Tuesday, August 31

Eric's weblog

Eric has been stopping by 'interact' and commenting. Thanks, Eric. Check out his weblog: Streams of Consciousness.

Research: Korean War

I was reading Clancy's 'Special Forces' and got interested, in the Korean War. Here's a timeline
and a good map of the Korean Peninsula (though it doesn't have Inchon, which is due west of Seoul, on the Yellow Sea).

South Korean and UN forces got rocked almost off the peninsula. McArthur helped change the tide with the daring Inchon Invasion.

The Battle of Chosin Reservoir was largely a fighting retreat where the Marines distinguished themselves. If you read that link, here's the map.

And a bonus link, also research coming from Clancy: Russian Aircraft Carriers (synopsis: not much).

Monday, August 30

Cthulhu for president!

Don't settle for the lesser evil! (via Scott)

Check out the bumper sticker at Chaosium. Posted by Hello

Saturday, August 28

Alice Cooper v. politics

GREAT article about Alice Cooper's view of rock and politics. Nicely humble, too. (via Walter at Kith and Kin)

See, because, as Jonathan Demme says in Walter's other link (featuring a testy Denzel Washington):
It's fundamental to a democracy that you're not only permitted to speak out, you're supposed to have an opinion, you're supposed to speak out, you're supposed to engage in a discourse. And in this way, we arrive at ideas that can move us forward in a positive fashion. I wish everybody could get on TV and talk about how they feel. Maybe we'd learn something."
But it's best if that opinion is informed, and some of those stars' opinions aren't very informed, now, are they? And most of them aren't nuanced, which is something I value.

From the news

Duke gives out iPods. Don't see how this will be educationally advantageous, but, ok.

Israel Denies Spying on American Allies. There's no doubt in my mind that Israel is spying on us and that we're spying on them.

Bush Targets Key States Ahead of RNC. This is one thing that's wrong with our electoral system, of course: presidential candidates, including Kerry, only have to pay attention to the 'swing state'. That's not good for representative government, for paying attention to people's concerns.

Another, maybe minor criticism: these guys have jobs they're getting paid to do right now. Are they so light that they can spend so much time working on campaigning?

Kerry, Greenspan Differ on Social Security. Kerry says, "I will never privatize Social Security. I will not cut Social Security benefits. And I will not raise the retirement age." He may not, but I bet all three of these things will happen: the first as a result of market pressures, and all three as a result of factors that will begin to emerge soon. The smart money is on Social Security being totally different by the time most of us get to it than it is today. But you don't have to be psychic to know that.

Democrats Seek More Benefits for Iraq Reservists. I've written about this before and it makes sense to me.

Powell Scraps Plan to Attend Olympics Ceremony. Or, alternatively, Greek hooligans embarrass their nation again. They have a right to behave this way, but it's still asinine. 'Later, about 1,500 members of the Greek Communist Party peacefully marched through Athens chanting "Get the Killer Imperialists Out of Greece."' I didn't know there were any true-believing communists left in the world. I wonder if the Greek government asked Powell not to come. It would certainly be a reasonable request.

Friday, August 27

Good move, President Bush

You don't see me write that very often, do you? I admit I'm biased. But I think Bush's move to go ahead and expand the powers of the CIA Director is a good one.

A couple more Olympic thoughts

I haven't said near enough about Michael Phelps who was unbelievable and comported himself really well.

The (mostly Greek?) spectators sure have been unruly, eg in the 200 meter men's track final and and the men's gymnastics individual apparatus. Poor show.

Really angry...

You've got to be kidding me...

FIG is asking Paul Hamm for his medal back.

I really can't believe it. Let's review the reasons this is a really bad idea:
  1. Paul should not be penalized for a judges' error.
  2. FIG initially said the protest was not filed soon enough after the mistake.
  3. Watching the tape, the supposed winner had too many grips, resulting in a a two tenths deduction, actually dropping him out of the medals.
At least the IOC has the good sense to know this issue is over.

Am I missing something here?

McCain, the King-Maker

(The President Maker? The Fresh Maker?)

Man, these guys are falling over themselves to please McCain.

I don't see how the FEC can rule against these people. Citizens should be allowed to campaign against a candidate, right? Even though I called for Bush to denounce the Anti-Kerry ads, I still think citizens should have a right to run them. If the concern in the ads is soft money, clamp down on soft money to independent groups. But independent groups should be able to express what they want.

Interesting that McCain is still calling on Bush to do more to stop the ads and the Kerry campaign is still accusing the Bush campaign of collusion. I wonder if this will 'stick' to Bush. I wonder if, politically, it would have been better form Bush to denounce the ads from the start. Or has the damage done been worthwhile?

A longer article about McCain's role, including a new request for Kerry to pull another as about Bush smearing other veterans, including McCain.

