As a religious person, I believe some weird shit, but I just don't believe that in 50 to 100 years, humans are going to fuse with machines and be a trillion times more intelligent. I. don't. think. so. If that were in the cards, I think we would have already developed a cure for back pain, lo-cal ice cream that tastes good, an automatic way to both write and grade exams, a cure for baldness, and television worth watching. And yet, no, we have not.
I was reading one of these "the singularity is coming" guys the other day, and he said in the future, we will have wireless modems planted in our heads so we can be plugged into the internet at all times. . . . Do I really want the thought planted in my brain every five minutes that my penis needs to be bigger or I need to tell some Nigerian my bank account and social security number?
I think if we could ask the great coming post-human intelligence whether the singularity is coming, It would say, uh, no, I don't think so. But do I have a low interest re-fi for you.
You'll know the Singularity is here, Tom, when your penis really does start getting larger . . . .
posted at 09:49 PM by Glenn Reynolds
MARTYRDOM AS ART, and plans for world conquest. Trey Jackson has video and a transcript of a speech by Iranian President-Elect Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad.
A MAJOR SUCCESS for Belmont University Prof. Jeff Cornwall, and for Bill Hobbs. Congratulations!
posted at 03:05 PM by Glenn Reynolds
RICHARD POSNER has some thoughts on technology, markets, and the news media. This bit is likely to get the most attention around the blogosphere:
The latest, and perhaps gravest, challenge to the journalistic establishment is the blog. Journalists accuse bloggers of having lowered standards. But their real concern is less high-minded - it is the threat that bloggers, who are mostly amateurs, pose to professional journalists and their principal employers, the conventional news media. A serious newspaper, like The Times, is a large, hierarchical commercial enterprise that interposes layers of review, revision and correction between the reporter and the published report and that to finance its large staff depends on advertising revenues and hence on the good will of advertisers and (because advertising revenues depend to a great extent on circulation) readers. These dependences constrain a newspaper in a variety of ways. But in addition, with its reputation heavily invested in accuracy, so that every serious error is a potential scandal, a newspaper not only has to delay publication of many stories to permit adequate checking but also has to institute rules for avoiding error - like requiring more than a single source for a story or limiting its reporters' reliance on anonymous sources - that cost it many scoops.
I think that Posner understates individual bloggers' reputational concerns. However, he's right about this part:
The charge by mainstream journalists that blogging lacks checks and balances is obtuse. The blogosphere has more checks and balances than the conventional media; only they are different. The model is Friedrich Hayek's classic analysis of how the economic market pools enormous quantities of information efficiently despite its decentralized character, its lack of a master coordinator or regulator, and the very limited knowledge possessed by each of its participants.
In effect, the blogosphere is a collective enterprise - not 12 million separate enterprises, but one enterprise with 12 million reporters, feature writers and editorialists, yet with almost no costs. It's as if The Associated Press or Reuters had millions of reporters, many of them experts, all working with no salary for free newspapers that carried no advertising.
UPDATE: A reader who -- I'm guessing from his anonymous email and fire-spitting anger -- is probably from a Big Media outfit points out that InstaPundit has ads. Yes, and I don't see that as quite as important as Posner does. But InstaPundit didn't have ads for most of its existence, and doesn't need them to publish now. And plenty of blogs doing first-rate reporting of a sort that rivals any Big Media outfit -- like Michael Yon's or Faces From the Front, or India Uncut don't. For now, at least, the ad-tail isn't wagging the dog. This is different in the newspaper business -- when did you last see a local paper do a big expose on car dealers or grocery stores?
posted at 12:08 PM by Glenn Reynolds
READER JIM HERD notes this excellent review for the new Nikon D50. And the price is certainly right!
Moderate Moslem voices are now being heard, which is a major victory in the war on terror. Since the emergence of radical Islamic terrorism in the 1990s, one of the major failures of religious and political leadership in the world's Moslem community has been their apparent unwillingness to openly criticize fellow Moslems. While this reticence is not unknown in the leadership of other religions plagued by radical extremists, given the strength and lethality of Moslem radicals, this failure to openly confront the extremists has led to considerable public outcry in the non-Moslem world. Of late, however, there are indications that Islamic religious leaders are becoming increasingly aware of how their failure to speak up has served only to encourage the radicals, while further discrediting Islam in the world at large. For some time now Afghan and Iraqi clerics been speaking up, often at considerable personal risk. By ones estimate some 200 Moslem clerics have been slain in the past year or so because they spoke out. And of late, other voices have been raised as well.
Read the whole thing. It's a far cry from where we want to be, but it's still substantial progress.
The public opinion poll was conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, hardly a bastion of neocon zealotry. (It's co-chaired by Madeleine Albright.) Over the last three years, Pew surveys have charted surging anti-Americanism in response to the invasion of Iraq and other actions of the Bush administration. But its most recent poll — conducted in May, with 17,000 respondents in 17 countries — also found evidence that widespread antipathy is abating.
The percentage of people holding a favorable impression of the United States increased in Indonesia (+23 points), Lebanon (+15), Pakistan (+2) and Jordan (+16). It also went up in such non-Muslim nations as France, Germany, Russia and India.
What accounts for this shift? The answer varies by country, but analysts point to waning public anger over the invasion of Iraq, gratitude for the massive U.S. tsunami relief effort and growing conviction that the U.S. is serious about promoting democracy.
