Saturday, May 31, 2008

Sunday night Bach



And a Paganini encore.

May 2008 Casualties For US Troops and Iraqi Troops and Civilians Lowest In Entire War -- By Far

19 American troops lost their lives in May, 2008, but four of them died from non-hostile causes.

480 Iraqi civilians and security forces were killed as well. But this is the first month that these fatalities dropped below 500, and only in October, November and December, 2007 were these casulties below 600/month.

If this trend continues, it will be hard to hide even though some will try.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Tolkien the jeffersonian

"Anyway the proper study of Man is anything but Man; and the most improper job of any man, even saints (who at any rate were at least unwilling to take it on), is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity. And at least it is done only to a small group of men who know who their master is. The medievals were only too right in taking 'nolo episcopari' ['I do not wish to be made a bishop'] as the best reason a man could give to others for making him a bishop." — J. R. R. Tolkien, via Liberal Fascism

Henry Kissinger revisited

Niall Ferguson has a very interesting review of Henry Kissinger and the American Century in the TLS.

“Kissinger … was above all a revolutionary.” … [T]his may come as something of a surprise. Kissinger a revolutionary? The man who told the Argentine junta’s Foreign Minister, Cesar Guzzetti: “We wish [your] government well”? The man who promised his South African counterpart to “curb any missionary zeal of my officers in the State Department to harass you”? The man who told the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet: “We are sympathetic with what you are trying to do here”? Yet Suri has a case to make, even if he does not make it more than obliquely. An integral part of Kissinger’s grand strategy was always to establish priorities. In order to check Soviet ambitions in the Third World – the full extent of which we have only recently come to appreciate – some unpleasant regimes had to be tolerated, and indeed supported. Besides the various Latin American caudillos, the Saudi royal family, the Shah of Iran and the Pakistani military, these unpleasant regimes also included (though the Left seldom acknowledged it) the Maoist regime in Beijing, which was already guilty of many more violations of human rights than all the right-wing dictators put together when Kissinger flew there for the first time in July 1971.
I copped that quoted bit from Chicago Boyz, who I thank for bringing it to my attention.

Friday Links


When crowds aren't all that wise.

The Kennedy-Krushchev Vienna talks for beginners.

Better, cheaper, faster solar cells.

How the Democrats slide the pork home.

Authentic DNA from ancient Vikings.

The musician's uncertainty principle.

Is it a country or a cause?

Useful built-in Windows commands.

The coming energy rationing.

How to unleash your creativity.

The unraveling of Al-Qaida?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Scott McClellan

"When he stood behind that podium, nobody believed a word he said. Now that he's saying bad things about the president, he's a Delphic oracle." — Rich Galen

Recession?

Now I went back and checked the numbers for the past 50 years and didn't find a single case of a recession—as calculated by the National Bureau of Economic Research—that started with or contained two straight quarters of positive GDP growth, much less three quarters. In a recent interview with the Financial Times, former Federal Reserve Chief Alan Greenspan admitted he was puzzled that the economy hasn't fallen off a cliff, given the housing crisis, credit crunch, and oil price surge. He told the FT: "A recession is characterized by significant discontinuities in the data.... It started off that way—there was a period of sharp discontinuity from December to March. But then it stopped.... No one knows how this tug of war will end—specifically, whether the financial crisis will end before it drags down the real economy." — James Pethokoukis

How about that?

I won something!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Disrespecting Obama

Obama, however, believes his own hype and is utterly humorless in defense of his own wonderfulness. As you recall, he threw Wright off the train, not because Wright is a wacko, anti-American nutjob, but because Wright “disrespected” Obama — a sentiment that made the Harvard educated, elitist Obama sound no different from the average Compton gangbanger who blows away the kid next door for “disrespecting” him. It strikes me that the only people who have a problem with this type of “disrespect” are those who (a) don’t respect themselves, (b) are pretty sure that they are not worthy of actual respect and (c) have no sense of humor!Bookworm Room

Wednesday Links


Why startups fail.

Leaders, not whiners.

The solution to poverty is—getting rich.

Lead exposure correlates with criminal behavior.