This political posturing, on both sides, is both detestable and wearying, aye? I wonder if I'll stop commenting on it soon...

Bush Admits Iraq 'Miscalculations'

I think this is a good move by the president. I sure respect people more who can admit error on some level (though this one might be characterized as 'because it was easier than we feared').

Bush said that Americans will re-elect him to a second term even if they disagree with his decision to invade Iraq.

Bush said voters "know who I am and I believe they're comfortable with the fact that they know I'm not going to shift principles or shift positions based upon polls and focus groups."

Bush told USA Today that "the American people have seen me make the hardest of decisions. That's just going to have to be a part of their decision-making process."
He makes no mention of the fact that lots of people hate him. I guess my point here is that I find these assurances of victory in the future tense annoying from all condidates. Is that supposed to communicate confidence? It communicates 'rhetoric' to me.

Thursday, August 26

Various and sundry

Gregg Easterbrook writes for a long time. I wouldn't recommend reading it all. But I do think the DC team would be better named the Wohnata. (via Cav Lec)

Jason's Best thing I've seen at the Olympics post.

Kottke discovers New Order (including an mp3 of Kylie Monogue singing 'Can't get you out of my head' to 'Blue Monday' posted by Lia in the comments).

Look out: there are TWO posts on Collaboratory!

Tuesday, August 24

Paul won fair and square

A couple links for the front page that came out in the comments:

First, an uninformative jab at the complainers.

Second, a couple of reasons why Hamm won by himself.

Monday, August 23

Dismantle and reorg intelligence now? Bad idea

That's the new proposal. I trust this won't come to pass. Maybe I'm not hearing enough of the other side, but this sounds like a bad proposal.

Google IPO analysis

I'm a financial hack, but I agree with the opinion quoted and linked by kottke. One part:

Wall Street can spin this however it wants. But Google went public without underwriting from a major investment bank, without handing out favours to well-connected executives and without dictating a price in the manner of Soviet central planners. Because it did, it now has hundreds of millions of dollars that it would not otherwise have had. By any standard, this was one IPO that worked.

This makes me the tertiary source, right?

Saturday, August 21

Site design wishlist

Now that I've been stuck with the Blogger NavBar (which I don't really mind, especially in black, I wish that I could center my yellow title bar and split the current right margin equally on the left and right. Anyone know how to do that?

(I'm totally overdue for a redesign. If you look at the source you'll be frightened by how it's been cobbled together over the last 4+ years. But it works.)

My one list over at Amazon

Did I ever link the Resources for Tolkien Purists I put up over on Amazon? I saw in the Meme Tracker that someone came over looking for "Sean Meade". So I thought I'd check out what that search produces these days. And my list on the first page of results. And I decided to post it here. So there you have it.

Paul Hamm's win, redux

Now the officials are saying the guy from South Korea should have won the gold. These things happen in sports.

That doesn't take anything away from Paul's performance, of course. It might take a little away from the medal. What do you think?


(Not least of all because I've been playing an Ancient Med scenario on Civ3 that's pretty fun. I've sent some of those Roman triremes down :-)

Group Finds Ancient Ships Off Italy Coast, including one from the 1st century AD.

Kerry fights back

He's coming out guns blazing over the criticisms of his war record, which, apparently (and surprisingly to me), are hurting him in the polls. Yesterday he said Bush is using others to do his dirty work. I don't disagree.

Scott McClellan said yesterday, "I do think that Senator Kerry losing his cool should not be an excuse for him to lash out at the president with false and baseless attacks."

But I don't think they're baseless. Kerry said if Bush won't renounce the ads and the attacks, then he's complicit in them. Makes sense to me.

McClellan said, "We've already said we weren't involved in any way in these ads," he said. "We've made that clear."

I don't think that's far enough.

It's all interesting to observe.

Winning team sports is not rocket science

We watched 'Miracle' yesterday for the first time. Then I read in SI today about De LaSalle High School with their 151 games winning streak (it's not what you think, rather very humble, low budget, no recruiting, mostly average kids.

I conclude the keys to winning team sports are:

1. Playing as a team. Doing what's best for the team. Refusing to let the team down.
2. Working harder than your opponents, especially in conditioning.
3. Focus, dedication, commitment.
4. Strong coaches who lead.

And it helps if, like De LaSalle and unlike the 1980 USA Hockey Team, winning isn't the most important thing.

Furthermore, I imagine this approach is more rewarding.

The USA Olympic Basketball (Team) is playing right now, and I'm not watching it.

I don't guess we're ever going to learn...

I put my strategy for a winning NFL team back on the table: Conform to the guidelines above. Be willing to take less salary for the sake of winning championships. Build a cohesive unit on both sides of the ball. Simple, right? I don't think the Patriots are actually too far away from this.