There is also increasing aversion to America's enemies, even in the Islamic world. The Pew poll found that "nearly three-quarters of Moroccans and roughly half of those in Pakistan, Turkey and Indonesia see Islamic extremism as a threat to their countries." . . . Muslim opinion also challenges jihadist orthodoxy that proclaims that giving power to the people, rather than to mullahs, is "un-Islamic." The latest Pew poll found "large and growing majorities in Morocco (83%), Lebanon (83%), Jordan (80%) and Indonesia (77%) — as well as pluralities in Turkey (48%) and Pakistan (43%) — [that] say democracy can work well and is not just for the West."
That's exactly what President Bush has been saying. Though his actions and rhetoric have been denounced as "unrealistic" and "extremist" by his American and European critics, it turns out that Muslims welcome it.
That's good news. But it also means that the United States will have to keep walking the walk, as well as talking the talk, on democracy.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Chip Homme sends this link to a Morocco Times story on the subject:
Declining support for terror in a number of the Muslim countries surveyed tracks with previously reported dramatic increases in favorable views of the United States.
The US is viewed more favorably by people under age 35 than by older people in Morocco, Lebanon, Pakistan and Turkey. As America's image has improved in Morocco over the past year, more young people are giving the US favorable marks (53%) than Moroccans ages 35 and older (45%).
A similar generational gap is seen in Lebanon, where the percentage rating the US favorably has increased from 27% to 42% since 2003. A sizable generational difference is also seen in both Pakistan and Turkey, where overall views of America remain predominantly negative, with younger people 10-to-12 points more likely to give a favorable rating than their seniors.
The polling also found that in most Muslim countries women were less likely to express an opinion of the US than were men, but when they did, they held a somewhat more positive view.
Read the whole thing. We shouldn't make too much of this -- opinion is fickle, after all -- but it certainly seems like good news, and it's a welcome antidote to the "we're making everyone hate us" line of argument.
This is one to watch - there is a low level cold war developing between Central Europe's largest democracy and Eastern Europe's last remaining Soviet holdover quasi-dictatorship. . . .
Says Poland's deputy Foreign Minister, Jan Truszczynski: "Belarus is one of the last bastions of authoritarianism in Europe. The European Union will have to deal with these crackdowns in a more effective way. There should be some form of sanctions imposed on the leadership, including a travel ban."
Poland is not happy, not just because it doesn't appreciate a crackdown on its minority in Belarus, but because it historically sees itself as the leader of the pro-democracy forces in the region. Poland has played an important international role in support of Ukraine's Orange Revolution last year; the presence of a Soviet throwback on its eastern border offends Poland's sense of historical progress.
Not much movement from the EU yet, but that could change.
TOUR THE INDIAN BLOGOSPHERE: This week's Blog Mela is up! This one's a bit more elaborately constructed than most.
posted at 10:03 PM by Glenn Reynolds
MICHAEL YON reports from Iraq: " I keep running across American troops who are not Americans. Many of these soldiers and Marines are working towards attaining U.S. citizenship while in uniform, under fire, in Iraq."
posted at 09:47 PM by Glenn Reynolds
BLOG BITES MAN: Here's more on the shakeups at The Guardian that I mentioned below.
posted at 07:54 PM by Glenn Reynolds
CLOUDBURST MUMBAI is a blog devoted to reporting and resources concerning the recent flooding in Mumbai.
The question then becomes this: When is it appropriate for a minority of senators—perhaps as few as one—to prevent an up-or-down vote on the nominee by filibustering? The common response is that a filibuster would be proper if the nominee's "views are out of the mainstream." Again, that raises the question that I posed yesterday: Who and by what standard is the "mainstream" measured? I suppose that, as a practical matter, the 60th senator, whose vote is needed to end a filibuster under the Senate's rules, gets to determine what is or is not mainstream. But if one senator thinks that the Constitution requires workers to own the means of production, and the nominee disagrees, is that senator's decision to pronounce the nominee "out of the mainstream" and filibuster something that should be celebrated, instead of criticized? . . . I'm not so sure that the filibuster, particularly as it has been wielded in recent years by members of both parties, isn't overdue for some rough treatment.
Read the whole thing. Jim Lindgren, meanwhile, looks at the less-elevated questions posed by the Roberts nomination:
Which of the two leading left-wing judicial appointment watchdog operations will gain credibility with the potential base opposing Bush's judicial nominees: the Alliance for Justice or the People for the American Way? Or will a new player, MoveOn.org, steal their thunder by beating them to punch, as may already be happening? These organizations face credibility issues -- not just with Senators, the press, and the informed public -- but with more ideologically motivated donors and joiners as well.
posted at 04:29 PM by Glenn Reynolds
EVE GARRARD: "The really interesting thing about the Alibhai-Brown piece lies elsewhere: in it, and in the dismissive response it provokes in some of us, we can see a deep clash, at some subterranean level, of great tectonic plates in our moral thinking."
A giant patch of frozen water has been pictured nestled within an unnamed impact crater on Mars. The photographs were taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera on board Mars Express, the European Space Agency probe which is exploring the planet.
