting great performances from a top-rate cast, as well as a plot that didn’t make much sense and dialogue so cornball it probably made George Lucas cringe. But the story’s foundation was solid, the art and direction top-notch, and the creators were obviously intent on making a serious movie around a character all too prone to unintentional comedy.

I’m happy to report that “The Dark Knight” is head and shoulders better than “Batman Begins.” The script is much stronger (although not without flaws), the story much more believable, and the production as a whole has both the grit and the sheen of a thoroughly serious production. Much has rightly been made of the late Heath Ledger’s riveting performance as The Joker, but Nolin and his brother Jonathan deserve just as much credit for writing the words Ledger hisses with such malicious abandon. It’s the smartest character dialogue in a big action movie since the original “Matrix” in 1999.

The look of the movie is close to perfect. Unlike the obviously computer-generated Gotham City of “Batman Begins,” this Gotham looks like a real place (which makes sense, as most of the movie was shot in Chicago), and I never had that “Ah, that’s a pretty CGI background” feeling that was so prevalent in the first movie. There’s also much less dependence on comic-book science. Bruce Wayne’s technology, while high, is still grounded in devices the audience both understands and recognizes from their own lives and the world around them.

It’s not a flawless movie. Like most big Hollywood flicks these days, “The Dark Knight” runs too long, through a propulsive but convoluted plot, and by the end the audience is more than a bit wrung out. As others have noted, the movie loses momentum after the big set-piece street chase halfway through, and Batman spends too much time in the last 45 minutes battering faceless henchmen. Nolin probably could have cut a good half hour of a Mob-war subplot alone and still had a solidly-constructed story, and a “Batman as 007″ sequence set in Hong Kong probably belongs in a different movie altogether.

But in the end, these are quibbles. To the enduring credit of Nolin and his gifted cast and crew, they’ve managed to produce a superhero movie worthy of the adjective serious, with no ironic modifiers required. “The Dark Knight” is certainly the best superhero movie ever made, and in this case, that is not damnation with faint praise.

Netroots in Austin, with a Gore on top

July 20th, 2008 - 1:39 pm

Name-dropping Al Gore and his call for a switch to clean, renewable energy within 10 years was enough to pull whoops of approval from the 2,000 or 3,000 marauding liberals gathered for Netroots Nation at the Austin Convention Center on Saturday morning.

So when the former vice president and Nobel Prize co-winner made a surprise — and cleverly scripted — appearance during U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s talk, it looked like the conference might turn into a faint-in.

Talk that Pelosi (who is arguably so left-leaning that her parenthetical should be D-Beijing) would have a Very Special Guest had been buzzing about the conference of liberal bloggers, pols and media types since it began Thursday (it concludes today).

Also in Austin this weekend, the Defending the American Dream Summit is happening:

Texas conservatives convening in Austin today to discuss taxes, spending and the Internet can only marvel at Netroots Nation, a conglomeration of liberal bloggers and Democratic activists meeting here at the same time.

Nationally, there is nothing for conservatives like Netroots Nation, and Texas Democrats dominate the digital political space as they try to pry Republicans from the levers of power.

David Benzion, a political consultant, former talk radio producer and publisher of the Houston-based Lone Star Times (lonestartimes.com), offers a simple explanation for the smaller conservative audience: Republicans are in power in Texas, and until 2006, they controlled Congress as well as the White House.

“Blogging is attractive to dissent and guerrilla activity,” he said. “If you are out of power, blogging is attractive. If you are in power, then you’re into governing.”

Uh huh. They are all probably converging here for this.

UPDATE: Via Karl at protein wisdom:

It turns out that the denizens of the Daily Kos are just as humorless as the presidential candidate they support. Newsbusters notes that the Kos Kidz were able to bully the Austin American-Statesman into pulling a mildly satirical article on the Netroots Nation conclave in Austin. Apparently, some could not find the humor in a piece referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as ”arguably so left-leaning that her parenthetical should be D-Beijing.” Or could not chuckle over the sight of New York Times columnist Paul Krugman “wearing, as if to galvanize stereotype, what appeared to be Birkenstocks” to a panel “that was essentially about how the media weren’t liberal enough.” (BTW, Newsbusters also has a copy of the full article.)

I would find this troubling, if I had any respect left for mainstream journalism.

GI Jo, R.I.P.

