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May 2008 Archives

May 30, 2008

About Media and Liberalism

By Armed Liberal at 20:39

Quotes from a LA Times article on editorial cartooning, all the more interesting because they are made in passing:

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  • David Blue: I mean, there's sometimes a high wire thrill to watching read more
  • David Blue: #6 from Edmund Burka "The media's job is to speak read more
  • Armed Liberal: Edmund - of course - because anyone who disagrees with read more

What If I Told You...

By Armed Liberal at 17:46

...that for a million bucks you could dramatically impact a Presidential campaign?

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  • Mark Buehner: "At a time when the Iraqis were committing war crimes read more
  • David Blue: #33 from Demosophist: "The Chief Mufti of Egypt, Ali Juma, read more
  • Coldtype: Clearly the issue isn't US intentions, but US leverage -Demosphist read more

Arabs think Israeli PM Olmert is a fool

By Donald Sensing at 15:50

But not because he's Jewish, Zionist or anything like that. It's because Olmert is only a little corrupt. Israeli-Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh writes in the Jeruslaem Post of some of the reactions across the Arab world to the intensifying pressures on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to resign because of corruption charges.

Among other things, Olmert is accused of accepting $150,000 in bribes from an American over a 14-year period, which Mr. Toameh said evoked this response from foreign Arabs.
"They say he received something like $3,000 a year," said Abu Atab from Morocco inaccurately. "This shows that Olmert is a decent man. This is a small sum that any Arab government official would receive on a daily basis as a bribe. Our leaders steal millions of dollars and no one dares to hold them accountable."

Touching on the same issue, a reader from Algeria posted this comment: "In the Arab world, our leaders don't accept less than $1 million in bribes; the money must be deposited in secret bank accounts in Switzerland. Olmert is a fool if he took only a small sum."

Another comment, this time from Ahmed in Jordan, also referred to the alleged amount: "Only a few thousand dollars? What a fool! This is what an Egyptian minister gets in a day or what a Saudi CEO gets in 45 minutes, or a Kuwaiti government official in five minutes. This is what the physician of the emir of Qatar gets every 30 seconds."

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  • Winston: Olmert must resign... read more
  • Jay C: I think another telling bit in this article is the read more
  • J Aguilar: It is astounding from the point of view of a read more

May 29, 2008

Steering By One's Sails...

By Armed Liberal at 16:23

It's a classic sailing error among the inexperienced; you steer to keep the sails filled, instead of optimizing where you want to go. So your course shifts with the wind with little consideration of covering ground toward where you really intend to go.

I thought about that today, in reading about the Anderson Cooper story on news media coverage in the runup to the war:

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  • Eric Chen: I think the US-Iraq history of the 12 years between read more
  • The Unbeliever: It sounds to me like the assumption is that if read more
  • Demosophist: It occurs to me that there's still a marked difference read more

When Bad Ideas Collide...

By Armed Liberal at 05:25

People ask me: "How do you come up with all those cool blog posts?" Not really.

But one surefire way is actually to do kind of a large-hadron collider (it should be the super-bozon collider, given most of what I read, but there are no bozons in physics, sadly...just bosons) and just slam one thing I read into another and see what kind of connection comes out.

With that as a preface, let me collide two things I read today: Thomas Frank's column about the American slander on elites in the WSJ, and an article on the EU's latest scheme to pull power away from those pesky people.

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  • Nicholas: "Nice country you have there, I'd hate for something to read more
  • The Unbeliever: If you don't actually think your better than us, than read more
  • alchemist: I know this doesn't exactly fit here, but every time read more

Looking For What One Expects

By Armed Liberal at 03:06

Longtime sparring partner Eric Martin, over at Democracy Arsenal, echoed super-Iraq-expert Juan Cole in pointing to the AP story on Al-Sistani moving closer to Al-Sadr by legitimizing attacks on Alliance troops - back on May 23.

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  • gabriel: Juan Cole, really, has it gotten that bad that WOC read more
  • Mark Buehner: Much like all the vaunted analysis that instantly (and far read more

May 28, 2008

Environmentalist religion explained

By Donald Sensing at 23:03
Freeman Dyson, one of the most highly-regarded physicists in the world:
There is a worldwide secular religion which we may call environmentalism, holding that we are stewards of the earth, that despoiling the planet with waste products of our luxurious living is a sin, and that the path of righteousness is to live as frugally as possible. [From, "The Question of Global Warming."]
Dyson is not the first to point out that environmentalism has morphed into an actual religion in its own right. In Global Cooling Ain't so Hot, Either, I pointed out:
Michael Crichton and J.R. Dunn have written highly insightful essays about how environmentalism is a religion in its own right. See “Environmentalism as Religion” by Crichton and Dunn’s piece, “A Necessary Apocalypse,” in which he shows how gobal-warming environmentalism is not merely a religion, it is an apocalyptic religion. Its deity is Mother Earth (Gaia), for whom human beings are mortal enemies. NBC’s Matt Lauer inadvertantly gave away Gaiaism’s central article of faith thus:

Earth’s intricate web of ecosystems thrived for millions of years as natural paradises, until we came along, paved paradise, and put up a parking lot. Our assault on nature is killing off the very things we depend on for our own lives … The stark reality is that there are simply too many of us, and we consume way too much, especially here at home.
My second son was required to take ecology his junior year in high school; he related to me that the curriculum basically said there was nothing wrong with earth that the disappearance of humanity wouldn’t cure.
There is, I think, a close correspondence between the main articles of religion of Judaism-Christianity and those of contemporary environmentalism, so much so that I would say enviromentalism's religious template is culturally derived from Christianity and its parent, Judaism. However, enviromentalism offers neither paradise nor "life more abundant." But there is more than mere religiousity at work in environmentalism. H.L. Mencken observed, "The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule it." And so it is, I think, with environmentalism today.

Read the rest at Sense of Events.

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  • Beard: There's a lot more to energy usage than plugging into read more
  • J Aguilar: If heat is what you want, then capturing that energy read more
  • Beard: An astonishing amount of solar energy falls on each square read more

May 27, 2008

Gas-plasma autos on the way?

By Donald Sensing at 16:58

Is this how we will propel our cars in the near future?

In, "Buy a Honda, Kill a Polar Bear, " I explored the practicality of hydrogen as a fuel for automobiles, either to use in on-board fuel cells to generate electricity, or to enhance gasoline combustion by adding the hydrogen to the air-intake flow just before injection into the combustion chamber.