(Ironically, Tom Brady's uncle is the prinicpal of De LaSalle, and not a football fan.)

(And, no, I'm not referring to the Pats to tweak you, Jaq. It's just a nice fringe benefit :-)

Lousy realpolitik

Here's the thinking, I suppose:

1. Sharon is our best chance for peace in the Middle East.
2. He's getting hammered.
3. We'll help him by supporting more settlements.

But, for my part, I think it damages our already unsteady integrity in the Middle East. I think we should hold firm on the settlements.

Ok, what do we do, then, if some hard-liner gets elected in Israel? Could we back off aid? Would that be possible? Would it be advisable? I don't know.

Friday, August 20

Is Google doing evil?

WorldNetDaily: Google bans Christian ad: Anti-homosexual remarks considered 'hate' content

(I'll be the first to admit I don't get my news from WorldNetDaily because I don't care for their slant on the world, but I think they're onto something this time.)

Is Google doing evil? They say 'Don't be evil.' But this is discrimination in their ad service. At least it's not in their actual search results. Still, go look at the site. It does not promote hate as defined in the email Google sent to Stand to Reason:

"Google AdWords policy never permits ads or keywords promoting hate, violence, or crimes toward any organization, person or group protected by law," including those distinguished by their "sexual orientation/gender identity."

Are anti-abortion ads next?

This week's sign that the end of the world is upon us...

Man ordered to pay pet support

Thursday, August 19

Congratulations, Paul Hamm

That was an amazing performance last night. Paul can win up to four more medals on individual events, too. Go on, Paul.

Wednesday, August 18

My comment...

on Matthew's typically funny 'flying with the Squirrelly' post:

yes, taking children on flights is horrifying. my wife flew with our twins and no other adult assistance (read: doubleteamed), and i still don't know how she did it. i couldn't even have planned the thing without a sedative.

lots of people swear by giving your children Benadryl for such ordeals, but we never tried it.

when Christine flew with the twins she had to buy an extra seat (b/c she only had one lap). but when we flew together, we always just kept the kids on our laps without buying them a seat (b/c we're poor and cheap). this worked everytime with no adverse affects, except the time i was supposed to be seated next to two ginormous women, travelling together. the domino effect of their spilling over seats left no room for the infant travelling with me, not to mention me. i had the flight attendant reseat us.

Tuesday, August 17

Jason put up...

some fun pix of Clay

West Bank settlers: Am I missing something here?

This article says Sharon is trying to pull out of the Gaza strip, but he's trying to stave off a Likud mutiny by allowing more settlers in the West Bank. I don't see how more settlers on contested land while trying to make peace can be an ok thing. How about you?

Monday, August 16

Two unrelated

Cory posts WiFi hotspots at Disney World (where we're hoping to visit sometime this year).

And, just for the heck of it, I'll link Top 50 Fast Food Chains (which came from kottke). You have to add BK, Wendy's, and Subway together to get close to McDonald's in sales.

National Guard and Reserve money

This article prompted me to post about the financial hardships to National Guard and Reserve Troops. I personally know the dependents of two guys who have been affected by this. One, a lawyer, lost his practice in the first Gulf War and had to start over. The second has three sr hi and college aged boys and is losing a lot of income.

Do we pay these folks while they're on duty? I don't know how we'd afford it, but I can't believe we don't pay them more for their service.

Ironically, a lot of people serve in these capacities to make extra money. But if you get called up, as we're seeing a lot now, it's a real hit.

Sunday, August 8

The Snowflake Process for Writing

Burying a link here, in case I ever start writing.

(And I'd be interested in your take, Jaq.)

Affectionate patriarchs

Paul links an interesting article from Christianity Today about the sociology of churchgoing, Evangelical fathers. This research gives the lie to some of the things we hear about Christians, like they divorce at the same rate as nonChristians. Non-church-going, self-identifying Evangelical fathers divorce and abuse at a higher than average rate. But church-going Evangelical fathers divorce and abuse at a much lower rate than average.

Saturday, August 7

Greg Maddux: 300

Congratulations, Mr Maddux. Glad to have you back at home.

Friday, August 6

Spider-Man 2 review

Interesting that they didn't have some fancy name for it.

I really loved this movie. I thought it was better than the first one. Matthew's review prompted me to do my own.

The 'woe-is-me' beginning got long. I still don't see how a superhero could respond to every siren.

Matthew didn't like the characterization of Doctor Octopus, but I really did. It was nice, for once, to see a villain who was bent on some personal goal, personal glory, without just wanting to destroy stuff. Sure, he'd wipe out anyone to get to his goal, but that worked for me. I also liked the arms' AI battle with Octavius thing.

The fight scenes between Spider-Man and Doc Ock were awesome. The speed alone was very impressive.

