When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

31 July 2006

Vanguard founder John Bogle on the pension crisis

Q: When I asked you earlier about the whole retirement system, you used the phrase a 'perfect storm.' To a certain extent, when you look at the retirement situation in America, are you saying a storm is brewing?

Bogle: It's a generational storm that is coming in large measure because capitalism has gone astray. We have had what I describe in my book as a pathological mutation from traditional owners of capitalism, where the owners put up the capital and got the lion's share of the rewards, to a new form of managers' capitalism, where the managers, often aided by accountants and the financial system and the marketing system, are putting their own interest in front of the interests of the last-line owners, whether it's the direct owners -- the stockholders of America -- or the indirect owners --the pension beneficiaries, mutual fund shareholders and the like. They simply aren't getting a fair shake.

FRONTLINE: can you afford to retire?: interviews: john c. bogle


RINO Sightings at evolution

RINO Sightings are up at evolution.

The politically incorrect alphabet.

The politically incorrect alphabet.

The Scratching Post: Carnival of the Cats #123

Carnival of the Cats #123 is up at The Scratching Post.

30 July 2006

Photos that damn Hezbollah

I've been getting a lot of e-mails lately, pitched in tones of real or feigned outrage, about the civilian casualties in Lebanon (usually complete with pictures of burned and/or mutilated and/or dead children.) Someone out there seems to be targeting bloggers with published e-mail addresses with this kind of information.

So. The next time you get one of those e-mails, consider this:
This is the picture that damns Hezbollah. It is one of several, smuggled from behind Lebanon's battle lines, showing that Hezbollah is waging war amid suburbia.

The images, obtained exclusively by the Sunday
Herald Sun, show Hezbollah using high-density residential areas as launch pads for rockets and heavy-calibre weapons.

Dressed in civilian clothing so they can quickly disappear, the militants carrying automatic assault rifles and ride in on trucks mounted with cannon.

The photographs, from the Christian area of Wadi Chahrour in the east of Beirut, were taken by a visiting journalist and smuggled out by a friend.
I haven't reproduced the pictures here, as I don't own the rights and haven't been able to secure permission (yet), but you can go to the Herald-Sun site and view them.

Photos that damn Hezbollah | (Melbourne, Australia) Herald Sun

A little tongue action (several tongues, actually)

The Beeb has online lessons, free for the asking, in Spanish, French, German and Italian (with shorter courses in Portuguese, Greek, and Chinese) at BBC - Languages.

And if you're studying French or Spanish, there's tons of audio and video for you to practice listening to.

BBC Languages: A bit at a time, in your own time.

Separating *that* church from *this* state

Here's a point that needs to be made more often and more publically: tying evangelical Christianity to the goals and aspirations of the Republican Party ultimately damages both Christianity and the GOP.

The Reverend Dr. Gregory A. Boyd, pastor of a megachurch in suburban St. Paul, Minnesota, seems to get it:

In his six sermons, Mr. Boyd laid out a broad argument that the role of Christians was not to seek “power over” others — by controlling governments, passing legislation or fighting wars. Christians should instead seek to have “power under” others — “winning people’s hearts” by sacrificing for those in need, as Jesus did, Mr. Boyd said.

“America wasn’t founded as a theocracy,” he said. “America was founded by people trying to escape theocracies. Never in history have we had a Christian theocracy where it wasn’t bloody and barbaric. That’s why our Constitution wisely put in a separation of church and state.

“I am sorry to tell you,” he continued, “that America is not the light of the world and the hope of the world. The light of the world and the hope of the world is Jesus Christ.”

Mr. Boyd lambasted the “hypocrisy and pettiness” of Christians who focus on “sexual issues” like homosexuality, abortion or Janet Jackson’s breast-revealing performance at the Super Bowl halftime show. He said Christians these days were constantly outraged about sex and perceived violations of their rights to display their faith in public.

“Those are the two buttons to push if you want to get Christians to act,” he said. “And those are the two buttons Jesus never pushed.”

Disowning Conservative Politics, Evangelical Pastor Rattles Flock - New York Times

29 July 2006

Tough love works

A decade ago, Americans began a bold social experiment. In August 1996, Bill Clinton signed into law the bill that introduced “welfare to work”. From that point, poor families could no longer claim welfare indefinitely as an entitlement. Instead, parents had to find a job.

The reform, controversial enough in America, was reviled in many parts of Europe. Its opponents said that welfare claimants, most of them single mothers, would be unable to find work. They and their families, it was argued, were being condemned to destitution.

Ten years on, such dire warnings have been proved spectacularly wrong (see article). America's welfare rolls have fallen by over half as existing claimants have found work and fewer people have gone on benefit in the first place. A strong economy, generating plenty of jobs, has undoubtedly helped; but the main reason for the steep decline in caseloads is the reform itself. Furthermore, there has been no upsurge in the poverty rate; in fact, it has fallen over the period. Most of the jobs taken by former claimants are poorly paid, but in general they are doing somewhat better than when they were on welfare.

Welfare to work | Tough love works | Economist.com

Rob Lawrence: Impatience is a Virtue

We are all told from childhood on that "Patience is a virtue." And this is largely true. True patience is a combination of disciplined action and disciplined waiting. If we can employ it to the right ends, we can achieve goals and reap rewards that initially seem impossible or unattainable.

In organizational life, however, "patience" is often not patience at all, but rather a cop-out for avoiding meaningful action. People invoke "patience" to rationalize inaction that stems from fear, laziness, or a failure to understand what matters or how to achieve it. If you are driving needed change in your organization and repeatedly hear phrases like "We'll get to that later," "The culture won't support it," and "There's no appetite for that yet," you are not encountering patience. You are encountering complacency. And if you encounter complacency enough times, you can safely conclude you have landed in an organization that tolerates it, or perhaps even encourages it.