Some thoughts on what this might mean, here and here.
posted at 02:14 PM by Glenn Reynolds
MY EARLIER MENTION of Ray Kurzweil's new book led people to ask for more. Well, I really want to save specifics for the review -- but I'll note that this book is far more densely documented and closely argued (which is not to say densely written -- it's quite readable) than, say, The Age of Spiritual Machines. In the earlier books, Kurzweil was writing mostly for his fellow geeks (like, er, me); here I think he's more interested in persuading skeptics.
posted at 02:11 PM by Glenn Reynolds
FROM PLAME TO BOLTON TO THE ECONOMY: Tom Maguire is on a roll.
As investigations proliferate into the United Nations Oil-for-Food scandal, one of the more intriguing mysteries involves a former French diplomat with a direct link to the U.N.’s executive suite: Jean-Bernard Merimee. . . .
Nonetheless, the Merimee-Saddam connection could spell yet more trouble for Secretary-General Annan, who from 1997-2003 presided over the management of Oil-for-Food, and is already close to the scandal on several fronts. . . .
Until this week, Merimee figured on the U.N. Web site’s list of “Special and Personal Representatives and Envoys of the Secretary-General,” with the rank of Under Secretary-General. Following a query this past Tuesday into Merimee’s whereabouts, the United Nations quietly removed his name from the list.
Read the whole thing.
posted at 01:10 PM by Glenn Reynolds
PERHAPS IF HOLLYWOOD HAD MORE PEOPLE who had been in the military, it would be able to make military stuff that doesn't suck. But judging from various and sundry negative reviews for the new FX show Over There, they're not pulling that off at the moment.
Maybe they should try just reading more blogs from Iraq. Might produce some better story ideas.
UPDATE: J.D. Johannes emails:
I haven't seen an episode of 'Over There' yet.
From the trailers available on the website I can tell that the drama is well produced, brilliantly filmed and completely devoid of reality.
The dialog is wrong, the tactics are wrong, the composition of the unit is
I'll watch the encore on Saturday eve and then Fisk it.
Kabuli, who blogs in English as Afghan Lord under a pseudonym in order to protect himself, has received numerous threats posted to his blog from the same IP address which belongs - shockingly - to the BBC. One of them, which Kabuli emailed to Global Voices, asks: “Do you think I do not know you?” Then it continues on to threaten: “There were a number of people like you, who did not remain alive. They were all buried in graves. You have to be taken off from this land so that better human beings could take your place. For, you are dirty.”
In a break with President Bush, the Senate Republican leader, Bill Frist, has decided to support a bill to expand federal financing for embryonic stem cell research, a move that could push it closer to passage and force a confrontation with the White House, which is threatening to veto the measure. . . .
"While human embryonic stem cell research is still at a very early stage, the limitations put in place in 2001 will, over time, slow our ability to bring potential new treatments for certain diseases," Mr. Frist says, according to a text of the speech provided by his office Thursday evening. "Therefore, I believe the president's policy should be modified."
Whatever may or may not have been known about Aslam’s membership of HuT, it remains the case that someone subscribing to its wholly unacceptable platform could find a berth at the Guardian which was perfectly comfortable about publishing his views -- because they fitted into its own general view of the world. The horror when it discovered that these views emanated from a HuT member was undoubtedly genuine, because they are genuinely horrified by HuT. And what that surely tells us is that the Guardian really doesn’t grasp that its view of the world is as extreme and unacceptable as it is.
VIRGINIA POSTREL: "Just in case there are any students who still read books, the Apple Store wants them to know that paper technology is obsolete. After all, if it's not online, it's not important. Right?"
TOM MAGUIRE: "The NY Times finally discovers Walter Pincus of the WaPo, a mere three weeks after we were hollering about him. And eventually, the Times will discover Google, or Lexis-Nexis, which will introduce more certainty to their reporting."
A common question I get from people disturbed by these kinds of cases is, "What can we do?" Well, here's one thing the average citizen can do: Serve when you're called to jury duty, and while there, refuse to enforce unjust laws. If a defendant is guilty of harming someone else, certainly, throw the book at him. But if he's guilty of violating a bad law, or if you feel the law has been unjustly applied to him, by all means, come back with "not guilty," no matter what the judge, the prosecutor, or the evidence says.
Not only is this your right as a juror, some would say it's your obligation.
It turns out that a month ago, the United States tried to apprehend Haroon Rashid Aswat, the terrorist suspected of involvement in the London bombings and just arrested in Zambia, only to have the British Government say no.
PREMATURE WITHDRAWAL? David Adesnik rains scorn on claims that the Bush Administration is planning a cut-and-run in Iraq. He's right to do so, of course.
I suspect that there's a rather complicated dance going on, with the U.S. reassuring various Iraqi factions that we'll be there long enough, while also reassuring them that we won't be there forever -- and making clear to them that they shouldn't plan on us being there forever.
One question is where U.S. troops will go from there: Syria? Iran? Saudi Arabia? Or elsewhere? I suspect we want to keep people guessing about that, too.
LONDON - Anti-terrorist officers arrested nine men in dawn raids Thursday in connection with the botched July 21 attacks on London's transit system, bringing to 20 the number of people police have in custody, including one of the alleged bombers. . . .
Blair said the botched attacks, in which four bombs only partially detonated on three subway trains and a central London bus, was not a sign the terrorists had been weakened in any way.
"This is not the B team. These weren't the amateurs. They made a mistake. They only made one mistake, and we're very, very lucky," he said.
Blair said he was confident that police would find the bombers — as well as whoever backed them.