Fuel-cell technology is proven and the new, all-electric Honda Clarity is being offered for lease (only) in southern California this year. It is powered only by a fuel cell stack.

As for whether hydrogen-has (H2) injection into the intake manifold of IC engines really is valid for improving efficiency, there are a lot of web sites that reek of snake-oil salesmanship. Promises of up to 60 percent better gas mileage are made. My reservation was not whether H2 injection actually improves gasoline combustion at least some, but whether there is a net energy gain because of the energy required to make the H2 to begin with, especially with on-board H2 reforming or electrolysis.

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  • J Aguilar: If you produce hydrogen from water, you don't have any read more
  • Brian H: Nate; It is hard for me to come up with read more
  • FabioC.: Nate: Hydrogen is currently produced by steam reforming, in which read more

Service without pride

By David Blue at 16:01

Australia sends a team to every Olympics, and a contingent to every serious American war. We've been doing that a long time, and we'll be doing it a while longer.

Consequently our military planners have gotten doing "token support" down to a fine art, providing assistance that is politically handy for the Americans, militarily useful, and safe, in the sense of there being few or no embarrassing screw-ups where the Australians are active, at minimum cost and minimum risk of casualties.

They've gotten it down to too fine an art now. It suits politicians if the army doesn't really fight, because there's no risk of politically embarrassing casualties, but it doesn't suit the soldiers, who signed up to fight, who are trained and able to fight, who regard the Americans as genuine comrades, and who are ashamed in front of their mates that the uniforms they wear practically announce them as non-fighters. (link)

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  • Carl Gordon: [Spam, OT, deleted. Carl Gordon, you are now added to read more
  • virgil xenophon: Following on comments of #8 I seem to remember a read more
  • Jim Rockford: Part of this reluctance to send troops into real combat read more

May 23, 2008

Hezbollah's Victory

By Michael Totten at 22:14

Lebanon’s “March 14” majority coalition in parliament managed to hammer out a temporary agreement with the Hezbollah-led opposition in Doha, Qatar, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to raise a toast to the new peace in Beirut just yet. The streets are quiet and normal again for the most part, but none of Lebanon’s most serious problems have been resolved. While diplomats from Washington to Riyadh are pretending, for form’s sake, that this is a terrific breakthrough for stability and national unity, Charles Malik put it more bluntly and honestly at the Lebanese Political Journal. “The Doha negotiations were never meant to solve everything,” he wrote. “They were meant to stall the violence until after the summer tourist season is over.”

Supposedly this agreement, like most of Lebanon’s arrangements, is a compromise that leaves both parties unsatisfied. But I’m having a hard time figuring out what, exactly, Hezbollah has to be gloomy about. Eighteen months ago thousands of Hezbollah supporters built a tent city downtown and forced the semi-permanent closure of much of the city center. They demanded enough seats in the cabinet to wield veto power over any decision the government makes, despite the fact that they couldn’t win enough seats in the last election to earn it. Well, they finally got their long-demanded blocking minority status in Doha, so they happily took down their tent city. If this weren’t a victory, they’d still be seething downtown.

And it’s a dangerous precedent. A year and a half of mostly non-violent resistance yielded Hezbollah bupkis. After one week of murder and mayhem, the Lebanese government caved. The lesson for Hezbollah is clear: when things don’t go your way, take the rifles out of the garage, hit the streets, and start shooting people and burning down buildings.

Read the rest in COMMENTARY Magazine.

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May 22, 2008

Buy a Honda, kill a polar bear

By Donald Sensing at 23:50

Updates added at end of post.

When it comes to fighting global warming, Honda has rolled out the worst car on the planet: the new Clarity.

This is the first auto that runs on fuel cells ever offered to consumers. As Honda's site explains,
Fuel cells produce electricity that can be used as a clean alternative to gasoline. The fuel cell stack in the FCX Clarity converts hydrogen(H2) and oxygen (O2) into electricity. Learn more about How Fuel Cells Work.
As Honda's TV ads point out, the only exhaust from the Clarity is water vapor. The Clarity is obviously designed to capture the market of car buyers who think that gasoline engines are bad things for the environment because they emit carbon dioxide. So the Clarity, emitting only simple water vapor, must be magnitudes better at rolling back global warming, yes?

Problem is, when it comes to global warming, water vapor is enemy number one: "Water vapor constitutes Earth's most significant greenhouse gas, accounting for about 95% of Earth's greenhouse effect."

So buy a Clarity and kill the polar bears!

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  • bob: I read it on the internet so it must be read more
  • Nortius Maximus: A survey at determines the technical and economic viability read more
  • Miguel: A few weeks ago, posted a survey a few read more

On Negotiation - and on Vacation

By Armed Liberal at 16:23

Before I head off into the mountains for a weekend of lean angles and contributing to global warming by converting gasoline into relaxation, let me point you to an oped in today's NYT:

In his inaugural address, President John F. Kennedy expressed in two eloquent sentences, often invoked by Barack Obama, a policy that turned out to be one of his presidency’s - indeed one of the cold war’s - most consequential: "Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate." Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Kennedy’s special assistant, called those sentences "the distinctive note" of the inaugural.

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  • TOC: #29 from The Unbeliever at 4:13 pm on May read more
  • The Unbeliever: When you talk you get information. Information can turn out read more
  • alchemist: Let me put this a slightly different way Glen: I read more

May 21, 2008

The Three Laws of Counterinsurgency

By Armed Liberal at 02:39

As seen by Brian Ulrich, at Democracy Arsenal, citing Michael Scheuer:

It also is clear that Islamist leaders have little or no fear that news of the death or capture of senior operatives will undermine the morale of their fighters or curtail funding or other forms of aid from their supporters. Neither al-Qaeda, the Chechen insurgents, nor al-Qaeda in Iraq nor Saudi Arabia has tried to hide the death of prominent members. The Islamist leaders appear to believe that "martyrs are recruiters, too," and at times have used the death of a leader to make light of the success of their foes. When al-Muqrin was killed in a gunfight with Saudi police, for example, al-Qaeda quickly used the internet to announce his death, name his successor, and describe the successor’s qualifications.

Ulrich then throatclears, without making any judgments:

He emphasizes, though, that the killing of such figures is still useful.

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  • Fletcher Christian: Kirk, one thing you might have mentioned is part of read more
  • Kirk Parker: David Blue (#19), so scary you can't even mention them? read more
  • David Blue: #12 from Armed Liberal: "David, I think you're absolutely right read more

May 20, 2008

Ted Kennedy & Orestes

By Armed Liberal at 23:50

I read the story of this family - of greatness, human failure, tragedy - as though Euripides got to write his grand, tragic take on American history. Spare me the reflexive disdain - and the reflexive hagiography - for him, his brothers and his parents. But it would be out of his family's character somehow for him to come to his end quietly and without suffering.