Consulting at the Border of Business and Technology - The Work the Line Blog

Also posted at Knowledge Work.

Is a 'Perfect Storm' of Mac Sales on the Horizon?

PC users don't really get the Mac and have never gotten the Mac. Since most of the world talks Windows, it's no surprise that few in the industry really appreciate the windfall that's in store for Apple Computer over the next 18 months.

The big deal for Mac users will be upgrades, primarily meaning the transition of the installed base of Mac users to the Intel-based machines. The first sign of the pent-up demand for newer, faster Macs can be seen in Apple's latest quarterly results. The sales of some 800,000 notebooks—almost all the high-priced spread—represents a 61 percent increase from the year-ago quarter.
Is a 'Perfect Storm' of Mac Sales on the Horizon? (eWeek)

Tom Friedman: On the Eve of Madness

It's behind the TimesSelect Firewall, but I'm quoting Tom Friedman (aka Captain Obvious) this morning anyway:
There is nothing that you can’t do to someone in the Middle East today, and there is no leader or movement — no Nelson Mandela and no million-mom march — coming out of this region, or into this region, to put a stop to the madness.

And I mean madness. We’ve seen Sunni Muslims in Iraq suicide-bomb a Shiite mosque on Ramadan; we’ve seen Shiite militiamen torture Sunnis in Iraq by drilling holes in their heads with power tools; we’ve seen Jordanian Islamist parliamentarians mourning the terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, even though he once blew up a Jordanian wedding; we’ve seen hundreds of Palestinian suicide bombings of Israeli cafes and buses; and we’ve seen Israel retaliating by, at times, leveling whole buildings, with the guilty and the innocent inside.

Now we’ve seen the Hezbollah leader, Hasan Nasrallah, take all
of Lebanon into a devastating, unprovoked war with Israel, just to improve his political standing and take pressure off Iran.

America should be galvanizing the forces of order — Europe, Russia, China and India — into a coalition against these trends. But we can’t. Why? In part, it’s because our president and secretary of state, although they speak with great moral clarity, have no moral authority. That’s been shattered by their performance in Iraq.

The world hates George Bush more than any U.S. president in my lifetime. He is radioactive — and so caught up in his own ideological bubble that he is incapable of imagining or forging alternative strategies.

On the Eve of Madness - New York Times

P.S. Plenty of places to read Captain O on the Web if you don't have TimesSelect.

The Hacker's Diet

My doctor has been on me about losing more weight.

I wonder how he'd feel about The Hacker's Diet?

28 July 2006

NYT: Tide of Arab Opinion Turns to Support for Hezbollah

At the onset of the Lebanese crisis, Arab governments, starting with Saudi Arabia, slammed Hezbollah for recklessly provoking a war, providing what the United States and Israel took as a wink and a nod to continue the fight.

Now, with hundreds of Lebanese dead and Hezbollah holding out against the vaunted Israeli military for more than two weeks, the tide of public opinion across the Arab world is surging behind the organization, transforming the Shiite group’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, into a folk hero and forcing a change in official statements.

The Saudi royal family and King Abdullah II of Jordan, who were initially more worried about the rising power of Shiite Iran, Hezbollah’s main sponsor, are scrambling to distance themselves from Washington.

Tide of Arab Opinion Turns to Support for Hezbollah - New York Times

27 July 2006

Happy to be home

The enrevanche family is back from two weeks of summer travels, and there was a joyous reunion on Monday as all of the quadrupeds rejoined their human family members in our tiny little NYC apartment.

Apparently, there are a few mice left in the apartment building who got bold during Mister Gato's two-week spiritual retreat (where he rose before dawn, drank from ice-cold mountain streams, and did scary feline martial-arts exercises by the light of the sunrise, apparently.)

On his return home, he immediately parked himself by one of the traditional rodent ingress/egress routes (a crack where the plaster wall meets the floor that is structurally impossible to patch, apparently) and has stuck close by for several days.

gato on station scaled
Watchful waiting

Interestingly, we haven't seen or heard any mice.

On the other hand, if you looked out of your mousehole and saw *this*, would you make a move?

a mouse eye view scaled
A mouse's-eye view of Mister G

Come Friday, check out The Modulator's Friday Ark for more bloggers' pets from around the world, and be sure to visit Sunday's Carnival of the Cats, hosted at The Scratching Post.

Bill Whittle: The Web Of Trust

Bill Whittle has posted the first chapter of the book he's been toiling away on for the last several months:

There was a time – and being born in 1959, I am old enough to remember it – when the idea of Civilization needed no explanation or defense. Everybody knew what it meant. Civilization was tied to another term, now likewise mocked, and that term is Progress.

Progress was the idea that society was moving forward, upward, toward higher goals – better medicine, faster transportation, the brutality of hard labor replaced by stronger, then smarter machines; abundant energy, increased wealth and leisure: all of these things were greatly desired, and society was proud to provide them, proud to show them off in World Fairs and Expos and in the mythology of the movies.

Now “progress” and “civilization” are ironic terms, in sneer quotes, muttered with that pathetic, bored tone of cynical nihilism started by the narcissistic brats that I have been ten years behind for my entire life. Today, I try to exercise and watch my weight only so that I may live long enough to see the last of these radical hippies die in their sleep.

The entire concept of Civilization has been so deconstructed, and vilified, that by having the audacity to defend the ideals of Civilized behavior Your Author has been called a racist (nope – I happen to have African Ancestors!), a repressed homosexual (please – I have two pairs of shoes!) and even a potential cannibal! (What happens in Papua New Guinea, stays in Papua New Guinea.)