"The carnage that would have occurred had those bombs gone off would have at least been equivalent of those on July 7, and therefore it is absolutely imperative that we find those responsible," Blair said.
Residents in Tooting said police had arrested three Turkish men who worked at and lived above a fast food restaurant selling halal burgers — made with meat slaughtered according to Islamic dietary laws.
The government continues to investigate, arrest and prosecute Islamic terrorists. But religious conflicts continue as well. More moderate Moslem leaders, while helping the government by preaching against the Islamic radicals, also want government help to stem the growth of Christianity. Missionaries, both Indonesian and foreign, have been successful in converting an increasing number of Moslem Indonesians. The Islamic clergy want the government to intervene. By law, only five religions are allowed in Indonesia, and the government has a tradition of getting involved in religious affairs. While 85 percent of Indonesians are Moslem, most of the remainder are Christian. On some islands, the population is half, or more, Christian. On those islands, many Moslems see Christianity as a more "modern" religion. Christian clergy and missionaries are generally better educated than their Moslem counterparts, and the Christians tend to be more successful economically as well.
Plus there's the lack of exhortations to suicide bombing, which many probably see as a plus. Those "more moderate" leaders might want to work with that.
posted at 08:10 AM by Glenn Reynolds
MEDIENKRITIK REPORTS that Der Spiegel is being rather selective in what it translates into its English edition: "On the whole, SPIEGEL's 'English Site' is noticeably less strident in terms of its anti-American, anti-British tone when compared to its German-language counterpart. Few of the magazine's harshest articles, (the sort that we frequently post about here on Davids Medienkritik), ever make it onto the 'English Site.' Now why might that be? Is SPON afraid to tell English-language readers what it really thinks of them?"
UPDATE: Link was bad before. Fixed now. Sorry!
posted at 08:02 AM by Glenn Reynolds
A PACK, NOT A HERD: Interesting roundup of efforts to organize ordinary citizens to watch for terrorist activity. Seems like a good idea to me.
SIGH. The shuttle fleet's grounded again. California Yankee has a roundup, with photos. And here's much more, including a reminder that the foam that's causing the problems was reformulated for environmental reasons, which seems to have been a mistake. Meanwhile, the Russians are offering a $100 Million flight to the Moon, which has to be kind of embarrassing.
Meanwhile, Rand Simberg offers useful perspective. And on a more positive note, there's this:
British entrepreneur, Sir Richard Branson, has teamed up with aerospace designer, Burt Rutan of Scaled Composites to form a new aerospace production company. The new firm will build a fleet of commercial suborbital spaceships and launch aircraft.
Called The Spaceship Company, the new entity will manufacture launch aircraft, various spacecraft and support equipment and market those products to spaceliner operators. Clients include launch customer, Virgin Galactic—formed by Branson to handle space tourist flights.
posted at 07:43 AM by Glenn Reynolds
July 27, 2005
ROGER SIMON: "It's sign of our media times that the lofty Guardian has seen fit to attack the blog of a 'mere' Dartmouth undergraduate."
A NEGATIVE REVIEW for the Kinsley experiment at the Los Angeles Times. I think Jeff Jarvis would have been a better choice. Kinsley's a very smart guy, but although he tried to embrace the Web, he didn't understand it well enough to make things work. That's funny, since he was a very successful editor at Slate, which is, of course, a web publication. But Slate was always modeled on The New Republic, really. It was never an effort to embrace the Web except in terms of distribution.
posted at 05:40 PM by Glenn Reynolds
PLAME UPDATE: Tom Maguire looks at headscratchers, jaw-droppers, and buried bombshells in today's reports.
EUGENE VOLOKH: "Does Rhode Island State Judge Stephen Fortunato not know the Supreme Court's Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, or does he just not care? Or does he just think that lower court judges should ignore Supreme Court precedents?"
WHY HAVEN'T I BEEN BLOGGING ABOUT The FairTax Book by Neal Boortz and John Linder? Er, because I don't have a copy. And taxblogging isn't a big item of mine. Maybe TaxProf will post a review, when it comes out.
I'VE PUBLISHED ADVICE TO ASPIRING LAW PROFESSORS BEFORE, and with the deadline to get your AALS F.A.R. forms in almost here (if you don't know what that means, go here first), a former student who's now on the market recommended that I link to some of my earlier posts on how the process works. Okay. Here is a short summary of the process, and here is a very important thing to avoid when applying for law teaching jobs. And here is my reflection on how the hiring process is growing less elitist.
The biggest things that candidates usually don't understand: (1) Most schools are hiring in a particular subject area, e.g., Torts or Property. That's the first thing people screen resumes for, so it pays to list specific courses that will catch their eye. (E.g., "Torts" is better than "any first year course.") (2) Your resume is one of many; make sure it's easy for people to read, and easy for them to grasp the important bits like class rank, publications, and references. When people have to plow through hundreds of resumes in a short period, it's easy for them to miss things if they're not obvious. (3) People notice time gaps -- if you took a year off to go backpacking in Namibia, indicate that somehow; (4) Publications are important, even if they're not in elite law journals. If you wrote the Foreword to the Supreme Court issue of the Harvard Law Review, that's certainly better than a short piece in The Business Lawyer -- but everybody realizes that people who aren't academics yet seldom publish in elite law journals, and evidence of writing anywhere is better than no evidence at all. A depressing proportion of new hires (even at elite law schools) never publish anything; having published before makes you a safer bet.
