Wednesday, August 31
People are jamming gas stations to get one more tank of gas at $2.89 instead of going to the much-less crowded gas station across the street with gas at $2.99. Many don't have empty tanks but are just trying to top it off on cheaper gas. Let's say these folks are getting 10 gallons. Is it worth one thin dollar to get cheaper gas? Is it worth the time? Is it worth the aggravation?
Plus, people aren't concerned enough about the price of gas to slow down. I was doing 70 (mph) coming home on the Interstate tonight and people were wailing past me. We get better gas mileage as we slow toward 55, right?
(I'm probably just giving John more ammunition for his 'Americans are crazy' proclivities. )
+ Jaq writes:
I also reject any notion, really, that fighting in Iraq constitutes any kind of convincing theater in a "Global War on Terror", or "Global Struggle Against Extremism", or whatever it is they're calling it these days. Iraq had an odious regime under Saddam, but it wasn't connected much at all to the more pernicious worldwide Islamic extremist terrorism that's the real problem these days.
I think that the war in Iraq has helped to localize terrorist activity in the Middle East. This goes along with the other positive correlations I argue for and that you disallowed in your first comment.
+ My email response yesterday to what John has posted as comments 4 and 5 today:
Thank you for your long reply. Sure is difficult to see how we're going to find common ground to even agree to disagree.
I don't see anything in your response that I flat-out disagree with. You may be right all the way around.
I hope it won't come to inevitable withdrawal and civil war.
You are right: the insurgents don't need to 'win'. Makes this kind of war even harder, which the Bush Admin. obviously vastly underestimated.
On the Turks and Kurdistan I can only say that Tom was not joking.
America is over-proud. More American decision-makers should consider the Law of Unintended Consequences. Bush was wrong when he campaigned on no more nation building (b/c he's done it big-time in the end - you could argue 'nation destroying' - and on subsequent lack of preparedness). He was wrong about the WMDs (and I think he 'shepherded' the CIA conclusions). Rumsfeld was wrong in his lack of and wrong preparations and lack of troops for the occupation.
Still, with all of those mistakes (you can probably add to the list), I hope something good can result. It may be all wishful thinking. I hope, for the sake of the Iraqi people and the Americans who have died and those bereft, that you are wrong. We will certainly see. I will be willing to say you were right if things go as you say.
+ Concerning John's comment #6: regarding a 10-point plan for pulling out:
I just don't think we can pull out and say the Iraqis have to sink or swim. We need to try a lot more, a lot harder before we make that decision.
Tom Barnett argues that new governments should not be substantially armed because of the temptation to tip back into civil war. He argues that it is better to have peackeepers who can stabilize security until the new government can get its feet beneath it.
I'm already on the record that we don't need more concessions to the Sunnis. They need to cooperate some. They had lots of years of favoritism on their side. Their fall from 'grace' will be hard and we don't have to ameliorate it.
Cole's goal is extraction of US troops without civil war. Then he's resigned to complete US withdrawal in acquiescence to the Ayatollah of Najaf. That's an unacceptable 'goal'.
+ By way of rejoinder, and something that will probably make Jaq and John really mad, though that's not my goal, I give you Christopher Hitchens' A War to Be Proud Of (via kottke).
- I really liked The New Adventures of Flash Gordon and never got to see enough of it. [ Wikipedia page]
- A lot of these shows have the theme from after they jumped the shark, thus the presence of Bat-Mite and Godzukie. Ugh.
- The Superfriends, on the other hand, is nice and old school: the worlds four greatest heroes, two teen sidekicks, and Wonder Dog. Much preferable to the Wonder Twins and Gleek.
- I thought I recognized the voice singing Hong Kong Phooey: Scatman Carothers - the murdered cook in The Shining and (known best by me) Scat Cat in The Aristocats, featured on the song 'Everybody want to be a cat'. Number 57 in The All-Time Top 100 Voices in the Movies .
- As I look around in this vein I find The Top Seven Cartoons of My Childhood. I also really liked the Herculoids (which were on with Space Ghost, I think) and Thundarr the Barbarian. I liked anything fantasy of sci-fi including Space Ghost, Dungeons and Dragons, and Mighty Orbots. Unfortunately we never got Voltron. He-Man and Transformers were too juvenile ;-)
Have you seen that perfect album list floating around ('perfect' defined for the sake of this exercise as 'you'd listen to every track)? My comments:
+ OK Computer is a good album. Lots of good songs on there that I like listening to.