Eject! Eject! Eject!: CHAPTER ONE - THE WEB OF TRUST

Party like it's 1773

Hey now. Here's a third party whose platform I can get behind:

The Boston Tea Party.

Formed by Tom Knapp, who was pretty disenchanted with the hijinks at the most recent Libertarian Party convention, the Boston Tea Party wants to be a home for Americans of libertarian inclination who have given up on the LP:

In the heat of the moment, I define the Boston Tea Party thusly:

"The Boston Tea Party is a reaction to the Libertarian Party's decision, at its 2006 national convention, to abdicate its political responsibilities to the American people."

As of this moment, the Libertarian Party appears to have announced that, in the 2006 election cycle, it takes no positions on several frontline issues facing the American electorate -- specifically, foreign and military policy and internal security.

Believing this to be true, believing the damage to be irreparable in time for the Libertarian Party to exert a significant impact on the 2006 or 2008 election cycles, and believing that the libertarian movement requires and deserves a political party which stands behind its public policy goals, I've decided to run up a new flag.

(Yes, in the best libertarian tradition, it's a splinter group throwing off a splinter group... c.f. "Marxists of the Right" and all that. If libertarian politics actually interests you, and you're interested in actually getting things done, may I modestly suggest that you check out the Republican Liberty Caucus as well?)

bostontea.us | time to party like it's 1773

CAD renderings of the Brady Bunch house


Living RM 1
Originally uploaded by robertreedfan32.
On the classic television comedy The Brady Bunch, the father, Mike Brady (played by Robert Reed), was an architect, and the rather large family lived in an interesting modernistic house.

It was only a matter of time before someone did a lovingly detailed series of CAD (Computer-Assisted Design) renderings of the Brady house in 3D.

That time is... now.

Hat tip: BoingBoing

25 July 2006

French police thwart joint-rolling world record attempt

Police in France said they had thwarted an attempt by a group of marijuana smokers to roll the world's longest joint by seizing a work-in-progress measuring 80 centimetres (32 inches) in length.

[...]

During an investigation targeting a group of four smokers in the eastern Vosges area of France, police discovered the giant joint containing 70 grams of marijuana resin. It had not been finished because of a lack of tobacco.
Yes, that's right, folks. They had all the hash they needed, but they ran out of *tobacco*.

(sigh) Kids these days.

French police thwart joint-rolling world record attempt (Agence France-Presse via Breitbart.com)

Dear George, Part II

A followup to an earlier post (and letter):
25 July 2006

President George W Bush
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
The White House
Washington, DC 20500-0003


Dear President Bush,

As a lifelong Republican (who voted for you twice), and as a diabetic and the husband of a cancer survivor, I wanted to write you personally to express my dismay and displeasure regarding your veto of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act (H.R. 810).

I find it absolutely incredible that, of all the noxious and poorly thought-out bills that you have signed into law during your two terms of office, you chose this particular occasion to exercise your first Presidential veto.

I am thoroughly disheartened when I see how the stem cell issue has been hyped, abused and demagogued by religious extremists in my own party... and as someone who believes that biotechnology is a key industry for America’s economic future, I am appalled at your failure to empower sensible, ethical legislation for stem-cell research. You are essentially conceding the next generation of advances in biotech research to the likes of South Korea and Singapore, a decision our native biotechnology industry may never recover from.

You let down millions of Americans who suffer from illnesses that might one day be treated with gene therapies derived from stem cells, all in the name of pandering to a scientifically illiterate base and demonstrating a bloody-minded false consistency on any topic that can be remotely associated with the abortion issue.

As the 2006 elections come up, and as 2008 approaches, I and many other Republicans who do not agree with the radical right’s social-conservative agenda will be carefully evaluating our options.

You made it a little bit harder for me to remain a Republican last week, and I won’t forget it.


Sincerely,


Barry T. Campbell

How To Be an Expert on Anything

PICK A FIELD THAT CAN'T BE VERIFIED. Try something like string theory or God’s will: “I speak to God. I’m sorry that you can’t also.” Security experts are in this category: They have security clearances, we don’t. We can’t question the expertise of the NSA because we are not in the NSA.

CHOOSE A SUBJECT THAT'S ACTUALLY SECRET. Dan Brown invented a secret subject for The Da Vinci Code, so now he is forever an expert on this secret subject that no one can challenge. Anybody who attacks the secret subject is, by definition, part of the cabal.
Wired 14.08: Be an Expert on Anything (Stephen Colbert, interviewed by John Hockenberry)

Congressional Research Service Reports on the Middle East

Courtesy of the Federation of American Scientists, here are some useful and interesting Congressional Research Service Reports on the Middle East.

Of particular interest is the July 21, 2006 report on the Hamas/Hezbollah-Israel war (PDF link).

Excerpt:
The extension of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into the Lebanese arena has created a multifaceted crisis which cuts across a number of U.S. policy issues in the Middle East. This report not only discusses the current military situation, but its implications for regional stability, Syrian influence in Lebanon and calls for Lebanese independence, Iranian regional aspirations and its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, and energy security. This report will be updated as events unfold.

USNews.com: IBM chief on the global role of corporations

In his satirical new book Rome, Inc.: The Rise and Fall of the First Multinational Corporation, Stanley Bing humorously makes the case that the proto-capitalistic Imperium Romanum--with its bold takeovers, power-mad CEOs, and compelling brand--was the beta version of the globe-spanning Microsofts, General Electrics, and IBMs of today. Or perhaps more accurately, the Enrons and WorldComs of yesterday. While Rome Inc. had a great multicentury run, eventually it went out of business. One wonders if the feckless Emperor Honorius, watching the Visigoths coming over the seventh hill in A.D. 410, truly realized that the Roman Empire was about to fall.