One other difference: I remember that when I was a candidate I felt searchingly examined. Now that I'm on the other end, I feel that we know shockingly little about the people we hire. The job is a big deal to you as a candidate, but since even large law schools hire relatively few people, and keep them for quite a while, the stakes are high for the schools, too. A bad hire can really make life miserable for a faculty, so if they want to know a lot about you, it's not just because they're running an inquisition.
SEVERAL YEARS AGO at the Yale Blog Conference, I remarked that video / computer games got way too little attention in relation to the importance they have in our culture and economy. That's still true, and I should pay more attention to the subject, but that would require me playing lots of games -- but while I have nothing against games, I spend much too much time in front of a glowing screen already.
But The Escapist magazine is covering the subject, so I don't have to. Check 'em out.
This is a column I don't want to write - we in the media business have so many critics already that I hardly need to pipe in as well. But after more than a year of seething frustration, I feel I have to. . . .
I'm outraged that one of my Times colleagues, Judith Miller, is in jail for protecting her sources. But if we journalists are to demand a legal privilege to protect our sources, we need to show that we serve the public good - which means covering genocide as seriously as we cover, say, Tom Cruise. In some ways, we've gone downhill: the American news media aren't even covering the Darfur genocide as well as we covered the Armenian genocide in 1915. . . . If only Michael Jackson's trial had been held in Darfur.
Indeed. Covering this kind of thing seriously would make journalism seem, and be, more serious.
SO I PUT UP A POST on why I think an Iraqi civil war would be bad, but is unlikely, and Bradford Plumer at the Mother Jones blog accuses me of happily "daydreaming about a possible Sunni-Shiite civil war in Iraq."
Well no, not like the MoJo folks daydream about worker control of the means of production. More like, you know, speculating on what could happen if things went wrong (hint: where I say that a civil war would be "very bad," that's because I think it would, you know, be very bad).
But, to be fair, the post does open: "Okay, this is going to get shrill." We were warned!
UPDATE: Plumer has posted a very handsome apology. My point on the "brought it on themselves" quote (and the original point by Westhawk, whom I was quoting, I think) was that the Arab world would see the Sunnis as having brought things upon themselves, vitiating Al Qaeda efforts to start a larger conflagration. I thought that was clear, but just in case, well, now it is.
posted at 08:10 AM by Glenn Reynolds
July 26, 2005
GROWING DISCONTENT IN CUBA: "Authorities have responded by mobilising rapid deployment brigades of militant supporters to disperse pockets of protest with batons." This will continue until morale improves!
UPDATE: Related item here: "possibly the largest defection of Cubans in American history."
ANOTHER UPDATE: Here are pictures of the rapid deployment brigades in action. It's the sort of stirring defense of socialism that the Mother Jones folks daydream about!
posted at 10:50 PM by Glenn Reynolds
SUNDAY, I complained about a lack of media coverage of Egyptian anti-terrorist protests. Not everyone ignored them, though: Here's a story from NPR's Morning Edition on Monday. And here's a story from today's Guardian on Karim Elsahy's Cairo antiterror protest.
Karim notes a followup protest planned for Friday -- plenty of time for Big Media folks to send reporters and cameras!
There's also a link to a charity for the victims of the Sharm El Sheikh bombing.
I came up with a few questions that I'd like to see asked during Roberts's confirmation hearings.
* To what extent and under what conditions, if any, should the Supreme Court look to foreign law for guidance in interpreting the U.S. Constitution?
* What role should stare decisis play in constitutional adjudication?
* To what extent can the President make foreign policy independently of Congress, and can the President's foreign policy—not otherwise undertaken pursuant to congressional authorization or embodied in a treaty or executive agreement—preempt state and local laws that express a different policy?
Are there any cutting edge issues that you'd like to see brought up at the confirmation hearings? Am I being too tough on Senator Schumer?
The enemy in Iraq does not appear to be weakening; if anything, they are becoming smarter, more complicated and deadlier. But this does not mean they are winning; to imply that getting smarter and deadlier equates to winning, is fallacious. Most accounts of the situation in Iraq focus on enemy "successes" (if success is re-defined as annihiliation of civility), while redacting the increasing viability and strength of the Iraqi government, which clearly is outpacing the insurgency.
The Mosul police are now strong enough to launch successful undercover operations, and have been fanning out across Mosul and surrounding villages, snooping and listening for snippets. On July 15th, police working undercover in a village Northwest of Mosul heard a group of villagers talking about a weapons cache, but the location was not mentioned. Iraqi forces locked down the village, searched and found a weapons depot from Syria into Mosul. Iraqi police also found and rescued the 28 year-old woman I mentioned briefly in the last dispatch. She was the wife of a Mosul journalist, and had been kidnapped and held for ransom by members of a beheading cell. After the village search, police hauled four men to a Mosul station for interrogation, and alerted the Americans.