+ Abbey Road is (obviously) a very solid album.
+ A lot of these, for me, start stronger than they finish: Joshua Tree, Ten,
+ Love 'Wave of Mutilation'
+ Can't get there on Disintegration. Four people were 18 when it came out, I guess ;-)
+ Synchronicity has a nicer back half (minus 'Murder by Numbers', which is ok, but not for the last song)
+ August and Everything After: 6 great songs that are a pleasure to hear anytime. 1 of my favorite album-closing songs. 1 good song suffering from massive over-exposure. 3 songs (4, 9, 10) that I never choose to listen to.
+ Whatever and Ever Amen and Yoshimi... are very listenable albums for me
+ New Order might slip in somewhere, but mostly because I'm pretty good at ignoring Bernard's (usually meaningless) lyrics.
+ An honorary mention to Green
+ I listen all the way through Enya's Watermark, but it basically gets filed in the 'easy listening' category.
Wonder what album I listen to the greatest percentage of its tracks...
Nominees for my most 'perfect' album: Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, The Queen is Dead, (and not on the Plastic list) 'Strangeways, Here We Come' , Murmur, Life's Rich Pageant, Document, Welcome to Struggleville, Blister Soul, and Slow Dark Train . I love them all, but The Sundays and VOL fall out right away before the greater enjoyment I get from the The Smiths and REM. Then I have to leave those four alone. I can't choose one from among them.
Tuesday, August 30
Are you serious Sean? I mean clearly there are differences with Vietnam but the scenario of propping up a govt of occupation in the face of an indigenous resistance movement that has made large swathes of the country ungovernable sure seems to ring a bell for me. Where do you think this analogy actually breaks down?
Up front, I'm certainly a lot more 'hawkish' on Iraq than you are, John, so I doubt we're going to agree here. I am serious about the 'Iraq is Vietnam' analogy being ill-suited. Some ways:
+ Iraq is more strategic and, at the same time, we don't have to worry about the nuclear-bearing-Communist-domino threat.
+ this insurgency is subtly different in that we have already taken down the enemy government and are occupying the country. there isn't a whole 'North Vietnam' within which we can't operate with impunity. you can say Iran, Syria, et al. can fulfill that role, but it's not enough the same.
+ we never committed to win in Vietnam. we have won the war in Iraq. now we need to win the peace/occupation, which is proving very difficult (as everyone should have known and planned for up front).
+ we're responsible. we broke it. we need to fix it. we need to stick this thing out. the investment of American and Iraqi blood precludes anything short of a free nation, free to choose their own form of government, but not 'free' to be taken over by violent minorities and foreigners.
+ Iraq is not a 'quagmire' in the sense that Vietnam was. you will think i'm crazy, but i think there have been some good results from this war. we're seeing some positive developments in Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia - small moves toward democracy and peace. we've got a long way to go, but these are positive developments.
+ Something else that could be different and should be different, but isn't different-enough yet, is that Vietnam was a lower priority militarily and politically than holding the line in the Cold War. The USSR was always public enemy #1. That's not the case this time. Fighting terrorism in job 1 and Iraq fits that bill fine. Now that we're in it we need to fight it as our top priority. One way we're getting distracted here is by old school warriors and politicians who want to keep out Cold War capabilites intact when we already have submarines and airplanes that are non pareil for years to come. We had more opportunities in this Base Realignment and Closure Comission to retool our force, but too many people looked out for what was 'best' for themselves and their constituents and not for the US and global security (more on this later).
- They are similar in how the public perceives the war, and that could be self-fulfilling.
- They are similat in that we need to fight on to win and we probably need to fight harder - commit more troops and equipment.
Things may look bad these days re: the constitution, but it's just a desperate, Sunni power grab. If they don't play ball they'll get stuck out in the cold with no oil and a rong of forces around their 'region' until they learn how to play nice. Then we'll see about their insurgency.