Granted, IBM CEO Samuel Palmisano doesn't have to contend with Visigoths, Vandals, and other pesky barbarians. But like any modern CEO, he does have to deal with flash mob protests by antiglobalization advocates, company-bashing websites, protectionist legislation, and a high-velocity, Internet-connected world where the burgeoning Chinese and Indian economies spawn both profitable market opportunities and lethal competitors.

To succeed in this challenging global environment, Palmisano contends, IBM should be the last multinational corporation. Don't panic, Big Blue shareholders: He's talking evolution here, not extinction. In recent essays for the Financial Times newspaper and Foreign Affairs magazine, Palmisano went public with his big-think idea: The era of the multinational corporation is coming to a close.
USNews.com: IBM chief on the global role of corporations

24 July 2006

Mark Steyn on Palestine, Lebanon and terror

In Causeries du Lundi, Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve recalls a Parisian dramatist watching the revolutionary mob rampaging through the street below and beaming: 'See my pageant passing!' That's how opportunist Arabs and indulgent Europeans looked on the intifada and the terrorists and the schoolgirl suicide bombers: as a kind of uber-authentic piece of performance art with which to torment the Jews and the Americans. They never paused to ask themselves: Hey, what if it doesn't stop there?

Well, about 30 years too late, they're asking it now. For the first quarter-century of Israel's existence, the Arab states fought more or less conventional wars against the Zionists, and kept losing. So then they figured it was easier to anoint a terrorist movement and in 1974 declared Yasser Arafat's PLO to be the 'sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people,' which is quite a claim for an organization then barely half-a-decade old. Amazingly, the Arab League persuaded the U.N. and the EU and Bill Clinton and everyone else to go along with it and to treat the old monster as a head of state who lacked only a state to head. It's true that many nationalist movements have found it convenient to adopt the guise of terrorists. But, as the Palestinian 'nationalist' movement descended from airline hijackings to the intifada to self-detonating in pizza parlors, it never occurred to their glamorous patrons to wonder if maybe this was, in fact, a terrorist movement conveniently adopting the guise of nationalism.
Mark Steyn: Failure to solve Palestinian question empowers Iran (Chicago Sun-Times)

Hat tip: Chap

The predictable condemners

By hiding behind their own civilians the Islamic radicals issue a challenge to democracies: Either violate your own morality by coming after us and inevitably killing some innocent civilians, or maintain your morality and leave us with a free hand to target your innocent civilians.

This challenge presents democracies such as Israel with a lose-lose option, and the terrorists with a win-win option.

There is one variable that could change this dynamic and present democracies with a viable option that could make terrorism less attractive as a tactic: The international community, the anti-Israel segment of the media and the so called 'human rights' organizations could stop falling for this terrorist gambit and acknowledge that they are being used to promote the terrorist agenda.

Whenever a democracy is presented with the lose-lose option and chooses to defend its citizens by going after the terrorists who are hiding among civilians, this trio of predictable condemners can be counted on by the terrorists to accuse the democracy of 'overreaction,' 'disproportionality' and 'violations of human rights.'
The predictable condemners (Alan Dershowitz, writing in The Jerusalem Post)

The World According to Nick - Lazy RINO Sightings

RINO Sightings are up at The World According to Nick.

The Commissar on the division of Iraq

The de facto division of Iraq has started, as Sunnis and Shiites leave mixed areas for homogeneous areas. It hardly needs to be said the Kurdistan has, for all practical purposes, already separated itself. In looking at countrywide maps, the division of the remainder into Sunni and Shiite sections would seem fairly straightforward. It is in the cities, especially Baghdad with its mixed character and large population, where the division will be the most painful.
The division of Iraq (The Politburo Diktat)

Kos's Israel Problem

Perhaps sensing that this issue could highlight just how far removed the Kos community is from the American mainstream, Moulitsas and his other front-page bloggers have opted to ignore Israel's war. Combined, the half dozen front-pagers have written exactly one post on the subject. And that post, authored by Moulitsas, simply declared that he wouldn't write anything further on the subject. So while the most important story of the year develops, the nation's leading progressive blog has chosen to focus on the Indiana second district House race between Chris Chocola and Joe Donnelly. Nothing wrong with that; it's their prerogative to blog about whatever they like.

But inside the Kos diaries, it's been a different story. The conversation in the diaries has been overwhelmingly anti-Israel--and potentially disastrous for the Democratic party.

One diarist labeled Israel 'a destabilizing force in the region' and saw 'no difference between Iran's support of Hezbollah and Hamas in the form of finances and even arms and The United States' financial support of Israel.' Before modifying this diary into a more moderate form, the author opened his essay with the declaration, 'Israel is showing the entire world why the Iranian President was absolutely right to suggest that Israel cease being a sovereign state as is.'
Kos, Hezbollah, and Israel (The Weekly Standard)

This is an interesting point: the commenters and "diarists" tend to reflect the true feelings of the community that reads a blog. The Kossacks are no exception.

This has some ugly implications on the right-wing side of the fence too, however... as anyone who has ever spent any time in the comments section at Little Green Footballs can attest.

My personal opinion is that the best response to a Pharisee was established a couple thousand years ago:
So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone... (John 8:7)
Hat tip: Ann Althouse.

23 July 2006

WFB on GWB, redux

[Father of the modern American conservative movement William F.] Buckley finds himself parting ways with President Bush, whom he praises as a decisive leader but admonishes for having strayed from true conservative principles in his foreign policy.

In particular, Buckley views the three-and-a-half-year Iraq War as a failure.