Read the whole thing.
posted at 03:30 PM by Glenn Reynolds
TECH BLEG: If I have an audio CD-R of unknown provenance, can I extract information about the machine that burned it that might help me track it down? If the music was downloaded from an Internet site, will any useful information survive? Where would I go to find out more about that?
posted at 03:01 PM by Glenn Reynolds
VERIZON EVDO UPDATE: I'm getting "Broadband Access" in Knoxville now -- two different places, both at about 350kbps according to the CNET bandwidth tester. I've heard reports of the broadband coming and going in this area over the past few weeks; I hope they'll roll it out for good soon.
posted at 02:36 PM by Glenn Reynolds
GRAND ROUNDS IS UP, for all your healthcare and medical-blogging needs.
posted at 02:17 PM by Glenn Reynolds
I'M READING JESSE WALKER'S Rebels on the Air: An Alternative History of Radio in America. Very interesting stuff. I suppose there's an argument that podcasting and satellite radio are making this less important than it used to be, but I think that neglects the geographic / local aspects of broadcast radio. It's not obsolete, just different.
At first glance, NASA's decision to possibly launch even if a sensor glitch reappears suggests that the space agency was wrong two weeks ago to postpone the launch. However, the two decisions actually are very different, and indicate how much NASA's safety culture has improved.
The House Friday overwhelmingly endorsed President Bush's vision to send man back to the moon and eventually on to Mars as it passed a bill to set NASA policy for the next two years.
The bill passed 383-15 after a collegial debate in which lawmakers stressed their commitment to not just Bush's ambitious space exploration plans but also to traditional NASA programs such as science and aeronautics.
Keep this between us, but would a violent-but-short Shiite vs. Sunni civil war (in which the U.S. was not involved) be the worst thing that could happen? Just askin'! It might be the essential predicate to a rough ethnic and religious balance of power. Or it might produce a stable, de facto partition.
Well, it might not be the worst thing that could happen (from our perspective), but it would be very bad. However, from the Sunnis' perspective, it would be the worst thing that could happen, since they are growing increasingly unpopular as sponsors of / collaborators with terror attacks through Iraq -- and nobody liked them that much anyway. They're also growing militarily and economically weaker. Al Qaeda types like Zarqawi think that a massacre of Sunnis would galvanize the rest of the Arab (or at least Sunni) world, but that's got to look less likely as time passes and as Al Qaeda gets less popular inside and outside Iraq.
As WestHawk observes: "A full-blown sectarian civil war in Iraq would be bad for all, but it would be positively lethal for the Sunni position in Iraq. At the limit, they would be ethnically cleansed from the country. . . . It would be ugly to watch and bad for America's reputation, but few could say, in this scenario, that the Sunnis had not brought it on themselves." The Sunnis, I suspect, realize this, and old Ba'athist fantasies of omnipotence seem to be fading (Chemical Ali is said to be singing like a canary, along with several other Saddam cronies). If this is true, we'll see plenty of traditional brinksmanship but the Sunnis will always wind up making a deal, because the consequences of not making a deal will be too horrific. What's more, if they're smart, they'll recognize that holding out too long makes for a worse deal, as their position declines.
That's how it looks to me, anyway. Am I right? I don't know. I'm no Juan Cole or anything, but I could still be wrong.
"What, you didn't know he was a Mormon? He is. I wondered why you didn't ask about his Mormon faith and its possible impact on the election. Only one wife though, as far as I know -- but then you can never be too sure with those Mormons,, wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Just kidding, everyone knows that Mormons have given that up. Most of them, anyway. Sadly, some people are still prejudiced against those Mormons and their polygamous ways. But I'll never make an issue of Mormonism, because that would be wrong. Forget I even brought the whole Mormonism thing up. The Mormonism is a nonissue, after all. Who cares whether someone is a Mormon in this day and age? Not me. And I suspect that no more than a possibly winning margin tiny percentage of voters would be prejudiced enough against Mormons to vote based on something as silly as someone being a Mormon. This is the 21st Century, after all, where things like someone being a Mormon just shouldn't matter."
posted at 07:58 AM by Glenn Reynolds
THIS WEEK'S COTILLION is posted, with a film noir theme.
ADVISE AND CONSENT: Over at Legal Affairs,Brannon Denning and Erwin Chemerinsky are debating judicial confirmations, and in particular (at the moment at least) what sorts of questions Senators should ask, and what sorts nominees should, and shouldn't, answer.
UPDATE: I should also link the latest Blawg Review, a carnival of lawbloggers.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Tony Mauro looks at Roberts' likely impact on the other Justices if he joins the court. Mauro thinks his measured rhetoric and lack of stridency will enhance his impact. Indeed.
But is it really a harmless situation that now anyone with Internet access can find out, for free, your age; for a few dollars, your address; and for just a few dollars more, a complete background check? Beyond issues raised by the ChoicePoint scandal, the MasterCard fiasco, and general identity theft, why is complete public access to the particular location of exactly where you live perfectly legal? . . . There's no point anymore, for instance, to defense attorney arguments that Megan's Law is invasive because it allows worried citizens to find out the addresses of sex offenders. Sex offenders can now find out where worried citizens live and they don't need any special law to do it.
Two years ago—and again a few days ago—Glenn Reynolds took a lot of abuse for calling the Plame Affair "'too complicated' for me to feel I really understand it". More recently, Duncan "Atrios" Black took rather less abuse (none) for expressing confusion about the matter.
That's the price I pay for being ahead of the curve!
ROBERTS AND THE COMMERCE CLAUSE: Supposedly, the Democratic questioning of Roberts is going to focus mainly on his views of the Commerce Clause. That would interest me, since I'd like to know those myself, especially in light of the Supreme Court's recent retreat from its holdings in Lopez and Morrison that -- until this term -- suggested it was taking the notion of constitutional limits on the commerce power.
