Monday, March 31

MentalBlocks on the future of warfare. And it's not the tank. There's actually more firepower, in the age of precision munitions, in having a firespotter on the spot who 'calls in' (paints with a laser, gives GPS coordinates, or whatever). Tanks are uncomfortable, hard to maintain, and hard to get out of in a hurry (like when you're going to explode). They're hard to keep fueled.

It occurs to me that Steven wrote about this before. And when he was talking about obsolescence he wasn't even talking about precision bombs.
Retired Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd of CNN says he likes Franks' plan and why.
Jim Litke of AP asks if the deciding game has already been played in AZ-KU.

Come on Jayhawks. Go Kansas University of Iowa.

Sunday, March 30

I've been on a total Sister Golden Hair kick for the last couple of weeks. I didn't even know the name of the song until friday. I heard it in McDonalds on vacation and was amazed once again by how interesting the verse structure is. The verse sounds musically like a bridge to me, something about the chord progression in that key. It's so surprising and wonderful. I don't care about the lyrics, and the chorus is pretty standard.

(Jaq, any musician's comments on what's going on in my mind here?)

Now that I mention it, I like quite a few songs by America. I think I particularly like the melodies, the harmonies, and the vocal style.
There go my picks, right down the toilet. I lost my finals teams last night.

And I'm totally ok with it. As a matter of fact, I pulled for both of the underdogs. I wanted Novak to hit another three (for skinny white guys everywhere). And, if I had my druthers, Kansas would win the whole thing.

(I haven't mentioned yet that I killed Sports Illustrated, pick-wise. I'll spare you the analysis, but their picks were terrible, and they had Arizona winning the whole thing.)

Friday, March 28

From a Google Ad:

Who would Jesus bomb?
anti-war bumper stickers
from Unknown News

The ad got pulled for violating Google's No Hate Speech Rules, but later got reinstated. The whole story (via Google Weblog).
C'mon, Jaq, admit it. Tom Brady is great.
After reading DEBKA(via MentalBlocks) I feel positively sanguine. Their map says 4 columns but shows 6. Sound like there are more available, too. I wasn't getting this from CNN. Glad I read further
If you're discouraged by how the war is going, check out USS Clueless, especially this post. Among other items, Steven links to Ha'aretz which says:

There has never been a war with such a high level of disinformation about what exactly is happening on the battlefield as the present conflict in Iraq, according to Israeli researchers and senior military officers....Contrary to the sense that has been created in the last few days, including in the media, there have not been any particularly tough battles in Iraq so far, and the American military has chalked up a series of achievements.

People are hungry for news, and they're getting it from embedded reporters. But, for the most part, they're getting exactly what the military wants them to get.

How will the media evaluate this coverage, looking back. Does embedding compromise theri objectivity? Is it a co-opting of the media that they will find unacceptable? 'news' is a product for which there is a market, so the media will keep serving it up. But shouldn't they be keeping in mind, and reminding their viewers, for the sake of journalistic integrity, that they lack major pieces of information.

This embedding thing turns all of the major media into a military propaganda arm under the guise of objective reporting. That's pretty good for fighting a war, not so good for getting the whole picture.

One last question: How's the whole Psychological Operations thing going? Sure would be nice if we didn't have to fight in the streets of Baghdad. It's often been said we're waging a different kind of war where public opinion around the globe really matters, and most of all in Iraq.

Steven also links MentalBlocks, which looks pretty knowledgeable.

Oh, and by the way, Israel's totally loving us right now.

Thursday, March 27

Did you see Michael Stipe has a protest song up? fwiw
Here's an idea I'm totally ripping off from Kottke: what Google thinks is related to my site. Very interesting. Mostly what I'd expect. A new high in Google vanity.

Tuesday, March 25

And, finally from the Kottkefest, I really agree that too many reporters are being upbeat about this, concluding their reports with 'My pleasure'.
On the military side:

We have obvisouly learned two very important lessons form Vietnam:

1. Support the troops. Everyone is falling all over themselves to do it, even if they're against the war.

2. Fight to win. You must have the will to win.

Question: If we are faced with a war we should fight, but could possibly lose, will we be willing. We have the will to win now. Could we have the will to lose?
Thoughts on the War in Iraq
(Warning: Incongruous Thoughts and Feelings Ahead)

I've been driving Christine crazy with my constant tuning into the war news. As much as I love the NCAA MBB Tournament, I've barely watched any of it. Instead, I've watched a lot of CNN and listened to a lot of NPR (or tried, through the radio hells of the NC mountains and rural TN, AR, and OK).

So, what do I think?

I'm conflicted.

Saddam Hussein deserves to go down. The UN hasn't dealt effectively with him. France (minus Bourdeax) can fall off into the Atlantic. I want our troops to win. And I'm annoyed with a lot of the press.

But I know the US can't claim the moral high-ground. We typically act unilaterally in our own interest, and our biggest interest is money, followed closely by power (which secures money). It's still the economy, stupid.