'If you had a European prime minister who experienced what we've experienced it would be expected that he would retire or resign,' Buckley says.
Buckley Criticizes President For Interventionist Policies - CBS News

22 July 2006

Guest kitties: Oscar and Violet

Carrie and I continue on our 2006 Heartland Tour (reports that we have been sighted in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri are largely accurate); while Mister Gato and the Chow Chows chill out in their respective NYC pet hotels, we borrowed some cats from friends we stayed with on the road for this week's catblogging.

Everyone, meet Violet and Oscar.

Violet the Cat
Violet the Cat (motto: Please maintain a respectful distance at all times. Thank you.)

Oscar The Cat
Oscar the Cat (motto: Are you gonna eat that? Can I have some?)

Mister Gato will return to his normal catbloggging slot next week. In the meantime, please visit The Modulator's Friday Ark (which we're late boarding this week) for more bloggers' pets from around the world, and be sure to check out Sunday's Carnival of the Cats, hosted at Creatures of the Earth.

20 July 2006

Blastocyst rights now!

In a stunning victory for scientific illiteracy, Dubya did, in fact, exercise his first-ever presidential veto to blow away the stem-cell research bill.

There was never any doubt, of course; Bush's preference for pandering on issues of symbolic importance to so-called "social conservatives" is well known, and a bloody-minded false consistency on *anything* having to do with abortion is clearly far more important than the possibility of empowering research that could alleviate the suffering of millions.

This mouthbreathing idiot has done more damage to the conservative movement in America than anyone the Democratic Party could have come up with, and Republicans are going to pay the price in November, and in 2008.

The evolving Republican message on Iraq

Yep, there's an election coming up... and plenty of worried (and vulnerable) Republicans.
Rank-and file Republicans who once adamantly backed the administration on the war are moving to a two-stage new message, according to some lawmakers. First, Republicans are making it clear to constituents they do not agree with every decision the president has made on Iraq. Then they boil the argument down to two choices: staying and fighting or conceding defeat to a vicious enemy.

The shift is subtle, but Republican lawmakers acknowledge that it is no longer tenable to say the news media are ignoring the good news in Iraq and painting an unfair picture of the war.

[...]

"It's like after Katrina, when the secretary of homeland security was saying all those people weren't really stranded when we were all watching it on TV," said Rep. Patrick T. McHenry (R-N.C.). "I still hear about that. We can't look like we won't face reality."
GOP Lawmakers Edge Away From Optimism on Iraq (Washington Post, July 20, 2006)

19 July 2006

They won't be reading this in India

As India’s financial capital, Mumbai, observed a moment of silence today to commemorate the serial bombings of its commuter trains seven days ago, a blistering silence blanketed the Indian blogosphere.

For reasons yet unexplained by the authorities, the Indian government has apparently directed local Internet service providers to block access to a handful of outlets that host blogs, including the popular blogspot.com. Indian bloggers have reacted with anger and confusion, accusing the government of censorship and demanding to know why their sites have been jammed.

Nilanjana Roy, a Delhi-based writer who runs kitabkhana.blogspot.com, a literary blog, called the seeming censorship “a dangerous precedent.”

“You have a right to know what is being banned, and why it’s being banned,” she said. “I can understand if it’s China or Iran or Saudi Arabia. I’m truly appalled when it’s my country doing this.”
India Blocks Blogs in Wake of Mumbai Bombings - New York Times

IT budgets lag behind revenues: Gartner

When it comes to parceling out the money, IT is the first to be fired and the last to be hired:

Organisations are not increasing their IT investment at the same rate the business is growing, according to a study by Gartner.

But IT budgets are also harder hit and more negatively affected by a fall in company revenue, Gartner found.

The analysis of nearly 900 companies worldwide compared actual and planned IT spending patterns against revenue during the past three years.

It found that even in organisations with sales growth of 10 per cent the IT budget increases remained at five per cent or less.

Silicon.com: IT Budgets Lag Behind Business Growth (Related: Gartner Group press release, 14 July 2006).

Message: If you’re in the Information Technology sector, you need to understand how your IT department aligns with your organization’s business goals, and you’d better be able to articulate and prove the value that you’re providing.

Go get yourself some ITIL training.

(Also posted at Knowledge Work.)

18 July 2006

You're gonna use the first veto of your entire freaking Presidency for THIS?

July 18, 2006

President George Bush
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
The White House
Washington, DC 20500-0003

Dear President Bush,

As a person affected by diabetes, I strongly urge you to enact H.R. 810, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act.

As you know, diabetes is a serious, life-threatening, chronic illness for which there is no cure. Not enacting H.R. 810 would be a devastating setback for the nearly 21 million American children and adults living with the disease!

I strongly believe that all forms of stem cell research should move forward within a strong ethical framework. By expanding the number of stem cell lines that are eligible for federally funded research while also implementing the strong, ethical guidelines, H.R. 810 not only provides hope of a cure to patients with type 1 diabetes but improved treatment options for all people with diabetes!

I sincerely hope you uphold your duty not only to me, but to the 70% of Americans who support the use of embryonic stem cell research in order to pursue cures for diabetes and dozens of other debilitating and deadly diseases. Don't Veto H.R. 810!


Sincerely,

Barry Campbell

An Emergency Broadcast System for the new era

"This is a test. For the next sixty seconds, this station will conduct a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. This is only a test."

[ATTENTION TONE]

"This has been a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. The broadcasters of your area in voluntary cooperation with the FCC and other authorities have developed this system to keep you informed in the event of an emergency.

"If this had been an actual emergency, you would have been instructed where to tune in your area for news and official information".

"This concludes this test of the Emergency Broadcast System."