Here's a paper I wrote for the Cato Institute back before the Lopez decision, spelling out why this is important. And here's an article I wrote for the Vanderbilt Law Review (with the catchy title "Is Democracy Like Sex?") that spells out the important ways that federalism and limited government help to prevent the onset of what Jonathan Rauch calls "Demosclerosis."
Lower courts were never very enthusiastic about implementing Lopez and Morrison, though. Brannon Denning and I looked at how those decisions fared in two articles surveying their reception in the Courts of Appeals and District Courts. The subtitle in this one, from the Wisconsin Law Review, tells the story: "What if the Supreme Court Held a Constitutional Revolution and Nobody Came?" This later installment noted that things were beginning to turn around, but that seems less likely to continue, post-Raich, unless Bush appoints people who are serious about enumerated powers and limited government, which -- given that Bush himself doesn't seem terribly serious that way -- seems doubtful.
SCOTT BURGESS'S DAILY ABLUTION has achieved fame in Britain by putting The Guardian in an embarrassing spot. Burgess has comments regarding the Guardian's over-the-top response on his blog, here.
Really, The Guardian has done itself far more harm than Burgess did.
posted at 12:27 PM by Glenn Reynolds
ROBIN GIVHAN of the Washington Post has inspired James Lileks to write about fashion. " I’ll tell you this: when it comes to dressing the kids, it’s quite possible they look at parents who get on airplanes in flip-flops with 12-year old daughters who have the word JUICY spelled out on their behinds, and they actually do think they’re better than those parents."
LAST NIGHT I FINISHED Peter Hamilton's Pandora's Star, which was recommended by many readers. I thought it was pretty good: It's got AIs, wormholes, interesting aliens, conspiracies, rejuvenation politics, and more all mixed together with interesting characters and events. My main complaint is that Hamilton's future looks too much like the present, given all the exotic technologies that he sweeps into the mix, but that's the difference between science fiction and prognostication.
Anyway, I liked it enough that I immediately preordered the sequel, which is probably the best indication. What's sad is how long it took me to finish the book -- a measure of just how busy I am with writing, instead of reading for pleasure, alas.
Hey, it's not like I have a real life or anything! Just a book with a November deadline.
posted at 10:47 AM by Glenn Reynolds
TREY JACKSON HAS BEEN LOOKING AT IDENTITY THEFT and reports that there's a whole lot more of it than most people realize. "24% of Americans over 18 have been exposed to ID theft in the last 100 days."
Some time ago I took a look at the statistics in the annual Harvard Law Review issue on the Supreme Court, and found that each time there was an increase in the number of Supreme Court law clerks there was also a step increase in the number of separate concurring and dissenting opinions. . . .
My radical proposal, which I am sure will never be adopted, is: reduce the number of Supreme Court law clerks to one or two. My expected result, were this ever to be done: many fewer separate opinions and clearer, more straightforward opinions that intelligent citizens could easily read in full.
He's probably right.
posted at 09:12 AM by Glenn Reynolds
ANN ALTHOUSE: "Are we so starved for a scandal that we're biting at anything?"
Well, that question does come just above a post about "Plaidgate."
YES, THAT'S A BLOGAD FOR Contra Cafй over on the right. But they didn't buy it in response to my post -- I gave 'em a freebie after seeing the folks at antiwar.com go crazy over my earlier mention of them. I should've held out for a free t-shirt, at least.
Yes, I realize that I'm not properly monetizing InstaPundit. But it's fun!
UPDATE: Reader Stephen Schwartz emails:
Pretty interesting how Dennis Raimondo, allegedly the only real conservative in America, has suddenly signed on to recycling idiotic propaganda against the contras -- quoting old and thoroughly discredited Sandinista crap.
Someone needs to point out to him that the "terrorists" won the election in Nicaragua in 1990 and have never held power since.
Dennis being a person who only knows other countries via his computer, it wouldn't be of interest to him to read the serious literature about Nicaragua and the outcome of Sandinista rule there. For example, this:
The American radical left took to referring to the anti-Soviet Afghans as "Afghan contras," and then called the Kosovars "Albanian contras," since both groups had the bad taste to join the original Nicaraguan contras in refusing domination by atheist totalitarians. So now, according to Dennis "The Jews Did It, Everywhere" Raimondo, the Iraqi Shias are also "contras."
Some of us in San Francisco always believed that Dennis, like is associate Bill White, was a radical leftist posing as a conservative to get an audience. Now more than ever, that seems logical. I guess next Dennis will accuse Reagan of being a terrorist.
Yeah, the refrain's a familiar one, since it's always the same: Our guys are the bad guys, the only atrocities are by our guys, the murderous thugs our guys oppose are actually pure-minded agrarian reformers, and the U.S. is wrong and should get out. That's the story from these guys every single time. I can't pretend to take it seriously any more -- and, of course, I never took Raimondo seriously. Nor do many others.
Every time terrorists strike anywhere all of us who believe in democracy and the rule of law must stand together and affirm our firm commitment to fight this scourge resolutely and unitedly. I sincerely hope that all of those who cherish and value open and free societies will join hands in the war against terrorism wherever it is fought. I wish the people of London well. I pray that their lives will soon return to normal and they can resume their celebrations for having been chosen the venue for the 2012 Olympics.