Kottke's right in a lot of what he says. We are not going to war for altruistic reasons. We've been a little bit honest about this. We've said we're protecting our people. We've couched it in terms of liberation, which is a nice secondary result. But, as many people have pointed out, there are lots of places where we don't get involved.

(I happen to think Kottke's being too cynical about this being principally an economic opportunity and I think the bad explanation thing is not the main point internationally. More on that in a minute.)

I've been assessing Bush these days, too. I heard a very interesting interview on NPR with Richard Brookhiser, the author of The Mind of George W Bush in The Atlantic Monthly. It was complementary in a lot of ways. Bush is decisive. Brookhiser described it differently, but I conclude that Bush really has principles that drive him and enable decision-making.

The problem is, I think his principles are too facile. I think they're too simplistic. I disagree with his perspective of what's best for America and our role in the world. Doesn't it boil down to domestic wealth and morals and international unilateralism? I'm not as hard on Bush as Kottke is. I'll give him partial credit for good intentions. But I think the results are largely the same.

Which brings up something else I read this week: the cover stroy of last week's Newsweek: Why the World Hates Us:The Arrogant Empire. America's unprecedented power scares the world and the Bush administration has only made it worse. This is the foremost reason, I believe, why other nations ahve not supported the disarmament of Iraq: they're trying to band together to put a leash on us. And I can't blame them. For years we were more benevolent. We encouraged alliances and diplomacy. Now Americans (by and large) are sick of diplomacy and the UN. But it turns out that the only thing worse than the UN and it's circus and inefficiency and the corruption of its nations is no UN at all.

Bush has not been interested in the world. He has not travelled. He wanted less foreign involvement. His major plank of foreign policy in the campaign was less 'nation building'. It reminds me now of the naive Jimmy Carter, thinking he could do things in Washinton a new way, without the politics. Didn't Bush think we could get by without the diplomacy?

After September 11th, now that we've got a war, the uninterested Bush has become the strong, hawkish Bush, aligning with conservatives who want to make the world safe for America (and it's corporations).

Clinton had no principles and couldn't decide. But I'll take his foreign policy any day.

After this war, President Bush and his Administration are going to find that they need diplomacy. They are going to find that they have a big hole to dig themselves out of. Just sending in the troops won't work (and I hope they don't have to go again, to N Korea or Iran or Palestine). I don't see us being able to get much done.

I don't see USAmericans caring, either. At this rate, we'll get four more years of Bush and a worsening international situation, probably with the UN just barely holding onto legitimacy, and NATO less-so.

Fareed's conclusion is powerful:

There are many specific ways for the United States to rebuild its relations with the world. It can match its military buildup with diplomatic efforts that demonstrate its interest and engagement in the world’s problems. It can stop oversubsidizing American steelworkers, farmers and textile-mill owners, and open its borders to goods from poorer countries. But above all, it must make the world comfortable with its power by leading through consensus. America’s special role in the world—its ability to buck history—is based not simply on its great strength, but on a global faith that this power is legitimate. If America squanders that, the loss will outweigh any gains in domestic security. And this next American century could prove to be lonely, brutish and short.

Further, I would say that eroding the goodwill of other nations, looking like a bully, will make our nation much less secure than any amount of defense spending can remedy. We can't failsafe national security. Better to invest in international goodwill.

This is something this administration has not done. The attacks of Septembet 11th cried for a change of foreign policy. They attacks were monstrous and worng. But they demand self-examination, not self-righteousness.
Second apology: for those of you who tried to get into the Tulsa Invitational, there were a lot of problems. Only five of us got in. So sorry if that was frustrating, too.

That said, I'm kicking butt. I'm leading and I'm really happy with my picks. I picked fewer upsets this year.

By my count, there have been 12 upsets, 6 of which I picked right (including Mich St over Fl, which I love). I sure wish now that I'd picked Maryland. That one I should have seen coming.

I picked 8 upsets so far and 6 of them were right. Should've put some money down, aye?

I picked the first round of the West and Midwest brackets totally right!

So what was my strategy? I was more conservative this year, in general. A lot of my picking is who I want to win. I picked all 4 9 seeds and 3 of them won (and NCS almost did). It just so happened that I liked all of the 9 seeds better than the 8 seeds they were playing. I looked for places to pick up upsets - overrated teams like Creighton and Memphis (and I generally pick against John Calipari). I once preferred the Big Ten and ACC, but that has mostly evaporated. I picked against Billy Donovan as soon as I could.

That's pretty much it. Now you, too, can pick just like me.

But really, I can't take much credit. As you see, it's pretty unscientific. It's not even based on intuition.
We were gone for a week in North Carolina. Sorry I didn't post that I'd be gone. I should have.