If you're a child of the sixties, seventies, or eighties, chances are you grew up hearing those announcements on radio and television.

Well, now the Emergency Broadcast System (which was retired in the 90s and replaced with the Emergency Alert System) is going high-tech; the Feds are developing and testing a system that will allow them to send SMS text messages to all cell phones, and to broadcast emergency messages to all computers on the Internet (it'll be interesting to see how they implement that last one.)
Internet-linked computers will automatically switch on to a video message from the US Department of Homeland Security while downloading instructions prepared specifically from natural disasters, chemical and nuclear attacks, and other calamities.
US unveils emergency alert system for mobile phones, computers

17 July 2006

One flag too high

The faith of Islam is in fighting trim. In millions, the Islamists are traveling and settling abroad. From these reserves we get occasional irruptions of high-tech loathing, in lower Manhattan and Washington, D.C., in Spanish trains, in British subways. The elderly voices of Islam that stressed toleration and cohabitation are so quiet they might as well be silent. Columnist Pat Buchanan gives us a prickly rundown: 'Islamists are taking over in Somalia. They are in power in Sudan. The Muslim Brotherhood won 60 percent of the races it contested in Egypt. Hezbollah swept the board in southern Lebanon. Hamas seized power from Fatah in the West Bank and Gaza. The Shia parties who hearken to Ayatollah Sistani brushed aside our favorites, Chalabi and Iyad Allawi, in the Iraqi elections. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the most admired Iranian leader since Khomeini. In Afghanistan, the Taliban is staging a comeback.'

All the world is waiting to see what is going to happen in Egypt after three decades of the most expensive U.S. patronage in history (matched only by our patronage of Israel). And what of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and Indonesia? Not many are predicting that the future there will be pacific and liberal.

Two challenges are posed. The first is relatively manageable: Lower the flag on American universalism -- not to half-mast, but not as toplofty as it has been flying since the end of the Second World War. The second is tougher. Why is Islam burning bright? What on earth do they have that we don't get from Christ our King? If what they want is a religious war, are we disposed to fight it?
"One Flag Too High" - William F. Buckley, July 17, 2006

RINO Sightings at Classical Values

This week's batch of RINO Sightings are up at Classical Values: Classical Values :: Raging RINOs, long may they range!

A Deadwood Intervention

Warning: strong language ahead, even in excerpt.

Fans of the HBO series Deadwood will be completely blown away by the following post on the Television Without Pity discussion board, from user MizDarwin.

It's a twelve-step intervention, Deadwood-style.

Step 1:
1. We cocksuckers came to acknowledge that we were fuckin' powerless over fuckin' alcohol, laudanum, dope, titlickin', antler worship, and whatever other fuckin' pecadilloes you care to name, and that our lives had become as un-fuckin'-manageable as a saloon full of whores on the eve of their monthlies...
Brace yourselves, and then click on the link to read the whole thing.

And for those of you who aren't Deadwood fans and just swallowed your tongues at the uncharacteristic language here on enrevanche, we're heartily fuckin' sorry.

A Deadwood Intervention (MizDarwin on Television Without Pity, post #70 in thread)

Related links:

16 July 2006

A weekend in DC

Carrie and I were in the DC area this weekend for a family wedding. We stayed at the very comfortable Hyatt in Bethesda, Maryland, ate some great food (this is a good town for restaurants) and suffered through some of the hottest, muggiest weather ever.

July in DC: 95 degrees, close to 100% humidity, and oh, by the way, the District is averaging slightly more than one murder per day; per the DC Metro Police, the city is in a state of "crime emergency."

Catching the train back to NYC in a couple hours.

15 July 2006

Meet Jeff

Jeff and Mister Gato must be twin sons of different mothers:
Jeff is a large orange tomcat that lives and kills in Shadow Hills, CA.

Jeff has adopted our back porch and yard as his home. He uses our dog's house when it rains, but mostly he likes to sleep on our patio chairs and keep watch over his domain.

Though he doesn't really belong to us, we provide Jeff with food and water; however, this does little to lessen his killer instinct. To humans, Jeff is an exceptionally good-tempered and friendly cat; to rodents and other small animals, he is death itself.

It could be that Jeff likes to bring us gifts to repay our hospitality. Perhaps he is simply a hardwired killing machine. All we know for certain is that he hunts down a wide variety of small animals and disembowels, decapitates, and dines on them. Often.
WhatJeffKilled.com: About Jeff

Hat tip: J-Walk via Chap.

14 July 2006

Things look grim for Barbaro

The champion horse has laminitis in his left hind foot.
"His ears are up, he's bright, he's looking around," Dr. Dean Richardson said Thursday. "If you look at this horse, it'd be hard to put him down."

That precisely is the heartbreaking task that could be imminent because of a hoof disease so serious Richardson said the Kentucky Derby winner is "a long shot" to survive.

"It could happen within 24 hours," Richardson said during a news conference at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center.

Richardson said Barbaro has a severe case of laminitis in his left hind leg -- a painful, often fatal disease caused by uneven weight distribution in the limbs.

"If he starts acting like he doesn't want to stand on the leg, that's it. That will be when we call it quits," he said.
ESPN: Barbaro has life-threatening inflammation in hind foot

13 July 2006

Mister Gato is on vacation.


Smug Kitty
Originally uploaded by enrevanche.
Regular catblogging will resume in two weeks. Relax; Mister Gato is just fine. While his owners are travelling, he is staying at a local resort hotel, earning his keep by working as a greeter.

CCH Financial Planning Toolkit

Just a quick pointer to a great collection of financial planning resources:

CCH Financial Planning Toolkit | Planning Tools

Windows Update alternative from Shavlik

Brian Livingston's "Windows Secrets" newsletter is one of the few industry publications I subscribe to; he's a no-nonsense techie who keeps abreast of Developments You Should Know About.