Today, with the balance and perspective offered by the passage of time and the benefit of hindsight, it is possible for an Indian Prime Minister to assert that India's experience with Britain had its beneficial consequences too. Our notions of the rule of law, of a Constitutional government, of a free press, of a professional civil service, of modern universities and research laboratories have all been fashioned in the crucible where an age old civilisation met the dominant Empire of the day. . . .
It used to be said that the sun never sets on the British Empire. I am afraid we were partly responsible for sending that adage out of fashion!
But, if there is one phenomenon on which the sun cannot set, it is the world of the English speaking people, in which the people of Indian origin are the single largest component.
Of all the legacies of the Raj, none is more important than the English language and the modern school system. That is, if you leave out cricket!
As The Economist recently noted, India is moving much closer to the United States these days -- and vice versa. I guess they've all read Jim Bennett's book.
posted at 06:45 PM by Glenn Reynolds
JEFF GOLDSTEIN has thoughts on why rhetoric matters. He expands further in this comment: "I am not blaming 'the Left' en masse. But I am blaming those who are actively out to make political hay out of whatever the latest manufactured, ginned up outrage. And I think it’s time we started to forcefully push back against a political and media culture that is at least tangentially responsible for creating terrorists and their sympathizers based on false premises."
posted at 04:16 PM by Glenn Reynolds
EGYPTIANS AND TOURISTS PROTEST TERRORISM at Sharm El Sheikh. Gateway Pundit has a report, with photos.
Karim Elsahy reports that the Cairo antiterror protest went well, too, and says he'll have photos soon.
JOE GANDELMAN: "No where can you see the dilemmas facing government officials and security officials in the ongoing war against terror clearer than in London where police have apologized for the tragic killing an innocent Brazilian man suspected of being a suicide bomber — but underlined the fact that suspected suicide bombers will be shot in the head."
He rounds up quite a few other posts on the same subject.
Is it not true that yesterday's sad mistake has already solved the problem it represents? In fact, a further good has been created: as ordinary persons change their behavior and drop the bulky clothing and unnecessary running, the real terrorists will stand out more. Indeed, if anyone ever behaves like Jean Charles de Menezes again, the presumption that he is a terrorist will be so overwhelmingly strong that the police really must kill him.
Actually, in light of the bizarre behavior in this episode several readers speculate that this was a case of "suicide by cop." I have no idea.
posted at 02:07 PM by Glenn Reynolds
MEG KREIKEMEIER writes in the Chicago Tribune: "One of the outcomes of the 2004 election was a change in Democrats' rhetoric about Republicans. . . . For so long, Democrats have criticized Republicans as the party of the rich, and they still do when discussing tax cuts, budget deficits and Social Security. However, Republicans have now become the party of dishonest slackers who don't contribute to the federal government and yet make demands of it."
UPDATE: Reader Barry Johnson emails:
She effectively outlines facts about government revenues to completely discredit Larry O'Donnell's theory that blue states may secede because they are subsidizing red states.
But the other side of the equation is the government's spending patterns. Since Social Security is the highest federal expenditure, and Medicare is the third largest, it only makes sense that the feds spend more where there are more retirees. Can the red states help it if the Americans who have enjoyed our country the longest choose to retire in Florida, Arizona, and other red states?
It's true that not that many people retire to Massachusetts.
posted at 02:02 PM by Glenn Reynolds
TIM LAMBERT CONTINUES his Javert-like pursuit of John Lott.
UPDATE: Some find it titillating. It takes all kinds, I guess.
posted at 01:58 PM by Glenn Reynolds
I'VE PUBLISHED EMAILS FROM 1ST LT DAVID LUCAS before, but now he's got an oped in the News-Sentinel that's worth reading. Excerpt:
"Let's support our troops. Bring them home." Please don't ever say those words again. Nothing is so disheartening to our troops who are in harm's way than to hear our own citizens say things like that.
I know that the war my men and I fought is a totally different war than the one I see being reported by almost the entire media. There are a few exceptions to this, but they are generally overwhelmed by the massive anti-war/anti-Bush crowd. . . .
I will wrap this up by saying that you are entitled to your beliefs, and you should believe in whatever you want, but don't pretend to know what you are talking about just because you have watched 30 minutes of CNN the night before. Go and talk to the people who have been there — not the people who make assumptions from a TV studio — and then form your opinion based on facts.
Don't pretend to support troops by trying to undercut their efforts at the same time. Just go to bed at night and pray for their safety and thank God that they are there to protect you and your family, no matter your beliefs.
Read the whole thing. And here's a report on Lucas's Bronze Star.
THE NEW YORK TIMES reports on Knoxville's Suttree Stagger, an event combining literature and alcohol, both in prodigious quantities.
posted at 09:55 AM by Glenn Reynolds
IN THE VERDICT, PAUL NEWMAN VISITED FUNERALS to hand out his business card and try to boost his flagging career. Apparently, he's not the only one to try this approach: "The family of a Marine who was killed in Iraq is furious with Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll for showing up uninvited at his funeral this week, handing out her business card and then saying 'our government' is against the war."
Last week Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. agreed to pay $580 million for Intermix Media, owner of the popular community website Myspace.com which had 17.7 million visitors in June. The announcement came just days after News Corp. formed its Fox Interactive Media unit.
Hmm. InstaPundit had about a quarter that many visitors (and June isn't even that great a month.) Does that make it worth $145 million?
All offers in that range will be seriously considered.