Using Python to work with the operating system.

Pajamas in Shanghai.

The short history of nerds, from Seuss to Obama.

The false narrative of American defeat.

The free trade paradox.

Diving for treasure with AUVs.

5 essential rules for negotiation.

Wishful thinking about oil.

Introducing Muxfind.

Cells beneath the water (water), cells beneath the mud.

A ray of housing hope?

An honor killing in Germany.

The Messiah of the red-diaper socialists?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Counting Paragraphs?

It appears that Doug Feith believes he can quantify the "shift" in Bush's rhetoric by counting paragraphs in speeches.
This change can be quantified: In the year beginning with his first major speech about Iraq – the Sept. 12, 2002 address to the U.N. General Assembly – Mr. Bush delivered nine major talks about Iraq. There were, on average, approximately 14 paragraphs per speech on Saddam's record as an enemy, aggressor, tyrant and danger, with only three paragraphs on promoting democracy. In the next year – from September 2003 to September 2004 – Mr. Bush delivered 15 major talks about Iraq. The average number of paragraphs devoted to the record of threats from Saddam was one, and the number devoted to democracy promotion was approximately 11.
Unfortunately, he appears to have forgotten to read the NY Times editorial page. It is understandable considering the treatment he has gotten and how his words have been twisted at times. One would think he would know better than to get into that game. From the NY Times of February 27, 2003:
President Bush sketched an expansive vision last night of what he expects to accomplish by a war in Iraq. Instead of focusing on eliminating weapons of mass destruction, or reducing the threat of terror to the United States, Mr. Bush talked about establishing a ''free and peaceful Iraq'' that would serve as a ''dramatic and inspiring example'' to the entire Arab and Muslim world, provide a stabilizing influence in the Middle East and even help end the Arab-Israeli conflict.


More to the point Feith acts as if the situation in Iraq is something relatively static, like a mountain, rather than something dynamic and changing. Bush has not communicated well, but Feith, of all people, ought to know what bad press is. Maybe Feith didn't communicate well or everyone would understand his position instead of the caricature he is made out to be. Isn't he writing a book to set the record straight?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Quote

Dismissing Arabs as a nation culturally and historically incapable of adopting democracy is just plain racist. But it is a bigotry that is not only tolerated in leftist circles but rather openly and proudly displayed because it stands in opposition to George Bush’s vision for the Middle East. So much for the honesty and solidarity of liberalism.Nibras Kazimi


Fascinating blog by a freedom-loving Arab.

Sunday Links


The war we are in is the war we must win.

Logic puzzles.

Protecting the right to remove your right to breathe.

How to read a business book.

Requiring and demanding.

Could global warming be good for New Orleans?

A helping hand for Ahmadinejad.

From the stomachs of gators.

The coming Senate massacre.

The 25 best websites for travel.

Friday, May 23, 2008

If You Want Irrefutable Proof That BHO Is Too Naive To Be President

...that would be his selection of the Red Witch of Chappaqua as his running mate.

There are so many reasons this would be a bad idea, but the main one is that no one with an ounce of common sense or judgment would purposely put himself in harm's way with the most calculating politician of her generation waiting breathlessly in the wings.

Especially with the bad precedent set the last time two Senators ran on the Democratic ticket, one of whom, the VP, was renowned for extraordinary political cunning.

Friday Links


Rebuilding from the ground up.

Phone home with neutrinos, not photons.

"The single most pernicious threat to liberty today is humanity's natural
tendency to misunderstand the statistics of rare events."

20 online language resources.

Darkness at New England noon, explained.

Teach yourself: Egyptian Hieroglyphs.

T. Boone Pickens picks wind.

Half the missing matter in the universe found.

More handouts for all the special interests.

The Big Brother database.

Climate science not quite settled after all.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

IRAQ CASUALTIES DOWN SIGNIFICANTLY IN MAY

Through today, 14 of our troops were killed this month. The rate is .73/day. While one fatality is too many, this is the lowest number and rate for the entire war.

This site has the stats.

The next lowest rate was .83/day last December, and only one other month, February, 2004 had a rate less than one per day (.79).