I'm sorry for him - I can only imagine the horror at a diagnosis like this - and for his family, whose love I hope will comfort him.

He may not have been the greatest Senator we've had in the nation, but he has been a notable one, and he has dedicated his life to service. So here's an appreciation of him, and a thank you from me and my family.

Update: For a very human response and a crushing personal story, go see Steve Smith's blog.

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  • Mark Poling: Like or dislike his Senate career, he hasn't just phoned read more
  • David Blue: Rightly, in a spirit of charity, pro-lifers pray for Ted read more
  • Mike: Have to agree with BillB. His current illness is a read more

One Sign That Markets Are At Bottom...

By Armed Liberal at 15:47 pundits who declare how far they really have left to fall, and calling for immediate government action. Like this NYT editorial:

The housing bust is feeding on itself: price declines provoke foreclosures, which provoke more price declines. And the problem is not limited to subprime mortgages. There is an entirely different category of risky loans whose impact has yet to be felt — loans made to creditworthy borrowers but with tricky terms and interest rates that will start climbing next year.

Yet the Senate Banking Committee goes on talking. It has failed as yet to produce a bill to aid borrowers at risk of foreclosure, with the panel’s ranking Republican, Richard Shelby of Alabama, raising objections. In the House, a foreclosure aid measure passed recently, but with the support of only 39 Republicans. The White House has yet to articulate a coherent way forward, sowing confusion and delay.

And then there is how people in the market react in reality (via Calculated Risk, an indispensable blog on the topic):

Southern California home sales surged last month to the highest level since August as bargain shoppers took advantage of price slashing. Although some higher-end costal markets also posted gains, the swell in transactions mainly reflects more sales of homes under $500,000 in inland areas where depreciation and foreclosures have been greatest, a real estate information service reported.


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  • TOC: The biggest problem is not with the Retail mortgages though read more
  • celebrim: "And one more thing about this bailout-It is not some read more
  • raven: And one more thing about this bailout-It is not some read more

May 19, 2008

Random Personal Notes

By Armed Liberal at 23:33

I tend to talk about my wife Tenacious G, and Biggest Guy - who is doing just fine, thanks - and not enough about my other equally wonderful and bragworthy sons. So I thought I'd be a doting parent for a moment and share this.

(Note that we had a successful surprise birthday party for TG Saturday night)

[13:48] {Middle Guy}: hey pops [13:48] {Middle Guy}: how was the party?
[13:49] MARCDnzgr: huuuuge success
[13:49] {Middle Guy}: nice!
[13:49] MARCDnzgr: Debra's husband Mark got video of Grace walking through the door
[13:49] MARCDnzgr: priceless
[13:50] {Middle Guy}: hahaha
[13:50] {Middle Guy}: do you have a copy?
[13:50] MARCDnzgr: I can't believe I managed to surprise her
[13:50] MARCDnzgr: getting it - will be on YouTube
[13:51] {Middle Guy}: haha
[13:51] {Middle Guy}: that's awesome
[13:51] MARCDnzgr: she totally busted me

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  • Brent Buckner: That brought a smile. read more
  • Donna B.: That's funny, and oh so heartwarming. My children are a read more

When Smart Folks Miss...

By Armed Liberal at 05:16

One thing about the penetration of blogging into the Real World is the rise of blogs by people who actually Do Stuff For A Living That Most Of Us Blog About - in my case, the rise of the professional counterinsurgency blogs like Kings of War, Abu Muquama, MountainRunner, etc. etc.

I've talked about the change it necessarily brings to amateurs like us when grownups start showing up in the space.

But even though I have mad respect for authors like that - I take them seriously enough that my default position when I disagree with them is to change my mind - every so often they just flat get it wrong.

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  • andrewdb: Further to Robohobo's comment - the US is/was not the read more
  • ThomasJackson: Considering the lack of expertise in State and the CIA read more
  • vimothy: Very good post. read more

The Question Of Hillary's Competence

By Armed Liberal at 04:15

One reason I'm comfortable with supporting Obama is one that I imagine is going to be a stretch for many of you - because I believe he is likely to be the most competent candidate out there today.

I can say that because I really do view a modern Presidential campaign as a decent proxy for the strains and magnitude of actually being President. The difficult managerial task faced by a candidate is the coordination of lots of loosely-affiliated powerful individuals, delegating appropriately, and doing it all in the whirlwind of massive public attention.

Hillary - whose campaign theme was "I'm ready" clearly - wasn't.

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  • Glen Wishard: And as Obama faces primaries in Oregon and Kentucky, one read more
  • TOC: I agree. He appears to be th most competent, but read more
  • David Blue: The Republican candidate for the general election needs the ability read more

May 17, 2008

Lebanon's Future

By Michael Totten at 09:46

Lebanon will not become the next Gaza.

Commenters both inside and outside the country compared Hezbollah's invasion of West Beirut last week to the Hamas takeover of Gaza last year, which is perhaps understandable: that's what it looked like. If Lebanon's mainstream Sunni-dominated party—Saad Hariri's Future Movement—has a militia that is able and willing to fight, it didn't make much of an appearance. Hezbollah seized the western half of the city in a walk. Most journalists focused on this portion of the conflict because West Beirut is where almost every journalist in Lebanon lives and where almost every hotel for visiting journalists is located.

Far less attention has been paid to Hezbollah's military and strategic failure in the Chouf mountains southeast of Beirut where Lebanon's Druze community lives. Hezbollah picked a major fight there and lost. After three days of pitched battles, its gunmen were unable to conquer a single village—even when they brought out mortars and heavy artillery.

The Druze are among the fiercest of warriors, and everyone in Lebanon knows it. They are well-known in Israel, too, where they often serve in elite units of the Israel Defense Forces and suffer lower-than-average casualty rates in battles with Hezbollah and Palestinian terrorist groups. Most of Israel's Sunni Arabs abstain from military service, but Druze Arabs are as loyal to the Israeli state, and are as willing and able to fight for it, as their Lebanese counterparts are in their own country. There's a reason two of the Middle East's religious minorities—Maronite Christians and Druze—live in Lebanon's mountains in significant numbers: attempts to invade and subjugate them are ill-advised, very likely to fail, and therefore rarely attempted by even large armies.