Sunday, March 16

I was working on a glowing review of the Kansas game yesterday until they choked. I'm a closet Kansas fan because:

1. I like Roy Williams
2. They get better Iowa players than Iowa.

Hech, I might start calling it Kansas University of Iowa. When I want to make myself crazy I think about what the Iowa basketball program might be like if we'd been able to keep Lute Olson and attract the top Iowa talents that Roy Williams got - Raef LaFrenz, Kirk Heinrich, and Nick Collison. I still pull a lot for Lute and Roy and Kansas. However, this year I'm going to pick Kentucky to win it all. That's who Sagarin's got. And I like pulling for Tubby Smith. I'd love Roy Williams to prove me wrong, but he's been so snake bit in the tournament.

I'm managing a pool called The Tulsa Invitational. Come on in if you want. The password's 'invite'.

Friday, March 14

Here's something you might be interested in knowing: I spent the morning last saturday with the most excellent Collaborator, Jason Streed. It was a great time. Among many other very-smart things, Jason said you could get a better liberal arts education at Laputan Logic than at most schools.

Thursday, March 13

I was driving to meet the kids in Iowa at my parents house when I first heard Father and Daughter. I though it sounded like Paul Simon, but I didn't trust myself and googled more generally so it took me a long time to find out it really was Paul Simon. I certainly feel this about my daughter. (Listen to it with Flash.)

Wednesday, March 12

MP3 player. FM radio tuner. The ability to record FM as an MP3 in a portable format (ie, record All Things Considered for later). (via Matt)

The MeFi thread. Neuros. Archos. Empeg/Rio Car
Whoa. Matt redesigned. A little more old-school. A little more busy (background). Still easy on the eyes.
Warren Buffet is the man: two links from Robot Wisdom:

Berkshire Hathaway Posts Record Profit. Did you know their stock trades at 64,800$ a share?

Buffett Attacks Greedy CEOs on Scandals. The dude is looking precoznizant these days.
Bush critique (via Robot Wisdom) review:

Many of these points are technically true (lack of evidence) but not very compelling.

"Their lives and their freedom matter little to Saddam Hussein--but Iraqi lives and freedom matter greatly to us."
There is little evidence to support the claim that Iraqi lives and freedom matter greatly to the U.S. government.

That's true, though the subsequent concern about Iraqi soldiers is not a material concern here - these things happen in war and it is unfortunate. It would have been nice to just take prisoners. But nice doesn't always happen.

"We will provide security against those who try to spread chaos, or settle scores…"
Given the utter failure of the United States to do this in Afghanistan--where the United States has refused to deploy peacekeeping forces outside of Kabul and rural areas have descended into an anarchy of feuding war lords, ethnic militias, and opium magnates--how can he expect to do this in Iraq?

Our peacekeeping is notoriously spotty. Of course, technically, we never promised nation-building in Afghanistan, and it was a more multi-national sort of thing.

Yes, our motives are suspect because of the oil.
Yes, our foreign policy record is checkered.
Yes, we have been in bed with terrorists before, and probably are now.
Yes, our unconditional support of Israel is inexcusable.

But, the UN is a joke where members, including the US, mostly try to get leverage for their won agenda, including simple arrogance (France).

And my own addition: I listened to some of Bush's speech thursday night and he's still saying our enemies are against freedom and that is totally not the major point.

It's important to read all of the sides. But I find myself agreeing less with Common Dreams on this topic. It strikes me more as unreconstructed liberalism that doesn't work. Too much of it is rhetoric (as is much/most of what Bush says).

I'm not totally against this war. I'm not totally for it. And I think the reality is that it will happen. And I think the projected aftermath won't be so bad. We'll for sure get evidence that Iraq had WMD, though I'm not sure we'll be able to trust that 'evidence'. Our government has lied before when they determined it was in our national interest.

Tuesday, March 11

Kottke has a link to The Tyranny of Email. As for me, I check it because I'm hoping for something stupendous and wonderful to buoy my spirits. Obviously, it doesn't happen as much as I would wish (of course, I don't prompt it with a lot of correspondance myself).

Monday, March 3

Other stuff (using 'interact' as an outboard brain):

science development timeline (via Robot Wisdom)

I dreamt about a one-handed keyboard, like the ones you chord with (eg). I was planning on re-learning QWERTY next, but maybe I should go one handed. Maybe not until Christine and I have separate computers.

Wait a minute. Don't they have single-handed arrangements for existing keyboards? EZ Keys might be interesting. There's half-QWERTY typing. This half-keyboard looks really good and can be carried around and used with the Palm. No more carting your laptop.

Yes, I am a total geek.

Why would I want to do such a thing? I think it'd be really boss to type letters with one hand and work the pointing device (typically mouse) with the other hand. I don't like switching back and forth.

Now I need to go outside and get some sunshine!
Kottke link: You can see Lance Armstrong's failed marriage coming on his wife's online journal. How very sad.

Saturday, March 1

The kids and I are going to Kansas City and Iowa this week, so the posting will be spotty, if any.
Kottke says Google is not a search company.