Despite all of the stuff going on in Sadr City, the Iraq death toll is way way down as well. In May, 2007, for example, there were 1980 Iraqi combat and civilian deaths. Thus far with 9 days to go, there are 389. That, I think, is almost more remarkable than the reduction in US KIA, and is contrary to the impression I had even with regularly reading the milblogs.

I sure haven't seen seen this information in the press or on TV, has anyone else?

One month is not a trend, of course, but this looks encouraging. If this trend line is maintained through the fall, it may have a salutary effect on the election.

Is that canny old bastard Rove preparing an October surprise for BHO?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

QOTD


I suppose New York would be less governed and represented if we made all adulterers resign . . . Which would not be a bad outcome, come to think of it.— Lisa Schiffren

Monday, May 19, 2008

Please, Santa


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A new book on the scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon accuses then-White House counsel John Dean of ordering the infamous Watergate break-in in 1972


I don't need anything else for Christmas, if this is only true.

Dear Barack:

I'm sitting in my air-conditioned apartment, and I just ate fried chicken for dinner, followed by the small portion of chocolate M&M's I allow myself.

I don't recall having asked the rest of the world for their opinion. Should they care to offer an opinion, I would be quite happy to refer them to the complaints department. In the Christian theological place of eternal punishment. With my firm suggestion that they repair to that location, along with the conveyance upon which they arrived.

Yours sincerely,

Seneca

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sunday Links


The day there was no news.

Viagra for the brain.

Just how cooked are the Republicans?

8 bombs in an Indian jewel.

Goodbye Matlab, hello Python.

Melodrama and villains in place of facts and honesty.

Seeing the present before we can.

The challenge from China.

The new Great Redeemer.

Encrypt your GMail.

Why Hillary's campaign failed—the inside scoop.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday Links


Introducing brand tags.

The Presidential messiah.

US Navy electronics training series.

The World Wide Telescope is finally released.

Is neural Buddhism the future of post-cognitive religion?

[Update: See also Steven Novello's blog, and this response on Explorations.]


1001 movies you must see before you die.

Cool under pressure.

Nukes and Gitmo—gotta have 'em.

Have a free music studio.

What an honest candidate would be telling us.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Uh, yeah

Andy McCarthy at NRO:

What is it about the vision of democracy that makes the mind go ga-ga? The AP reports that, having arrived in Jersualem, "President Bush said Wednesday that 60 years of Israel's existence is cause for optimism for democratic change throughout the Middle East. 'What happened here is possible everywhere.'"

So the existence of a democracy with strong Western ties that sprang to life as a democracy with strong Western ties is cause for optimism that the hundreds of millions of Muslims surrounding it — many of whom openly seek its destruction when not brazenly calling for its destruction — will democratize notwithstanding the utter absence of a democratic tradition and a belief system that is resistant (indeed, hostile) to Western democracy in several particulars.


Sure as hell will do so more than the collapse, or the non-existence, of a democracy with strong western ties in the area would.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wednesday Links


The taint of '68.

Electricity misconceptions.

When gangs rule.

What's privacy worth when you can prosecute dog poop.

Your side, my side, and the truth.

What happened to all the scary evangelicals?

Men who needed to love somebody who would let them.

The rise of the airship.

Stand up to cartoon intimidation.

The coming wave of femtotechnology.

Is America really that weak?

Meet the BabyLosers.

Ripping away any pretense that she actually stands for something.

Love and death.

Will there be a Web 3.0?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Friday, May 09, 2008

A new word is born


Chinglish refers to the mistranslation of Chinese into English that often time yields quite twisted, and entertaining, incorrect meanings. Examples can be found at this web site.

A screwed up translation is an understandable mistake. Even more perplexing are native English speakers who quite effectively simulate Chinglish.

The sign to the left is a pretty good example of that.

I suppose, after a longer time spent pondering it then is reasonable, that it is reserving parking spots for customers who've placed time consuming orders and will have to park and wait for them to keep the line moving.

Still... does a business really want to put up a sign that makes people laugh over what idiots they are? Even more astonishing, the sign's wording was probably thrashed out in endless meetings, memos and conversations. Didn't a single person visualize how that sign would read when it was erected?