It's debatable whether or not Lebanon's Sunnis are organized and well-armed or not. Certainly they are not compared to Hezbollah. No one in Lebanon is. But Druze chief Walid Jumblatt's Progressive Socialist Party proved they have no shortage of weapons, and they fought off Hezbollah's invasion even though he told them not to. A tiny percentage of Druze are partially loyal to Talal Arslan, Hezbollah's only Druze ally, but they defected in large numbers when Hezbollah launched its attack. They fought on the same side as the rest of their community. Political alliances have their limits, and Arslan's people and Hezbollah discovered theirs. It is now almost safe to say that Hezbollah has no friends at all in the mountains overlooking the dahiyeh, their “capital” and command and control center in the suburbs south of Beirut.

Read the rest in Commentary Magazine.

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  • Jim Rockford: Mr. Totten, I don't think your evaluation is correct. While read more
  • Davebo: Shades of the exuberant Cedar Revolution posts. Great job Mike. read more

Well, Thank God For That...

By Armed Liberal at 01:20

Huckabee just spoke at the NRA convention, and cost himself the Vice-Presidential nomination...

"That was Barack Obama, he just tripped off a chair, he's getting ready to speak," said the former Arkansas governor, to audience laughter. "Somebody aimed a gun at him and he dove for the floor."

What a tool...I watched the video, and at least the audience treated that comment with the shocked silence it deserved.

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  • David Blue: "The white Christian family is toast, demographically." #27 from Celebrim: read more
  • GK: "The white Christian family is toast, demographically. " White Christians read more
  • Celebrim: "The white Christian family is toast, demographically." That's an interesting read more

This Is a Dead Parrot!

By Joe Katzman at 00:07

Wait a minute... you mean there really was a Norwegian Blue?

"Told yesterday about the Blue's discovery, [Monty Python member] Michael Palin chuckled, saying: "It just shows that nothing is original."

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  • Avatar: Well, no wonder the parrot was dead. read more

May 16, 2008

The Real Iraq

By Michael Totten at 15:03

Moment of Truth in Iraq, by Michael Yon (Richard Vigilante Books, 227 pp., $29.95)

Iraq is where ideologies go to die. Arab nationalism, Baathism, anti-Americanism, al-Qaidism, Donald Rumsfeldism, and Moqtada al-Sadrism have either died there or are dying. Conventional liberal opinion, more or less correct about the foundering American war effort from 2004 to 2006, has been severely bloodied—along with Iraq’s worst insurgent groups and militias—by General David Petraeus’s leadership of the American troop surge. Even post-9/11 fear of Islam has proven unsustainable for those who regularly interact with ordinary Iraqis. Independent journalist Michael Yon, who has spent more time embedded with combat soldiers in Iraq than any other reporter, is a refreshingly unideological analyst of the war. His self-published dispatches have earned him a loyal following around the world, and he has set out to reach even more people with the publication of a terrific new book, Moment of Truth in Iraq.

Yon begins his story in medias res. “We are in trouble, but we have a great general,” he writes on the eve of Arrowhead Ripper, the major battle last summer against al-Qaida’s terrorist army in Baqubah, just north of Baghdad. Iraq was all but lost before the battle, when American forces under Petraeus surged into the capital and beyond. Yon then takes us back in time and to the northern city of Mosul, where Petraeus first proved that he knew how to counter an insurgency by working with the local population and protecting it from killers. Yon spent many months in Mosul embedded with the 1-24th Infantry Regiment, or “Deuce Four,” and his first-person narrative of firefights in the city’s streets and alleys is relentless and gripping.

Read the rest in City Journal.

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  • Robohobo: Michael- That you have such high praise surprises me not read more

Eco hypocrisy, chapter 2

By Donald Sensing at 12:30

Chapter 1 is here.

Today's greenwash example: ecotourism, defined by Wikipedia thus.
Ecotourism, also known as ecological tourism, is a form of tourism that appeals to ecologically and socially conscious individuals. Generally speaking, ecotourism focuses on volunteering, personal growth, and learning new ways to live on the planet. It typically involves travel to destinations where flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions.
So places "where flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions" shall now be overrun with tourists who need transportation, lodging, food and all manner of daily life support in places where no such accommodations already exist for tourists. And once the locals find out how much money the environmentally sensitive ecotourists will pay for the privilege of ruining the formerly pristine areas, why, the locals will build new roads, new hotels, new restaurants (serving, no doubt, nothing but lentils and soy) and communicatons infrastructure - because what the heck in the point in visiting a place "where flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions" if you can't email photos home of yourself standing in the midst of it?
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  • Robohobo: Have a shot of the Law Of Unintended Consequences anyone? read more
  • Nortius Maximus: TOC: Know-it-alls are irritating, for sure. Seems to me there's read more
  • TOC: I live in Mexico. This sort of thinking goes on read more

May 15, 2008

CA Supreme Court Decides On Gay Marriage

By Armed Liberal at 23:19

The California Supreme Court just ruled that it is unconstitutional, under state law, to discriminate between same-sex couples in the matter of marriage.

I wrote about the issue a long time ago - 'Why I Support Gay Marriage, and Why I Will Never Be Angry At Those Who Do Not.'

Personally, I'd rather it had been resolved in the Legislature. But it's step toward resolving it...

The press release from the state Judicial Council:

San Francisco - The California Supreme Court today held that the California legislative and initiative measures limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples violate the state constitutional rights of same-sex couples and may not be used to preclude same-sex couples from marrying. (In re Marriage Cases, S147999.)

The court concluded that permitting opposite-sex couples to marry while affording same-sex couples access only to the novel and less-recognized status of domestic partnership improperly infringes a same-sex couple's constitutional rights to marry and to the equal protection of the laws as guaranteed by the California Constitution.

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  • ThomasJackson: Well we can all rest easy knowing we live in read more
  • aphrael: The point is that if the ruling guarantees a natural read more
  • Planter: Starting at the end: @33: Glen, I didn't assert that read more

May 14, 2008

The Atlantic Annoys Me Yet Again

By Armed Liberal at 21:29

I'm a believer that the current US higher-education system is dysfunctional, and that it is at some level a Ponzi scheme that creates PhD's who then get teaching jobs, and ever-expand university-level education because more PhD's are minted than there are seats for them. This happens in concert with the devaluing - both economically and culturally - the craft work done by people who typically haven't had college degrees as a gateway to their careers.

So I was happy to see an article on this - 'In the Basement of the Ivory Tower,' subtitled 'The idea that a university education is for everyone is a destructive myth. An instructor at a "college of last resort" explains why.'