All in all, I don't really have a 'dog' in this fight. If someone wants to call Iraq Vietnam, that's ok. I want the outcome to be different and there's no doubt in my mind that it can be. My thinking these days is largely sharpened by Tom's, which is so germane to my own. Some of his recent posts on this topic:
Monday, August 29
+ We have been enjoying PlayStation 1 lately (thanks to Macon for the gift some time ago). When we were in Iowa in july, Wil really enjoyed playing Super Mario Sunshine on GameCube, so I decided to try some PlayStation. We got Harry Potter 1 and Toy Story 2 and finished them both. Saturday we got Spider-Man, and it's really fun, too.
+ 'Remember, remember the fifth of November.' Ooo! I forgot that V for Vendetta is coming out as a movie [IMDB] [ Amazon]. Natalie as Evey, Hugo Weaving as V, Stephen Rea.
The trailer is cool. I like all of Natalie's lines, the inflection (and I'm not a Natalie worshipper). The scene with Evey sitting on the couch continues the excellent trend of movies recreating panels from their source comic books as closely as possible.
The Wikipedia site is good, and it links Shadow Gallery's shrine which is also very good.
V, happily, remains a mystery through the course of the book. Most of the characterization is done with respect to Evey and the inspector (Rea).
'People should not be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.' Obviously, Alan Moore was writing against trends in our societies toward fascism. Such lessons are valuable reminders. It probably shows just how conservative I really am when I say I'm more concerned about tendencies to anarchism than I am fascism. Nevertheless, the connections with Guy Fawkes are interesting.
'Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. There is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof.'
+ Aaron's little sister has started weblogging and she's getting after the quizzes. I'll play along on a couple:
- The Nerd, Geek, or Dork? Test
- Pure Nerd: 78 % Nerd, 43% Geek, 8% Dork -- a little more geek and less nerd than Amanda. That makes sense to me since I'm mostly over the PTSD my Master's degree gave me and I'm probably more into geek stuff (eg, Internet, comic books). I'll buy these definitions for the sake of conversation. (You know you're a nerd when you edit someone else's title for their test and notice misspellings ;-)
- The Sorting Hat Test
- GRYFFINDOR:20% Slytherin, 20% Ravenclaw, 72% Gryffindor, and 36% Hufflepuff!
- But The Harry Potter Wand Test is going too far. Not gonna' do it.
Perhaps we should have a contest to see what other specious antiwar Iraq analogies we can inject into the debate. Bonus points for historical obscurity. The winner is the first blogger who finds somebody on the Left using their slogan seriously.
I open with " Iraq will be America's Agincourt !"
for the discouraged conservative, i give you: Thermopylae! sure, we're fighting for freedom. it may even make a difference. but those unwashed barbarian hordes will keep at us and find the back way in until they've killed every last man and woman.
Saturday, August 27
+ Here's a question for you: why have 'individuals' and 'pastors' separated over at Covenant Blogs? (I really like to see my posts over there, btw.) I'm a currently-not-practicing pastor. Isn't Scot McKnight ordained? Is the distinction worth making? Clergy/laity dichotomy and all that. (I'm mostly asking you, Brad.)
+ ImPRESSive: Matt is now reviewing gadgets for the New York Times!
+ Also impressive: Technorati and Newsweek integration.
+ Here's one especially for my library-workin', audiobook-lovin' wife: Libraries offering audiobook downloads .
+ Here's something cool: the executive producer for Pescozada's new album emailed me to offer me a promo based on my posts. Looking forward to that. Need to break down and buy the last album.
Friday, August 26
He also linked an article about peak oil which is a total myth and just plain bad economics. Tom writes about it a lot, including this post where he links Steven 'Freakonomics' Levitt. Peak oil seems to make sense, so we accept it uncritically (similar to Malthus). But when you start to peel it back, you see it's fraught with poor assumptions.
Something Levitt doesn't address that Tom does other places: we keep discovering more 'reserves'. Places, like Russia, that are national-controlled, then let in higher-tech companies, like Exxon, 'magically' discover much more oil than they thought they had. Then you have better technology for the eventual use of natural gas. Then you have better technology for extracting oil from shale. Then China will make the conversion to hydrogen as their car market explodes and their new, pebble-bed nuclear reactors produce hydrogen cheaply. India and the rest of East Asia will be majorly affected by China's revolution, especially auto markets that are still immature like India and North Korea. East Asia's need to cut pollution will also be a major factor. It starts to sound pie-in-the-sky, but this is a realistic projection.