I hereby name such stupidity Committeelish.

Friday Links


China's scary nationalistic generation.

Combat vs. composure.

Eyes bigger than a soccer ball.

75 skills for men.

The unhappiest millionaire.

Smarter isn't always better.

50 games in one semester.

Flying saucers with plasma propulsion.

The psycho ex-girlfriend of the Democratic party.

35 free languages.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Wednesday Links


Dartmouth's hostile atmosphere.

Philosophy and AI.

Charlie Rose's take.

Pandering at the pump.

Chinese gamers are different.

PJ O'Rourke tells it like it is, to the graduates.

Red Ken passes.

Wire-tapping is easy.

Yet another top 100 films list.

Water gives up the secret of its provenance.

The bicycle lift (we need these in Redmond).

Daily cyberattacks against India.

What the news from Iraq means.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

So there

As people say in my neighborhood: “The Americans are now Ansar al Sunna.” Protectors of the Sunni.


The New York Times.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Microsoft-Yahoo the Aftermath

Well, one nice thing about having nobody else who wants to post here much is that I can post as much of my trademarked meaninless drivel as I care to.

Today's topic: let's analyze the Yahoo-Microsoft deal. Now that I've had a couple of nights to sleep on it I feel like spewing my thoughts. Had it occurred it would have been the biggest tech tie-up ever. Here are some random thoughts of mine as they occur to me in no particular order. Most is speculation which is probably worth as much as you are paying for it.

  • The genesis of this deal was on Wall Street, not the West Coast. For months, if not years, I've been hearing rumors coming from New York that Microsoft and Yahoo were going to, or should, be mating. I surmise that after hearing this for long enough, Ballmer became convinced.
  • It's a real dumb idea. There's a huge amount of overlap between the two companies which would not lead to efficiencies or synergies but simply to a bunch of people and code being dumped. A little waste is ok, but this is way too much money to just be playing around with.
  • The meta-message coming from Ballmer is that Microsoft can't do the web. He says otherwise; he says he has a plan. That's just BS. Ballmer has always been one of the premier BS artists working in corporate America today.
  • Ballmer is clueless what to do next. He has no "Plan B".
  • Ballmer apparently thinks that people out there like Microsoft. He's even more clueless about the real world than I can imagine.
  • Ballmer's coming in with his top price as his very first offer was—how to say this nicely?—brain-dead beyond belief. Most Third Graders could do a better job negotiating.
  • Looking beyond search, the whole company is a mess. Windows Vista is actually a good product, but you'll have to look long and hard before you can find anybody who agrees with you. Office 2007 may very well be the best software the company has ever produced, but you'll never find Microsoft saying that. Windows Mobile has no answer to the iPhone, the Zune is a joke and the XBox just barely breaks even.
  • The company reeks "lost". What's the strategic vision? There doesn't seem to be any at all. What's the goal? Why do we need a Zune? What does XBox have to do with Office? Why are they even in the same company?
  • There appears to be no upside possible in MSFT stock now. At what point will the stockholders become tired of this?
  • Is it necessary for MSFT to do search?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Noooooooo...


Long time readers of Flares will know that I've long had a fascination with the Turkmenbashi, the previous ruler of Turkmanistan who is currently pushing up daisies. Among his many eccentricities, he busily worked at creating a Cult of Personality surrounding himself. Naturally, this included giant statues of himself -- the most famous being the Neutrality Arch, which featured a gold played statue of the Turkmenbashi which rotated to always face the sun.

Recently, Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, the new President of of Turkmanistan, has decide to move the Neutrality Arch from downtown Ashgabat to the suburbs. Man, will the indignities never end? Next they be changing the names of the week back to what they were before.

Hmmm... if they're getting rid of those statues, I wonder if my neighbors would mind if I bought one an erected it in my front yard?

Sunday Links


The rise of the rest.

Women to avoid.

Paul Nylander's differential equations blog.

Robobugs coming to a war near you.

More women to avoid.

Young FrankenSteve.

Introducing the smell phone.

Talking with ultraviolet.

A pathetic, impotent, washed-up old giant.