Until, of course I read it and I immediately understood why the author wrote under a pseudonym as 'Professor X' - because forgetting the students whose efforts he devalues, anyone who isn't deeply elitist would be tempted to go bitchslap him into sensibility with a copy of Strunk and White.

Go read the article, and see if maybe your reaction to it mirrors mine:

"Maybe it's just that you suck as a teacher..."

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  • Independent George: Not everyone can be Gordon Ramsay. But everyone can learn read more
  • molon labe: AL, as a grad student you taught students who'd managed read more
  • Jim Rockford: I too find the censors ... censorious. Prof. X's problem read more

Word of the day: "Greenwash"

By Donald Sensing at 21:16

I wish I had made it up.

The context: Paul McCartney saying he was 'horrified' because his Lexus LS600H (hybrid), costing £84,000, was flown 7,000 miles from Japan to Britain rather than being sent by ship.

Toyota Motor Co. seems to have been so grateful for Sir Paul's promotion of the car that they flew it to him aboard a Korean Air flight instead of sending it by ship, the way the rest of the ultra-rich proles get theirs.

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  • FabioC.: Mark B. - "For the record, it is my goal read more
  • lurker: CO2=fertilizer. Thanks Mr. McCartney for helping make the world a read more
  • Mark Buehner: For the record, it is my goal in life to read more

May 13, 2008

A Hero Leaves Us

By Armed Liberal at 20:19

From Bayou Renaissance Man:

A real heroine has just left us. If you want to know what true heroism is, take a few moments to think about her life.

Irena Sendler was a social worker in Warsaw, Poland, when Germany occupied that nation in 1939. Almost immediately the Jews of that city were confined in the infamous Warsaw Ghetto, which existed from 1940-1943. Even before the ghetto was established, Sendler began helping them.


Irena Sendler died today, May 12th, 2008, at the age of 98.

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  • Jim Rockford: Sendler was indeed a hero, but I fear the wrong read more
  • Gringo: In My Hands , by Irene Gut Opdyke , read more

Stupidest Act Of The Month

By Armed Liberal at 20:11

From Kings of War:

Abu Aardvark: resource tradeoffs and the war on ideas

Via Marc Lynch at the link above I note that the US government because of ‘budgetary shortfalls’ is forced to fire analysts in Radio Free Europe/Free Liberty. Those receiving pink slips are apparently to include RFE/RL analysts Daniel Kimmage and Kathleen Ridolfo authors of important reports on Iraqi insurgent use of media The War of Images and Ideas and Al Qaeda’s use of the Internet The Virtual Network Behind the Global Message.

I really don't get this administration. Actually I do get something: six years into the GWOT they still haven't got a clue about the nature of the war they are in. It’s not just the ignorance which galls its the studied, committed blindness and warped priorities which they exhibit. RFE/RL’s annual budget is $79 million. By comparison that kind of money would buy you about one half of a single F-22 - pilot and fuel not included.

I've bashed Bush for years for failing to explain the war to the domestic public, and by extension for failing to participate meaningfully in the information conflict that is inextricably a part of the war. The fact that they are cutting budget for components of that conflict as we're getting our asses kicked in the space makes so little sense to me that I can't begin to explain it.

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  • Rand Simberg: If we had a useful press corps, someone would ask read more
  • Demosophist: Like AL, I can't explain this. I can say that read more
  • Jeff: I agree that the administrative state (erected by Progressives, btw) read more

Free Ice Cream To Resume Soon

By Armed Liberal at 02:19

Sorry to be so silent - I'm at the Community 2.0 conference in Las Vegas leading my work life this week. Working on the Vietnam post, all the more timely b/c of Obama's pro-vet comments today (and some of the left blog's responses to him).

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May 12, 2008

'Expelled' And Creationism's Fundamental Dishonesty

By Joe Katzman at 01:12

This doesn't happen every day: John Derbyshire writes a column that most of Winds' readership will agree with, as he covers Ben Stein's creationist movie Expelled: NO Intelligence Allowed. Now, over to Derb:

"The misrepresentations in Expelled are far too numerous for me to list here, and the task is unnecessary since others have done it. The aforementioned Expelled Exposed website is a great resource. Biologist P. Z. Myers, in a less organized way, has been pointing up the errors and deceptions in Expelled since the wretched thing hove into view. (Here he links to a whole stack of reviews, including a couple of positives.) Other science-literate bloggers have been weighing in, often very angrily. One of my favorite comments came from "Pixy Misa" (Andrew Mazels) who correctly called Ben Stein's accusing Darwin of responsibility for the Holocaust "a blood libel on science."

I would actually go further than that, to something like “a blood libel on Western Civilization."

I join Derb as someone who's pretty disappointed in Ben Stein, and Derb's points elsewhere in the article about the inherent dishonesty of the creationist enterprise reflect my biggest objection as well.

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  • Sepp: Thanks for clearing that up, Fred. You can categorize my read more
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  • Demosophist: AMac: I was thinking specifically of the incredible progress at read more

May 11, 2008

Invading Burma

By Donald Sensing at 02:51

I asked last Friday, theoretically more than practically, whether it was time to invade Burma, inviting readers to have their say on whether coercive relief operations could be realistically considered in the wake of the Burmese junta's refusal to allow foreign aid or relief workers into the country.

Today asks the same question.

Like my piece, the Time piece does not actually propose invading Burma (though it could be read as coming close to it), but points out that "the world has yet to reach a consensus about when, and under what circumstances, coercive interventions in the name of averting humanitarian disasters are permissible." I would also point out that Time seems to think that parachute drops of supplies, without prior permission of the junta, constitutes "invading," which is silly. But let that pass for discussion's sake.

Of course there is a sort of cognitive dissonance in thinking about shooting your way in to deliver food and medicine. But not really - exactly how is the plight of the Burmese of the disaster area different than that of a concentration camp? As I said Friday, "This catastrophe may not fall under the legal umbrella of genocide, but it is a distinction without a difference."

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  • Denni: The problem with life is that it tends to be read more
  • gus: No need to invade. Just bomb the hell out of read more
  • TOC: This would be an invasion whose purpose would be nation read more

Poem: Mother Doesn't Want a Dog

By Joe Katzman at 01:51

One for Mother's Day. This may seem familiar to some, but I didn't make it up. It's from

Mother Doesn't Want a Dog
by Judith Viorst

Mother doesn't want a dog.
Mother says they smell,
And never sit when you say sit,
Or even when you yell.
And when you come home late at night
And there is ice and snow,
You have to go back out because
The dumb dog has to go.