Great, overall. Wondering how much Wil can will be able to watch when it comes out on DVD...


Pretty nice usage of flash to animate acoustic version of 'Creep'. Be sure to watch to the end. (via Boing Boing)

Wednesday, August 4

Lori Fischer

I just had a good conversation with my friend, Lori Fischer. She's a writer and actress in NYC, sister of my good friend, Robbi. Check out her website (especially if you need a good children's CD: Babbaganoosh, The Big Silly Goose.)

Reading the 9/11 Commission Executive Summary

( I read kottke's html version. He's got a post pointing to some of the different versions.)

+ Missed Opportunities: the ones that stand out to me are the last three (beginning): 'not expanding no-fly lists to include names from terrorist watchlists; not searching airline passengers identified by the computer-based CAPPS screening system; and not hardening aircraft cockpit doors or taking other measures to prepare for the possibility of suicide hijackings'. The last one, I think, would have made the biggest difference. I'm confident no one will ever hijack an airliner with box cutters again. But we just weren't prepared for that tactic.

+ Everything in the 'Capabilities' section could have been fixed. Sure. hindsight is 20/20. And we're majorly limited in a democracy by the politicization of some of these issues, not least of all through budgeting.

+ 'The CIA had minimal capacity to conduct paramilitary operations with its own personnel, and it did not seek a large-scale expansion of these capabilities before 9/ 11' (line 546). I don't think they would have gotten this expansion, in the pre-9/11 enrvironment. But they might need it to fight terrorism (cf my 'Imperial Hubris' post).

+ Lack of military options: Again, referencing my post on 'Imperial Hubris', we're going to have to dial down what we regard as 'actionable intelligence' if we want to fight this war militarily. Operatives on the ground have to be given more authority. Is that what we want? I'm not sure.

+ '(853) So long as oversight is undermined by current congressional rules and reso-lutions, we believe the American people will not get the security they want and need. The United States needs a strong, stable, and capable congressional com-mittee structure to give America's national intelligence agencies oversight, sup-port, and leadership.' I'm sure this is true.

+ '(957) Attack Terrorists and Their Organizations': Yes! Strengthen our commitment to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Sort out our relationship with the Saudis, if possible. What about Iraq? And are they going to mention the situation in Palestine/Israel? One direction here would be to support work of an Authority there without Arafat (who has proven untrustworthy).

+ I have trouble imagining '(986) Define the message and stand as an example of moral leadership in the world.' What would this even look like? I think it'd require more interest in other nations' national interest. We've pulled out of so many treaties that others care about. Our corporations do so much of what they like. Our 'entertainment' exports are immoral.

+ '(1009) Develop a comprehensive coalition strategy against Islamist terrorism, using a flexible contact group of leading coalition governments and fashioning a common coalition approach on issues like the treatment of captured terrorists.' But we've acted unilaterally and thumbed our noses at many other governments.

Overall, I don't think we could have effectively fought this battle before something bad happened. The public and political will were not there.

And, finally, just as I feared, there's almost no mention, at least in the summary, of foreign policy, the behavior of multinational corporations, or international media responsibility.

Proposed names for the impending plague

Especially interesting because I just sped through 'Due preparations for the plague' by Janette Turner Hospital, wherein the plague is terrorism.

Anyway, Matthew's got some zingers in here. I especially agree with the seventh and ninth.

Lance and Ken (and Jason)

I composed, in my head, a post about Lance Armstrong and Ken Jennings (on Jeopardy) and how I was watching them both dominate and enjoying it. Jason Kottke was thinking about the same stuff, too. And so was David Jacobs. This last one added Kottke to his list of dominators. Maybe so...

Interview with Lance

PL: Lance, one moment that impressed us as you came home for that sprint with Basso as you came up the Plateau was you sat up, rode no handed, pulled your zip up, and proceeded to win the stage – what was going on?

LA: Well I knew I was on a good day and I knew we were going to come to the line together and it was going to be a sprint. I knew I wasn’t going to get worse than second(!) and I knew I had a good chance of winning and it’s the responsible thing to do. You zip it up and make sure that the people who make it possible for you to do the things you do are represented on the front pages of the newspapers around the world.

cite (you might have to register)

Dude's got the strength and presence of mind after 100+ miles to zip up his jersey for the sake of his advertisers. Unbelievable...

Tuesday, August 3

RAGBRAI: wrapup

Well, we finished up RAGBRAI shortly after noon on Saturday. I almost made it through without crashing. But I was going too fast through the turn (something else I really like to do on RAGBRAI) and the lady in front of me cut her line in and tried to go a round outside of her but couldn't hold it and bought the shoulder and took out the sign: lost skin on both legs and right elbow. Oh well. The bike needs a check-up, too.

RAGBRAI was great. I'm definitely interested in doing it again next year. Anyone with me?