Taking pictures of things you can't see.

How Did the iPhone Get Made?

I don't know and I'm sure I'll never know. But this anonymous post on the minimsft blog is at least interesting.

Anonymous said...

Your Apple analogy is a little off too in that Apple will never have Microsoft's position because it sells a bound hardware-software system

Agree TOTALLY on MSFT mis-management. You wont get ANY arguments here on that one!

Disagree TOTALLY on Apple. Jobs is a megalomaniac of the highest order, but he is also a GENIUS and a brilliant strategist that really never loses (plus he has charisma, so when he's as asshole, people LOVE him more)

He has reinvented Apple time and time again.

The integrated stack is their power. He either had great luck or great forsight in allowing Bill to create the PC industry (which took big diversity, an ecosystem and tons of partners) while he stayed monolithic and waited for it all to become a commodity.

Once its a commodity, people just want the "one that works and looks pretty" and "rule of the geek" is over. Thats now and BAM enter Jobs. Thus Apple market share climbs and he hasnt really done much at all except stick with the formula and make two GREAT moves:

1) leverage his work at NeXT to flush legacy MacOS thus getting BIG reward for MINIMAL investment since most of the work was done and MacOS was a dinosaur

2) switch to Intel thus gaining parts parity with the PC and opening the door for shit like bootcamp

While that was cooking he essentially took total ownership of portable audio (embarassing Sony, MSFT, Amazon, and all of the MP3 player industry) and then entered the phone business, turned the model UPSIDE down (something MSFT has INSISTED cant happen) and beaten the hell out of Win Mobile.

All of these moves required BIG balls and ruthlessness. Without going into a lot of detail, I am privy to some behind the scenes iPhone chatter pre-ATT deal and it was PURE hardball "YOU NEED US DINOSAUR!" type talk to all of the big names you can imagine.

And what happened? He was right and he won. Does anyone talk about or care about his hardball with other CEOs? NO! why would they?! Why SHOULD they???

ONLY MSFT gets ideological analysis. Thats the core of my point.

The current generation is lost, to be honest. My interest lies in fixing this LONG term which is why I am VERY bullish on XBox (an unpopular topic here, but the folks here are wrong on this)

I donate time to inner city schools and talk to kids. Kids that dont know WHAT MSFT is LOVE XBox. Kids that think Apple IS the only computer, LIVE on XBox Live.

XBox is our ONE remaining brand brightspot for the next generation. We have a narrow window to capitalize on it and fix things.

Anyone who thinks this sounds "ruthless" or "shallow" just really doesnt understand the realities of business well.

You will have ups and downs with products, but long term, your brand power will keep you alive. Without it, the greatest product in the world wont sell at all. History is litered with examples.

Saturday, May 03, 2008 9:56:00 PM

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Hallelujah! (should that read "Yahoooooo!"?)

Steve Ballmer just sent out an email to all Microsoft employees notifying us of the withdrawal of the takeover offer for Yahoo. I guess it finally dawned on him that they don't like us and they were going to do everything in their power to stop this process. I am happy to have a chief executive who is capable of pulling back from the brink.

Update: Apparently Yang & Co. were in Redmond today to try to close the deal. That and other interesting tidbits are found here.

Mini-msft (as always) provides the most honest insider view of the situation. Jives with everything I've heard.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Friday Links


All the streets.

When nerds go bad.

The longest sea-spanning bridge in the world.

Software to make you smarter.

The truth about tech startups.

Software to create DIVX and XVID.

Good writers write, great ones reuse.

Seeing the magnetic field.

Get some sleep.

The man in a glacier finds his modern descendants.

Uranium is no longer the heaviest.

Enforce the law and they won't come.

Causality.

From Russia, with love.

You can't kick this robot around any more.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

What the... ???



The above pictures are strange. They become even stranger when you realize that the old geezers are reenacting famous Vietnam pictures. I found them on the web, without an attached explanation. My search yielded nothing but the discovery that, like the Civil War era, Vietnam has groups that stage reenactments. Aside from that nothing.

I can't begin to imagine the series of circumstances that led to the old folks staging these pictures.