America's route, with oil deeply entrenched in a mature auto market, will be much less drastic. We haven't even really begun to let the market work on this thing. We're still subsidizing gas. We're still buying big cars. Have you cut down on your trips? We'll likely 'manage' our oil situation and pollution and miss out on the front end of the hydrogen revolution. You'll buy your hydrogen-fueled car in America in 2040 from a Chinese-owned company (if we're not totally post-national by then ;-)
Don't believe the prophets of doom. If you've accepted that the oil production 'peak' is coming, I encourage you to check out some of these links.
Wednesday, August 24
kottke's got a big post about Web 2.0. Google's use of Ajax is making their apps act like desktop programs, so there's no loss in function there.
I wrote a couple days ago about maybe caching webpages I want to save in Gmail. As the power of Google Desktop increases, including indexing my Gmail, that would put all of that info at my fingertips, as opposed to having to go search over at del.icio.us. And I just realized I could easily use the 'Email this' link in Bloglines to email pages to myself, putting 'tags' in the comments.
Nothing against del.icio.us. You know I love it. And, at the same time, last night I just found the greasemonkey script that changes Bloglines' 'Save this' to 'Post to del.icio.us'. So I have to decide which I'm going to use. Both will be an improvement over the current 'administration'. I'm leaning toward Gmail...
Anyway, it's all good... really. Fun days on the web. Google Talk is out today and I'm all excited and I don't even do IM or want to. Downloaded GAIM last night in preparation. Anybody want to do some Google Talk? Christine? ;-)
Tuesday, August 23
+ Ooh. I really like the new Google Desktop Sidebar and Deskbar - a little bit like Quicksilver and Konfabulator. Had fun playing with it last night. I like the scrolling photos (guess I'm a sap). Fun .
+ In other U of I ranking news, they got #8 for party schools...
+ Mark the ZenPundit has had a number of interesting posts on ideas for reforming the State Department.
Monday, August 22
+ The Gaza pullout seems to be going well. I'm really glad. I'm hoping for good things, including getting a constitution in Iraq.
+ I haven't commented on Hunter S Thompson's suicide yet. Short version: sure, some people love him, but isn't the suicide a hint about the shortcomings of his 'philosophy' to anyone but me?
+ Latest computer thought: as much as I like del.icio.us, and I love it, emailing to my Gmail account the contents of webpages I would put in del.icio.us would make them more searchable, including within Google Desktop Search (new beta). Hmm...
Plus, as I look at the new beta, they're adding some Quicksilver-like functionality for launching applications. Looks like lots of cool new things over there. I, for one, welcome our Google overlords.
+ U.S. News & World Report's 2006 "America's Best Colleges"
The University of Iowa dropped two spots to No. 21 among the nation's top 50 public universities.
Cal Berkeley is No. 1. The Big Ten:
14. Penn State
21. Iowa, Ohio State, Purdue
30. Indiana, Michigan State, Minnesota
Clemson dropped from 34 to 32. USC is 109.
Thursday, August 18
+ I said it before, I'll say it again: Tom DeLay is toast.
+ SI's top 25 preseason college football rankings came yesterday. My (totally biased) comments:
2. Texas - whatever. I'll believe Mac Brown won't choke when I see it.
3. Florida - somebody up there fell in love with Chris Leak and Urban Meyer. What has Chris Leak proven so far? And Urban Meyer's good and all, but playing for the National Championship? I doubt it.
6. Miami - bleah
7. Oklahoma - ought to get more credit for their performance over the last 6 years. I'd rank 'em higher, like maybe 2nd.
12. Iowa - probably too low. The Big Ten's tough, with OSU, Michigan, and Purdue all picked to do well, and we play them all this year. Still, I bet we'll finish better than OSU or UM. The offense has come together well (providing we can keep at least one running back healthy!), and the defense will come together. Ferentz is a great coach who gets more out of his players than anyone. Consistency is the name of the game. We're 30-0 'over the past three years when leading after three quarters... 27-1 following a halftime lead.'
13 and on - who cares? ;-)
+ More TO punkness
+ Dude built furniture out of FedEx boxes and published a website about it. Got cease-and-desisted. Got help from the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society .
