Thursday, August 21, 2003

Tons of people are Googling for satellite pictures of New York and the northeast U.S. during the blackout and then coming to my site. You know, the big blackout. Satellite photo. One or two satellite photos, which you can see here (before) and here (after). Also see my comment about the mysterious line going from Detroit to Toronto in the direction on Montreal. Blackout satellite photos. In case you misspell it, blackout satelitte photos. An image from satellite, from the blackout, photos....

We have always been at war with Eurasia.

Mmmm.... toast....
Hey! 100% bilingual Pragueblogging at the modestly titled Nazory. (Maybe I'm late to pick up on this. Alva's been doing it in English since August 5. Good show, in any case.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

I just wasted all this time posting a Javascript command (stolen from NicMoc) to show other sites that have linked to this site in the past 24 hours. And there's nothing. Boo hoo.
OK, I have an incredibly dumb techie question -- though I hesitate to even call it that -- that I'm just going to throw out there and hope somebody can give me an answer. I want to watch a video stream from the CBSNews web site using Real Player. (It's the awful video of the Baghdad UN bombing linked to by TalkingPointsMemo and CalPundit.) Despite all the "help" commentary telling me how Real Networks Surestream technology automatically determines my optimal streaming speed, the video stops about once every 10-15 seconds to rebuffer. Rebuffering takes about 30 seconds. Needless to say, this drives me nuts, especially for a horrifying video such as this one. In all the preferences, I can't find an option that will simply allow me to download the whole thing and then watch it straight through. Only way to do that is to sit through all the stop-start nonsense, which is incredibly nervewracking, and then watch it again. What am I missing here?
Salam was at the blast site in Baghdad yesterday about an hour after they blew up UN headquarters. I also just found out that Sergio Vieira de Mello, the head UN guy whom I'd last heard was trapped alive under some rubble, is dead. That just sucks.

there is a friggin' Iraqi idiot now on Jazeera saying that the security responsibility should be given over to the Iraqi Governing Council. Fuck off, this is not about American presence in Iraq. these attacks have nothing to do with the so called resistance. These are fucking idiots who destroying all the efforts to help this country get back on it's feet.
It looks like Al Qaeda, both in the method of attack and in the wanton targeting of innocents. But wait, let me guess. It's actually good news that the UN headquarters has been blown up. It's the "flypaper" strategy -- after all if it hadn't been the UN in Baghdad, the bombers surely would have targetted someplace else. Thankfully we've engaged the bastards on our own terms.... Right. And we have always been at war with Eurasia. Speaking of which...

I've been reading CalPundit lately. Pretty good stuff. Fair and balanced, as they say. He links to this Washington Post article summarizing Bush's changing statements on troop strength in Iraq and Afghanistan. Actually, I agree with Kevin Drum of CalPundit that it's a cheap shot to mock Bush's switch from "major combat operations" to "major military operations," as The American Propsect's blog, among others, recently did. If you look at the context of the phrase, it seems he's clearly correcting the interviewer's assertion that he stated "combat operations" have ended simply by inserting the word "major." Fair enough. Combat, military.... I'm not being sarcastic when I say they do basically mean the same thing in this context.

But the piece buries the more shocking mistatement in the ninth paragraph. Bush says about troop strength in Afghanistan:

"We've got about 10,000 troops there, which is down from, obviously, major combat operations," he said.....
Um, obviously. Except the Post gently reminds the reader:

In fact, the 10,000 troops in Afghanistan represent the highest number of U.S. soldiers in the country since the war there began. By the time the Taliban government had been vanquished in December 2001, U.S. troops numbered fewer than 3,000 in Afghanistan.
This is truly unbelievable, even for Bush. OK, so he's not a "nuance" kind of guy. But you should expect to the president to at least know whether troops levels are up or down in Afghanistan since the war began. And what's more outrageous is that nobody's going to call him on this.

Also, I found out via CalPundit that Leon Trotsky's great-granddaughter is now running the National Institute on Drug Abuse (posted by Mark A. R. Kleiman).

And if you're still thinking that "flypaper" strategy sounds like a good idea, watch the CBS video of the inside of the building when it was hit (instructions also posted here by Calpundit). As the bloodspattered victims make their way outside, stepping over those that can't even move, some of whom likely won't move again, just keep thinking: Wow, it's working! Look at all them flies sticking to the flypaper! Bring 'em on!

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Fulsome: "The senses shown above are the chief living senses of fulsome. Sense 2, which was a generalized term of disparagement in the late 17th century, is the least common of these. Fulsome became a point of dispute when sense 1, thought to be obsolete in the 19th century, began to be revived in the 20th. The dispute was exacerbated by the fact that the large dictionaries of the first half of the century missed the beginnings of the revival. Sense 1 has not only been revived but has spread in its application and continues to do so. The chief danger for the user of fulsome is ambiguity. Unless the context is made very clear, the reader or hearer cannot be sure whether such an expression as 'fulsome praise' is meant in sense 1b or in sense 4. "

I never knew.
When I read stories like this one -- about some unknown techie out there who has supposedly created a 'good' strain of the Blaster worm -- I start to think: What if these things don't actually come from anywhere? What if they're self-generating? What if the Internet has already achieved sentience? How would we know?!