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  • Mary: Snakes have no fleas, they eat bugs, they're quiet and read more

Chocolate Fountains And Bubblegum Trees

By Armed Liberal at 00:51

You know, when they talk about antiwar folks saying that there were chocolate fountains and bubblegum trees in Baghdad before the war, I usually take it as a kind-of-lame attempt at snark. And then there's this:

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  • narciso: You're right, Mary, the clans are the foot soldiers, but read more
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May 10, 2008

Department Of "Damn, I Wish I'd Said That...

By Armed Liberal at 16:12

I've been getting more and more into data visualization as an aspect at work (think Tufte), and have started following some of the excellent blogs on the subject. On one of them, Flowing Data, the author just made a point about context - which applies both to my criticisms of newsmedia, and to my efforts to but a basic quantitative frame around some of the policy claims that are made - that is so perfectly written that, to quote Jack Black "You bastard! That's so good - that should have been mine..."

Without further ado, Nathan from Flowing Data:

If I were to skip straight to the part in The Shawshank Redemption when Andy Durfesne climbs out of the pipe of poo (and put it on mute), someone who never saw the movie might see an escaped convict who steals money from a warden and fleas to some random place in Mexico called Zihuatanejo. Out of grief, the warden kills himself and Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding eventually teams up with Andy to commit more crimes.

Those of us who have seen the movie though know this isn't the case. Why? Because we saw the whole movie and have context.

Context Matters

As Andrew, a FlowingData reader, put it, "For statistics to be useful, it needs to be explained in a context." When I get my hands on some data, whether I'm analyzing or visualizing, I want to know the context of data first. I want to know who collected the data, how it was collected, when it was collected, and what was done to it before it arrived in my hands. Without that meta-information, I could easily make an incorrect assumption about the data or misrepresent it somehow in a visualization - which is very bad.

Simply put, we use visualization and statistics to tell stories with data. If we don't have all the information, then we can't tell a complete story.

Can we just tattoo that on the inside of the eyelids of all journalists, commentators, and policymakers?

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  • Glen Wishard: If we don't have all the information, then we can't read more
  • old maltese: ' ... steals money from a warden and fleas' As read more
  • Demosophist: Again, the most likely explanation for discrepancies is a reporting read more

May 9, 2008

Numbers, Numbers, Numbers, Those D**n Numbers

By Armed Liberal at 04:19

OK, a little help please.

TAPPED was nice enough to link to my latest irritated screed at the media's poor coverage of military suicide rates.

Once the statistic's initial shock value wears off, it's clear that--as Winds of Change notes in its calculations--the figure is fairly misleading. Taking the national rate of suicide (about 13 per 100,000) and applying it to the 1.6 million U.S. troops that have to date served, the figure comes out to 8,409 -- a little less than twice the number of U.S. casualties in Iraq. More an artifact of the comparatively low casualties the U.S. has suffered in Iraq than anything else.

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  • Sepp: The rather embarrassing video is relevant because McCain opponents wouldn't read more
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May 7, 2008

This is a Kosovar Muslim

By Michael Totten at 08:54

Lee Smith laments that American Muslims have to read almost exclusively about scary Muslims and slightly less scary Muslims in the mainstream American media. “One can only sympathize with American Muslims,” he writes,

those who may or may not be religious, but surely have no attachment to the obscurantist fanatics that drove them from the region, and must now be wondering what is wrong with the New York Times that the only Muslims that register with the paper of record are very scary ones, and less scary ones.

I have noticed and been annoyed by this tendency myself, and it goes double today: I'm writing this from the capital of Kosovo, the least “scary” Muslim country on Earth. I've grown accustomed to moderate Muslims after living in and traveling to places like Beirut and Istanbul, but Kosovo is surprising even to me. Islam in this country is so thoroughly liberal (“moderate” doesn't quite cover it) that, if it weren't for the mosques, there would be no visible evidence that Kosovo is a Muslim country at all. I've been in Prishtina, the capital, for four days, and I can count the number of women I've seen wearing a hijab on one hand. Aside from the conservative dating culture, women here are as liberated as Christian women in the rest of the Balkan region.

A large number of Kosovo's Muslims are Sufis—the most peaceful and the least fundamentalist of all the world's Muslims. Sufis can be found in many parts of the Islamic world, but here in Kosovo they proudly proclaim that they are the most “progressive” of all.

Soft-imperial Wahhabis are trying to export their brand of Islam from the deserts of Saudi Arabia to this fertile green land. They have their work cut out for them with this crowd. Bosnia notoriously welcomed thousands of Salafist mujahideen fighters from the Arab world during Yugoslavia's violent demise. But the Kosovo Liberation Army brusquely told them to stay the hell out of their country—even while they faced an ethnic cleansing campaign directed from Belgrade.

Read the rest in Commentary.

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  • Albo: >> "They've demolished centuries-old mosques because their ornamentation is blasphemous" read more
  • El Cid: "I'm writing this from the capital of Kosovo, the least read more
  • Glen Wishard: Soft-imperial Wahhabis are trying to export their brand of Islam read more

WW 2's destruction of Japan continues

By Donald Sensing at 04:02
I think a good case can be made that the total victory of the United States over Japan is directly connected with this: "Japan Steadily Becoming a Land Of Few Children."
[T]his is the land of disappearing children and a slow-motion demographic catastrophe that is without precedent in the developed world.

The number of children has declined for 27 consecutive years, a government report said over the weekend. Japan now has fewer children who are 14 or younger than at any time since 1908.

The proportion of children in the population fell to an all-time low of 13.5 percent. That number has been falling for 34 straight years and is the lowest among 31 major countries, according to the report.
The massive destruction wrought upon Japan's cities by US forces by 1945, the fact that every Japanese family, with extremely few exceptions, suffered one or more killed either in uniform or not, these things were bad enough. But the decisive defeat of Japan was neither material nor biological, as grave as those things were.

The decisive defeat was psychological and spiritual. Japan's deepest wound was the destruction of its national mythos. Although the cult of the emperor and the code of bushido were relatively recent inventions in Japanese history, by the time the war began, at least three generations had been immersed in it. Japan's conviction of racial superiority and its embrace of a manifest destiny to dominate all Asia almost completely formed the national self-identity and national purpose.