+ Here's a quick and dirty list of some of the pork in the new transportation bill. See anything that's mission critical?
On one hand, 12.2 B$ is only 4.2% of 284. On the other hand, 12.2 B$ is a lot of samoleans.
President Bush last year threatened to veto any bill costing more than $256 billion, but has since raised the ceiling to $284 billion.
The Repubs, in control of everything, are going nuts with their spending. I'll ask you again: What's worse than tax and spend? Cut taxes and spend.
+ UI a great buy
The Fiske Guide to Colleges 2006 has named the University of Iowa a "Best Buy" based on cost and educational quality. UI is one of 17 public and 28 private colleges to receive the title.
Friday, August 12
+ Couldn't have happened to a nicer punk. Did you see Terrell Owens got kicked out of camp? You go, Andy!
+ Search Wars: Google's investing in the Chinese Google, will Yahoo is investing in Chinese e-commerce site alibaba.com.
+ Matt Haughey writes:
SportsFilter | Sportsfilter meet
MSN launched "sportsfilter" even though there's been a blog (I helped set up) 3+ years ago by the same name and domain. Jerks.
I'm actually a member of SportsFilter, but haven't even been there, not to mind posted, in a long time.
+ Looks like it's pretty easy to find pirated software using Chinese Google.
+ Here's an article on carbonating at home. I post it, because I can make you a deal on the CO2 and supplies ;-). Too bad I don't like seltzer water, and we don't really need syrupped drinks around the house...
Wednesday, August 10
Gotta get through it. I have a (minor) goal of posting the first customer review on Amazon. And, BTW, Tom: that 70-page first chapter was a doozy! ;-)
+ One thing reading weblogs in a feedreader does is causes me to comment less. It takes an extra step to click through and comment, so I have to want to do it. I save a lot of steps in hitting the various sites. But the conversation suffers a little, I think. Have you seen this on your weblog or those you frequent?
+ There's some squawking about Yahoo passing Google in pages indexed. But Google's helping Baidu (read: Chinese Google) go public . That's the piece I'd rather have.
+ I've been waiting so long for this: Google now supports wildcards. Check out this interesting search: Glasgow is the * capital of Europe. Sometimes it seems like they add something new every day!
Tuesday, August 9
+ Batman Begins: the defective yeti review. Short version: he liked it, too. I agree with most of what he says.
+ Surprise: I commented in the What book can't you put down? Ask MeFi thread.
Whoa: lots of books in this thread I put down easily. But on to the ones I didn't:
The Lord of the Rings, Red Storm Rising, Neuromancer, Shogun (all violent, upon review).
The Name of the Rose was one, but my Medieval philosophy, history, and theology are pretty good, with a smattering of ecclesiastic Latin, so I could hack it pretty well.
Nonfiction-wise, I've recently enjoyed Malcolm Gladwell (Blink and The Tipping Point) and Freakonomics.
+ Captious: another Word of the Day I didn't know. I think we're up to three now.
+ The three Iowa public university radio stations merged. Comment Jason?
+ I sent Tom Barnett a link to analysis on the Amazon sales ranking (which he follows pretty closely), and he linked it.
+ Parked bullet trains look cool.
+ Google now has feeds.
Monday, August 8
+ Brad says Jesus wouldn't have been a Democrat or a Republican or a fill-in-the-blank. No doubt. His message has political ramifications, but mostly it was a critique:
- The rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them. It shall not be so with you.
- Woe to you...
- Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's
- Ooo, Ooo. Great contemporary illustration from Will Wilimon: 'Give me a dollar. Whose picture's on it? If he cares about the stuff so much, let him have it...'
- Blessed are the poor, the meek...
+ Really good news about the Russian sub getting free. I'm almost surprised. Advice to Russian sailors: Don't go under the water...
+ The State had some collected quotes about the Palmeiro-gate yesterday, and I wanted to link them, but I couldn't find them. The best I can do is the perjury inquiry. Here's the hearings picture of him shaking his finger. My thought: the male of the species naturally loses muscle mass after 20 (don't I know it *frowns*). Yes, he's innocent until proven guilty, but he sure looks guilty now...