Mmm... toast....
Cruz Bustamante, Democratic candidate for California governor: "'I'm going to keep my focus. I'm going to say no on the recall and yes on Bustamante because I think that's a win-win situation.'"

Uh, in what sense? Sir, I think that phrase does not mean what you think it means...
Looks like a ransom was paid to the goons who held the European "adventure tourists" (read: people who like driving across the godforsaken desert in vans and motorcycles) in the Sahara. One Swiss paper says the whole thing makes the Algerian government look pretty bad. Yep, you know you're doing something wrong when you have to call in Khadafi to sort out these types of problems. Schroeder made no mention of Libya's role.

This whole affair has been murky and mysterious for the beginning. It took months for anybody to even get around to issuing a random demand. I wrote about the issue for Slate when the first bunch of hostages were released in May. Released -- that's not really the right word. They were rescued in a commando raid. After that, I imagine things must have gotten a bit hairy for those left behind, although they say they weren't terribly mistreated. Strange.
I had the Moses Blahs today.
I can't sleep.

Monday, August 18, 2003

John Letzing (a guy I've never heard of) writes an article about public accountability in the Czech Repubilc for the Prague Tribune. Quote:
After all, accountability is really a matter of preference - if people are comfortable with the way things have been done, they will continue as such. Petr Drulák points out that the issue remains volatile within our future political home, the EU: 'This is what divides (the EU) into two halves - the north and the south. From that point of view, we are in the south.'
If you're looking for bare objectivity, you're often unlikely to do much better than straight business reporting, which is why this article on Forbes Global is worth reading. Halliburton, it says, might not be enjoying such a bonanza after all. It turns out there are lots of Iraqis who are already pretty good at pumping oil out of the ground. Who woulda thought?
With surprising speed, technocrats at Iraq's state-owned national oil companies are taking charge of reconstruction. And they seem more interested in obtaining U.S. Army patrols than in spending billions on high-tech services and equipment.

'The priority is security for our installations,' says Jabbar A. el-Leaby , director general of the South Oil Co. in Basra....

New technology would be nice, El-Leaby says, but it's not the first thing on his mind. "I have heard about it in the literature," he says of the latest gadgets, with a bored expression on his face. U.S. experts? "We have skilled people here," he says.
A similar story, with fewer hard numbers, appears in today's LA Times. The occupation authority has cancelled plans to create a big international advisory board to oversee the Iraqi oil industry. An unnamed official with the authority says: "Once we got in here and got to know the folks in the Oil Ministry and the employees at the oil companies, it became obvious that the expertise was already there. So the advisory board just became unnecessary."

Gosh, Bush was totally right. Those Iraqis sure are a good and gifted people.
A 220-pound marble sculpture of a nose, based on to Nicolai Gogol's ''The Nose," was stolen from a building facade in St. Petersburg in October. The Boston Globe's Joshua Glenn reports that it's been found on the landing of an apartment building.

Just read this piece (by Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Weekly Standard; article referred to by Oxblog) arguing that George W. Bush is a "different breed" of conservative than what has come before. Obviously referring to his horrendous track record on government spending, the author pegs Bush as a "big government conservative" -- which several years ago may have sounded like an oxymoron.

When I coined the phrase "big government conservative" years ago, I had certain traits in mind. Mr. Bush has all of them. First, he's realistic. He understands why Mr. Reagan failed to reduce the size of the federal government and why Newt Gingrich and the GOP revolutionaries failed as well. The reason: People like big government so long as it's not a huge drag on the economy. So Mr. Bush abandoned the all-but-hopeless fight that Mr. Reagan and conservatives on Capitol Hill had waged to jettison the Department of Education. Instead, he's opted to infuse the department with conservative goals.
Oxblog's response:

But Reagan did all the same things then that Bush is doing now, albeit with greater pangs of conscience. The bottom line is that Republicans maintain a rhetorical commitment to small government but tacitly admit that their cause is hopeless.
It's true. I wasn't old enough to follow politics closely at the time, but I seem to remember a rather ugly federal budget deficit during the 1980s, which conservatives, to this day, blame on the Democratic Congress -- even though most of the budgets in those years were proposed by Reagan himself.

I think it was Garry Wills who came up with the theory of how Reagan sought to achieve small government: Not by scaling back federal spending, but by appointing totally incompetant people to head federal agencies and then giving them budgets grossly out of proportion to what the government could pay for so that "big government" would eventually drive itself into the ground.
G. has posted some cool photos of Baghdad. Or rather, senior Baghdad blogger Salam Pax has posted some photos on behalf of G., who is apparently still recovering from an ass-kicking he got from U.S. soldiers. (Stay tuned to those two blogs for that story.)

Sunday, August 17, 2003

Anybody have any idea what the weird line is going from Detroit, past Toronto, toward Montreal in this 7-hours-after-blackout satellite photo? It doesn't appear in the before picture.