Well, here's a Development You Should Know About: Microsoft has started cramming spyware into their automatic "security" updates, and concerned users now have a great, free alternative to Windows Update:
In my last issue, I reported that Microsoft's in-house Windows Update routine is now likely to download marketing gimmicks such as Windows Genuine Advantage to your PC. I advised all Windows users, other than novices, to turn off Automatic Updates.

Because promptly patching Windows is vitally important to your security, however, I recommended a trusted, third-party replacement: Shavlik Technologies' HFNetChkPro, which supports a much wider variety of programs than does Windows Update. The only downside is that the HFNetChkPro software, while priced reasonably at $25 USD per PC, requires a license for a minimum of 5 PCs.

After that newsletter appeared, Shavlik released a stunning improvement on this frustrating situation. The company's NetChk Protect — which offers antispyware scanning in addition to patch-management — is now completely free for 1 to 10 PCs for one year.
Free Windows Update alternative is released (Windows Secrets)

Related:

12 July 2006

RIP Syd, redux

A trio of thoughtful remembrances of Syd Barrett this morning, from the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the San Francisco Chronicle.

See also: the BBC and especially this lovingly detailed article in the Guardian (UK):
Like many other questing spirits who came to age in the mid-60s, he was inspired by taking LSD to create truly daring, other-wordly music - first for the original incarnation of Pink Floyd, then as a solo singer/songwriter - but the drug ended up fatally fracturing his psyche and turning him into a solitary recluse unable to function within the music industry and society in general. The story of his personal meltdown has been told and retold as a cautionary tale for indiscriminate druggies to the point where Barrett's status as rock's most illustrious casualty often threatens to outweigh his actual creative contributions to the form. This is not as it should be.
Although I am a fan of Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, I think that arguably Syd's finest achievement was the album he recorded after mental illness (combined with daily LSD use) had already begun to take very firm hold of his life.

This record, The Madcap Laughs, was almost a Pink Floyd album anyway, as Syd had considerable assistance in the studio from Roger Waters and David Gilmour, and was hugely influential on two generations of musicians that followed.

11 July 2006

The Management of Savagery

The genre of “strategic studies”—the name given by jihadi ideologues to their books and articles on the strengths and weakness of the jihadi movement and those of its enemies—had, until recently, been neglected by Western governments and analysts involved with counterterrorism...

...[O]ne reason for the neglect of works in this genre is that they are written in Arabic and they are often quite lengthy. Moreover, they are much more difficult to translate than the usual diatribes by Bin Ladin and other prominent jihadi leaders...

In recognition of their value, the Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard commissioned William McCants in 2005 to translate one of the most recent and significant of these works, Abu Bakr Naji’s Management of Savagery... The Olin Institute, in collaboration with West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center, is making this translation available online for free. Writing as a high-level insider, Naji explains how al-Qaeda plans to defeat the U.S. and its allies in the Middle East, establish sanctuaries for Jihadis, correct organizational problems, and create better propaganda. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the strategic thinking of al-Qaeda’s leadership and the future of the jihadi movement.

Article: The Management of Savagery

Related:

Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs

Syd Barrett, who founded Pink Floyd but later lived as a recluse, has died at the age of 60, according to a spokeswoman for the band.

A spokeswoman for Pink Floyd told the Press Association: 'He died very peacefully a couple of days ago. There will be a private family funeral.'
CNN.com - Pink Floyd legend Syd Barrett dies - Jul 11, 2006

08 July 2006

"The same longitude as Akron, Ohio"

After last year's devastating hurricane season, property developers are getting creative in how they pitch waterfront developments. Here are some blurbs from the press release for Liberty Harbor, a $1.5 billion residential community planned for Brunswick, on the Georgia coast...

...Brunswick sits on the western-most point of the East Coast (same longitude as Akron, OH), and has not been hit by a hurricane in over 100 years.
BusinessWeek Online: "The Westernmost Point On The Coast" (July 6, 2006)

Know your audience (Overheard In New York)

Know Your Audience

Crazy guy, yelling: Macaroni and cheese! [No one responds.] With chocolate mousse on top! [No one responds.] Mashed potatoes and gravy! [No one responds.] George Bush is bringing peace to the world through strength and diplomacy!
Woman: Shut up!

--uptown 6 train

Overheard by: the fashionatrix


via Overheard in New York, Jul 8, 2006

OMG, teh cute

Baby tiger cub gets a checkup.

Suggested caption: "Try shining a bright light in my eyes in about three more months, m******f*****."

(Look at the size of those paws, and the look in his eye... he's calculating the angle of the necessary sweep to the jugular...)

07 July 2006

the view from my window


the view from my window
Originally uploaded by enrevanche.
Sully has been running a series, "The View from My Window," in which he publishes photographs sent by the readers of his blog, showing the view from the window of the room they're sitting in.

Here's the view from the window of our combined living room/home office in Greenwich Village, New York City, New York.

Children, this is called an "air shaft." Can you say "air shaft?"

I knew you could!

06 July 2006

Cat in the manger

A while back I was describing an amusing new dominance tactic of Mister Gato's. In the morning, when I feed the animals, Gato has to taste the dogs' food before he eats his own.

If the dogs try to get to their bowls before he finishes, there's a fair bit of hissing and spitting, and they have learned to keep a respectful distance while he chokes down his ritual nugget or two of their Iams. It's not that he likes it.... it's just the principle of the thing; the alpha animal eats first in a dog pack.