July 18th, 2008 - 6:26 pm

Jo Stafford, the honey-voiced band singer who starred in radio and television and sold more than 25 million records with her ballads and folksongs, died Wednesday. She was 90.

Stafford’s records of “I’ll Walk Alone,” “I’ll Be Seeing You,” “I Don’t Want to Walk Without You” and other sentimental songs struck the hearts of servicemen far from home in both World War II and the Korean War. They awarded her the title of “GI Jo.”

Do what I think (not what I do)

July 17th, 2008 - 10:47 pm

Lord Gore, thou hast again spoken. From thine Associated Press dost I quote thy mighty words:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Just as John F. Kennedy set his sights on the moon, Al Gore is challenging the nation to produce every kilowatt of electricity through wind, sun and other Earth-friendly energy sources within 10 years, an audacious goal he hopes the next president will embrace.

Called an alarmist by conservatives, Gore has made combatting global warming his signature issue, a campaign that has been recognized worldwide — from an Academy Award to a Nobel Prize. He portrayed Thursday’s speech as the latest and most important phase in his effort to build public opinion in favor of alternative fuels.

He knows politicians fear to act unless voters are willing to sacrifice — and demand new fuels.

“I hope to contribute to a new political environment in this country that will allow the next president to do what I think the next president is going to think is the right thing to do,” Gore said. “But the people have to play a part.” He likened his challenge to Kennedy’s pledge in May 1961 to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade.

“But the people have to play a part.”
We do hear thee, president lord Gore.

Update: And now there’s this.

The American Physical Society, an organization representing nearly 50,000 physicists, has reversed its stance on climate change and is now proclaiming that many of its members disbelieve in human-induced global warming. The APS is also sponsoring public debate on the validity of global warming science. The leadership of the society had previously called the evidence for global warming “incontrovertible.”

Time is the great equalizer.

h/t: Lucianne.

Mail Bag

July 16th, 2008 - 12:37 pm

This just arrived from Jockey. I feel sick.

Programming Note

July 16th, 2008 - 9:23 am

This week’s PJM Political airs on XM Radio’s channel 130 today at 1:00 PM Eastern/10:00 AM Pacific. I’m the new host, plus James Lileks, Charles Johnson, econblogger Tom Blumer and Washington Times movie critic Christian Toto.

If you don’t get XM Radio, you can download the podcast tomorrow.

Faster, Please

July 16th, 2008 - 8:56 am

A 60 times faster internet? Bring it on!

But until that “last mile” problem gets solved, we still won’t be renting true hi-def movies-on-demand any time soon.

You Thought It Too

July 15th, 2008 - 9:09 pm

You’ve got to respect Glenn Reynolds for his years-long — and probably unpopular — crusade against prison rape.

But I’ve got to ask: Glenn, ya think you could lay off for the next 30 months or so?

As for this guy, don’t even ask.

Caption Contest

July 15th, 2008 - 8:31 pm

You are here, so am I
Maybe millions of people go by
But they all disappear from view
And I only have eyes for you

The Sneering Man’s Magazine

July 15th, 2008 - 1:12 pm

Hitchens on The New Yorker‘s Obama cartoon cover:

Instead, you have sophisticates in the metropolis laughing at a portrayal of the fears of the lowly white hicks. This set-up could itself be the subject of a satire, but probably at some other time and in some other magazine. Mr Blitt himself could hardly have been more anxiously literal, contacting the liberal “Huffington Post” blog to assure them that “depicting the concept would show it as the fear-mongering ridiculousness it is”. Let us by all means be certain that there is no ambiguity about our satires.

Satire works only when it’s ambiguous. The ambiguity forces the reader think, “Could they really mean that?” Great satire makes the reader wonder, “Could I ever really think that?”

The New Yorker cover isn’t great satire. It’s not even good satire. At best, it’s cheap sarcasm – if you’ll forgive the redundancy. Blitt’s art merely encourages you to sneer, as Hitchens noted, at the “lowly white hicks.”

Yeah, That’s the Ticket

July 15th, 2008 - 12:17 pm

Q: What did Denver City Councilman Doug Linkhart have to say, when he heard Democratic Convention protestors might throw feces on police?

A: “Protesters are getting pretty sophisticated.”

If hurling buckets of crap is sophisticated, I’d hate to see what would happen if they ever stooped to anything crude.

(H/T to the good professor.)