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  • Mister Snitch: "This post contains some of the most inane mass psychologizing read more
  • Avatar: Japan's problems with its self-image are of longer standing than read more
  • TK: Ummm, maybe I am just naive, but what is wrong read more

May 6, 2008

Stupid, Innumerate Reporters (With An Agenda)

By Armed Liberal at 16:23

Every time I try and convince myself that I'm being oversensitive to the drumbeat of 'damaged soldiers' stories - which I am at root convinced are about the notion that war is simply too damaging to the delicate sensibilities of our troops to actually, you know, send them into combat - the press steps to the plate and hits the ball right at me.

Here's the latest piece at Bloomberg:

The number of suicides among veterans of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may exceed the combat death toll because of inadequate mental health care, the U.S. government's top psychiatric researcher said.

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  • Andrew J. Lazarus: Mark B: Karzai? read more
  • hypocrisyrules: Unbeliever, Lots of hand-waving, allowing you to NOT answer the read more
  • The Unbeliever: hypocrisyrules, you're still applying playground logic without making your argument read more

I Am Iron Man?

By Joe Katzman at 06:29

Most military programs don't coordinate news releases with major motion pictures. With Iron Man in theaters and getting reviews that will induce me to go, Raytheon is taking the time to promote its US Army-funded exoskeleton suit. Originally funded under a 7-year, $75 million DARPA program, the suite has now gone on to the next stage under a 2-year, $10 million follow-on Army grant:

The problem they're trying to address is no stunt. The weight of a soldier's equipment easily approaches 80-100 pounds, far higher than the 30 pounds recommended for maximum mobility. As we load our soldiers down with more technical gadgets, that weight tends to go up, not down. The USA and Japan are only a couple of the countries working on aspects of a mechanical exoskeleton that would give its wearers vastly improved strength and endurance.

While Japanese demographic and cultural trends in particular are giving concepts like individual soldier augmentation a push, we can still expect a very long wait before we see exoskeletons that can deliver the required performance to justify their cost, can handle military conditions, and can be maintained in the field at reasonable cost. It's far more likely that first fielding, if there is one, will involve more limited use of the technologies by disabled soldiers, or be used like Cyberdyne Japan's HAL-5 in private, para-public, and first responder roles. Raytheon release | Raytheon feature | Popular Science [PDF].

The suits should go nicely with new technologies for bionic contact lenses.

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  • Fletcher Christian: Joshua: Ha ha. Here's another one; the UK military's new read more
  • Joshua: It's far more likely that first fielding, if there is read more
  • Nortius Maximus: Power storage systems (batteries) still suck. One semi-promising avenue is read more

The Big Sort: An Inadvertent Experiment

By Tim Oren at 00:28

[Edited by Nort with permission of the author]

A few weeks back I ran a survey related to the notion of a 'Cold Civil War' on this site. When I reported the results of the survey, I mentioned that I was also going to do some analysis with more powerful tools and report if I had found anything else interesting. Well, I did and I have.

Really short form: The Big Sort (see below) is likely onto something. I have some modest statistical evidence that WoC denizens are behaving in the way Bishop (the author of The Big Sort) suggests, and those who think Bush stole 2000 are somewhat more likely to 'sort' themselves out.

I detest when the MSM trots out "the study showed" and gives no idea how the conclusion was reached. So here are the details: first my impression of "The Big Sort" hypothesis, and then my detailed description of what I think I am seeing in the survey data and why.

The Big Sort

In the discussion of the survey, a commenter suggested a relationship to a just-published book called The Big Sort, by Bill Bishop (reviewed by the WSJ here). I haven't read the book yet - it's on order from Amazon - but the thesis is easily described: "Like-minded people increasingly tend to live near like-minded people, thus amplifying the beliefs people hold." The author has an overview website, and here's a set of slides (PDF) from a presentation of his material (found here), that provides the basic talking points. One of the most important is that Bishop is not just regurgitating the Red vs. Blue state themes of the MSM, but looking at a finer geographical grain: "Not red and blue states, he is quick to insist; he calls that cliché an illusion. The reality is red and blue wards and precincts, suburbs and counties."

The 'Big Sort' is about the country turning into a collection of echo chambers, about networks becoming more disjoint over time. Not only was that shift in networks the logic behind the experimental design of my own survey, I'd asked a question about moving for political reason in the original survey. Bishop's hypothesis came my way just as I was trying to make sense of the further analysis of the survey. Explaining the intersection takes some further (and unfortunately lengthy) description of the process:

Data Mining the Cold Civil War

I started by importing the survey results into the R statistical system. This is a freeware analytics program cloned from a famous Bell Labs package. I described the whole process at my home blog for those curious. (R is perhaps overkill for an experiment of this size, but learning my way around it was an additional goal beyond political curiosity.)

The test I used on the survey results is called correspondence analysis. Fortunately for me, two of the best known experts in this procedure had provided code to implement it in R. Correspondence analysis is a form of factors analysis suited for use with categorical data, like survey answers. If that didn't make any sense, think of it as a type of data mining, attempting to find relationships among variables by analyzing a large number of samples.

What you're looking for in such a study are covariance patterns, ways in which some observations (survey responses in this case) correlate to and might predict other responses or characteristics. I obviously believed there would be such correlations and some particular underlying themes, or I wouldn't have named the survey after the hypothetical Cold Civil War, and based the questions on the notion of a breaking of personal networks as being diagnostic of its existence. It turns out such patterns do exist, and they shed some light on the notion of a Big Sort.

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  • Tim Oren: One issue I see in Bishop's slides (still waiting for read more
  • atheist: Indeed, at the state level (and substate regional level), the read more
  • ohwilleke: It is worth noting the null hypothesis, which is that read more

May 5, 2008

Vote Early And Often - Soldier's Angels

By Armed Liberal at 16:03

NZ Bear reminds me that Patti Patton-Bader, founder of Soldiers’ Angels, is one of the fifteen semi-finalists in NBC’s "America’s Favorite Mom" contest. There are five categories, and she is nominated with two other mom's in the "military mom's" category. The winner receives a $250,000 cash prize, and Patti has said she'd like to use the money to build a ranch for soldiers and their families to vacation at with assistance from Angel families.

Tomorrow, Patti will be featured in the morning on NBC’s Today Show, and all day today (but ONLY today) folks will have the opportunity to vote for her at . Allegedly everyone can vote up to ten times per email address, so I'm hoping folks will vote early and often!

I've 'adopted' soldiers through Soldiers Angels, and donated to Project Valor-IT which provides speech-activated laptops to wounded solders - so I unqualifiedly support her and her work. Regardless of how you feel about the war, I'd hope we can all agree that the soldiers - particularly the wounded ones - deserve all the help we (and the government - but that's another story) can give them.