+ On the other, good hand, did you see that Iowa City was named the # 1 football town in the NATION by The Sporting News! Take that Columbus, Ann Arbor, Columbia, Clemson, Tallahassee, Baton Rouge, Knoxville, State College, College Station, Austin, Gainesville... Have I left anyone out? ;-) I have extremely fond memories of football Saturdays in Iowa City, even with the insane traffic.
CBS Sportsline ranked Iowa number 2 in the preseason. That seems a little high. 8 preseason polls
'We're gonna fight, fight, fight for Iowa...' Sing it with me!
+ Did you see that Google got angry because a reporter at CNET googled their CEO and printed some of the personal information in a column? (via Lifehacker)
- Great movie (written and directed by Brad Bird of The Incredibles, in case you didn't know). You should see it if you haven't.
- Might have been a little too heart-wrenching for the kids (though there's a happy ending). Elizabeth cried pretty hard (but she was tired, too).
- Wil said it was the coolest movie after The Incredibles.
- Favorite lines:
- 'You can fly? You can fly!'
- 'I'm the luckiest kid in America!'
- Hadn't realized Vin Diesel was the voice of the robot.
- Survey question: What is Jennifer Aniston's better work: the voice of Annie in the movie or Office Space?
Saturday, August 6
+ A discussion of the theory behind MAD, terrorists with nuclear weapons, and threatening to irradiate Mecca if...
+ Read any comic adaptations of Lovecraft lately? (Wonder if Lovecraft is where Bob Kane got the name for 'Arkham Asylum'...)
+ The "Not Insane" To-Do List (fits in with my goal of Getting (a few) Things Done)
+ Five reasons why I'm a geek
Jaq picks up this idea for a post. I've got more than five, easily, and may find more. My starting self-nominees:
- When I see the letters 'FTL' I think 'Faster Than Light' instead of 'Fruit of the Loom'.
- When I see the shipping company name "Hapag Lloyd', I think of the Greek phrase 'hapax legomena'.
- I have memorized a lot of the home operating cities of trucking companies because I'm interested to know how far the driver (probably) is from home.
- I have played the Civilization series for untold hours.
- I spent a lot of time and money on role-playing games and comic books in my youth, and still love (some) comic books at 33.
- I have an impressive ability to quote movies and can probably come up with a song line for most any word or sentence you care to name.
- I have a weblog ;-) (which, I now see, after reading the originating post of this series, that he listed, too)
Thursday, August 4
+ Go look at the Acropolis on GoogleSat!
+ I've been worrying about this lately, too: Copying this whole post from kottke:
Monday, August 1
Map / Google Earth
A corn maze announcing the annual Iowa - Iowa State football game just East of Ames, Iowa. The image is on its side but you should be able to see the University of Iowa's 'Herky the Hawk' to the right and Iowa State University's 'Cy' tornado-thing to the left. Below is the date of the game - Sept 13, 2003.
+ I've been meaning to link this for a while, so forgive me if it's old news to you: A new study indicates that intelligence has no relation to the one's level of happiness . Tell me something I didn't already know.
+ Bush installs Bolton as U.N. ambassador
'Bush blamed "partisan delaying tactics by a handful of senators" [for holding up the confirmation process].' Baloney. President Bush should have sent someone who would be somewhat agreeable to both sides instead of using his 'partisan ramrod tactics'.
+ Didn't write much about Lance's triumph because it was a little anticlimactic. Here are some articles on the science of Lance, National Geographic (via kottke) and the WSJ (which talks about other athletes, too). Notes:
- '[Lance] is the most poked, prodded, calibrated and medically researched athlete in sports history.'
- 'Scientists know that his heart is at least 20 percent larger than a normal person's, he produces one-third less lactic acid than do other top cyclists and delivers oxygen to his legs at a rate higher than all but maybe 100 of his fellow earthlings.'
- Lance is a pure machine, training wise (but we already knew that). He's the only person ever documented to have improved muscle efficiency.
- I suspect this came from improving his efficiency on the bike, knowing he wanted to ride about 105 rpms and training his body until it could do it.
- Lance has extremely low lactic acid production.
- There's a myth that Lance lost weight from cancer that he couldn't have lost otherwise, but he was the same weight before and after.
- However, that weight may have been differently proportioned. Lance used to have more muscle mass in his chest. Now it's all quads and hams.