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American Infrastructure Ideas: SeaBridge

By Joe Katzman at 03:01

My colleague Armed Liberal's writings, and recent Popular Mechanics features, have talked about the state of America's infrastructure, what might be needed to fix the growing wear, and some of the innovative approaches being used.

Some of that innovation, however, is going to revolve around a different approach: not rebuilding infrastructure, but avoiding it. Take the highway system, for example. Yes, rebuilding and maintenance will be necessary. No, the system cannot reasonably hope to accommodate growing capacity. Space constraints, environmental laws, the "not in my backyard" factor, et. al. make that cause more or less hopeless. The system is predicted to begin "redlining" soon, which will have wide implications as highway freight tonnage makes up a very large share of American shipments. These shipments are also very fuel intensive compared to rail and water options, a growing issue as demand around the world keeps fuel prices high.

SeaBridge Pentamaran

Norm Mineta, who wasn't good for much, seems to have had at least one good idea:

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  • hypocrisyrules: Thomas Friedman has an editorial on the same issue - read more
  • Fletcher Christian: Large aerostats could also be useful as the first stage read more
  • Foobarista: This may be useful between SF/SAC and LA. I-5 and read more

May 4, 2008

Speaking Of Propaganda

By Armed Liberal at 23:12

Here's Dave Meyer at OpenLeft getting it pretty much - from my point of view - completely wrong:

I'm not exactly surprised that the administration's military propaganda program has received so little attention. The establishment has never demonstrated any understanding of the war in Iraq, of why it's such an incoherent, doomed venture. The propaganda program revealed last Monday is not a sideshow. It's an essential component of the only remaining strategic rationale for the continuation of the war -- preventing damage to America's image.

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  • J Aguilar: Iraqis can watch foreign TV, including Al Jazeera, through satellite: read more
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  • Dave: It's a global information exchange we have now. Care to read more

May 3, 2008

1950's Propaganda, Today

By Armed Liberal at 22:25

One nice thing about all the traveling I'm doing right now (other than making me appreciate TG and home all the more) is that there is a bitchen used-book store right in Milwaukee airport, Renaissance Books.

I manage to stop by there pretty much every trip, and find all kinds of interesting stuff.

This trip, I wandered back to the math area because Middle Guy and I are trying to teach each other more about fractals. No Mandelbrot, sadly, but next to it was the military area, so I scanned quickly and almost bought a really nice copy of Clausewitz for Biggest Guy but it was huge to carry. I did trip over an interesting book that I bought, though - 'Premises for Propaganda' by Leo Bogart (autographed by him, BTW, with an inscription to one Dick Leonard). Subtitled 'The United States Information Agency's Operating Assumptions in the Cold War', it's a 1976 summary of a study done on the USIA in 1953-4.

And it's a fascinating look at the nuts and bolts of an active 'information war'.

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Webcomic: Crimson Dark

By Joe Katzman at 19:48

Now that my Internet connection has improved beyond 28.8, I've encountered the broader phenomenon of webcomics. Day by Day is a fine example, but there's a much larger selection out there with pretty much every genre you can think of. And maybe a couple you couldn't.

If you have a sci-fi bent, "Crimson Dark" is well done, on a number of levels: art, thought-out background, decent characters. Worth your time.

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  • Chris Muir: Thanks, Joe! And, there is a wealth of great comic read more
  • gabriel: I was always partial to The Perry Bible Fellowship, sadly read more

May 2, 2008

Hamid and the Divine Mullah

By Joe Katzman at 21:41

Capt. Doug Traversa, now returned from Afghanistan, talks about life with their interpreter, Hamid. "Hamid and the Gang" offers a revealing - and when you think about it, rather unsettling - view into the mindset:

"I don’t remember how we got on the topic, but we ended up discussing freedom of religion.

“People in Afghanistan don’t need the freedom to switch religions; no one would leave Islam,” Hamid assured us.

“Well, how would you know?” I countered. “Right now it’s like having a gun held to your head. Remain Muslim or die. Your government forces everyone to remain Muslim. Leaving the faith is never a realistic possibility for anyone, unless they flee the country.”

“But no one would ever leave Islam. It is the perfect religion.” Hamid was very confident on this point.

“Hamid, you’ve never even read the Qur’an. Don’t tell me it’s the perfect religion.”

Mike joined in: “I find it amazing that so many people here have not read their most holy book. I’m not talking about people who can’t read, I’m talking about those who know how, but never bother.”

I piled on. “Why haven’t you read it? It’s the most important book in your life, and you’ve never read it.”

Hamid didn’t hesitate. “I don’t need to. My mullah tells me what is in the Qur’an.”

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  • The Unbeliever: Kirk Parker in #82: Sorry, didn't mean to cause confusion read more
  • Armed Liberal: David, can I suggest that you watch "The Battle of read more
  • AMac: Hmm, the link to David Thompson's current blog post evaporated read more

Final Salute, the Book

By Armed Liberal at 11:41

In 2005, reporter James Sheeler published an article in the Rocky Mountain News called 'Final Salute' about the transport of a soldier's remains back from Iraq to his home for his funeral.

I'm often critical of casualty-focused reporting, because I see in those stories a reporter's effort to make a political statement by standing on the bodies of the wounded or dead. But when I read this story, I was so moved by the pure humanity it expressed, and the scrupulous and very real effort the reporter made to show us what he was seeing, rather than the point he wanted to make, that I wrote Sheeler and complimented him - kind of effusively.

Well, he just wrote back, and the article has been extended to a book - also called 'Final Salute,' which came out yesterday. As safe as Biggest Guy is today, it'll still be a hard read for me, but I'll read it regardless.

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  • Maggie45: I just got my copy today. When the newspaper articles read more

The Wright To Speech

By Armed Liberal at 03:44

I want to respond a bit to Joe's post on Obama, because I think he nails the strongest critiques of Obama from the right.

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  • Andrew J. Lazarus: The Democrats flip the House seat in one of the read more
  • Andrew J. Lazarus: GK, when Republicans in Congress are replaced by Blue Dog read more
  • GK: GK, a party is stronger when it wins. It's really read more

A Saigon Anniversary

By Armed Liberal at 01:44

Yesterday was the anniversary of the North Vietnamese conquest of South Vietnam.

I've been reading and thinking a lot about Vietnam recently, for relatively obvious reasons. While history never repeats itself, it's doubtless true that people look to history and model their behavior - for better or worse - on the models they have of history.

Watch for a post next week on this issue.

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