I was casting about for an appropriate description of this tactic, when erudite blogfriend Sissy Willis suggested, in the comments, "cat in the manger" (from dog in the manger... see below.)
Someone who has a dog-in-the-manger attitude has something of value that he cannot or will not use himself but which he won’t let anybody else have either...

...[t]he allusion is to one of Aesop’s fables, written about 600BC, in which a dog was taking a nap in a manger. When an ox came and tried to eat the hay in the manger, the dog barked furiously, snapped at him and wouldn’t let him get at his food, food that, of course, was useless to the dog. At last the ox gave up and went away muttering, “Ah, people often grudge others what they cannot enjoy themselves”.

Cat in the manger, indeed... or as the French might say, le chat doit manger ("the cat has to eat.")

Finally got a picture to share with you.

Cat in the manger scaled
Mister Gato likes ethnic food.

Be sure to visit The Modulator's Friday Ark to see pictures of other bloggers' pets; this Sunday, the Carnival of the Cats is hosted by the most excellent Music and Cats.

Nature's Top 50 science blogs

news@nature.com: Top 50 Science Blogs

Hat tip: John deVille

Candidacy Fosters A Debate On Race

David Yassky has a solid résumé, lots of campaign cash and plenty of ideas for improving the slice of Brooklyn he wants to represent in Congress. In another Democratic stronghold, he might be the runaway favorite.

But in New York's 11th District, Yassky's candidacy has touched off a controversy about race and turned a sleepy primary contest into an emotionally charged debate over minority political representation. The 11th District is one of the dozens of majority-black seats created in the aftermath of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act. And Yassky, unlike his three primary opponents, is white.
Candidacy Fosters A Debate On Race (Washington Post, July 6, 2006)

Racially gerrymandered districts, created with the best of intentions after the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed, have in fact created "safe seats" for minority elected officials in the past.

As district demographics and social mores change, however, the question is whether the best interests of minority constituents are being looked after.

05 July 2006

Blogrolled: words / myth / ampers & virgule

New on the enrevanche blogroll:

words / myth / ampers & virgule

"Occasional essays on working with words and pictures—writing, editing, typographic design, web design, and publishing—from the perspective of a guy who has been putting squiggly marks on paper for over four decades and on the computer monitor for over two decades."

NYC fireworks

Gothamist has some great pictures of last night's NYC fireworks display, which we viewed from the roof of a friend's East Village apartment building, drinking champagne from tiny plastic cups.

Which, to my mind, is exactly the way to do it. Lots of "oohs" and "aahs" from the crowd, with occasional cheers and applause.


fireworks8 originally uploaded by bkgunner.

Related: New York City fireworks pix on Flickr

Online employment networks for older workers

Jerry Toomer retired from a 25-year career at Dow Chemical in 2003. But today he's back at work, having found a consulting job through an employment network designed specifically for older adults, YourEncore.com.

'I don't see myself as a retiree,' says Mr. Toomer, a 57-year-old organizational-development expert in Indianapolis. As part of his new responsibilities, 'I did a very interesting project where I helped the company foster innovation in its leading-edge R&D group,' he says. 'A great use of my expertise.'

Faced with the prospect of millions of retiring baby boomers, companies across the country, including Eli Lilly & Co., Procter & Gamble Co. and Boeing Co., are increasingly eager to lure back to the work force retirees with decades of experience in their chosen fields. But finding the right candidates has been tricky, with most companies relying on personal connections to locate willing older workers.
Online employment networks spring up for 55-plus crowd (The Wall Street Journal, via "Construction")

Why I'm awake at four in the morning

INTERIOR. NIGHT. A small Greenwich Village apartment, in an old and incompletely mouseproofed building.

Wife (groggily): What's that noise?
Husband: It sounds... like a cat meowing, with his mouth full.
Mister Gato (jumping onto bed, with half-dead mouse clamped in his teeth): Mrrrrowf!

04 July 2006

230 years ago today

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
The Declaration of Independence
declaration of independence

It's Independence Day

As long as we're pimping old podcasts around here, I'll just observe that last year's July 4th podcast was one of my favorites, too.

03 July 2006

Watermark: Carnival of the Cats #119 - Independence Edition

Carnival of the Cats #119 - Independence Edition is up at Watermark.

Britons tire of cruel, vulgar US: poll - Yahoo! News

People in Britain view the United States as a vulgar, crime-ridden society obsessed with money and led by an incompetent president whose Iraq policy is failing, according to a newspaper poll.

[...]

In answer to other questions, a majority of the Britons questions described Americans as uncaring, divided by class, awash in violent crime, vulgar, preoccupied with money, ignorant of the outside world, racially divided, uncultured and in the most overwhelming result (90 percent of respondents) dominated by big business.
Britons tire of cruel, vulgar US: poll - Yahoo! News

Well, yes.

On the other hand, we still do movies, software, and rapid pizza delivery better than anyone on the globe.

And speaking of Anglo-American relations, movies, vulgarity and violence (how's that for a segue?) as I read the news story above, I couldn't help recalling the old-fashioned country ass-whipping that Sheriff "Little Bill" Daggett, played by Gene Hackman, administers to "English Bob" (Richard Harris) in Clint Eastwood's unforgettable movie, Unforgiven:
Little Bill Daggett: You been talking about that Queen of yours, again, Bob?
[punches him]
Little Bill Daggett: On Independence Day?
[Little Bill viciously kicks English Bob]
Little Bill Daggett: I guess you think I'm kicking you, Bob. But it ain't so. What I'm doing is talking, you hear? I'm talking to all those villains down there in Kansas. I'm talking to all those villains in Missouri. And all those villains down there in Cheyenne. And what I'm saying is there ain't no whore's gold. And if there was, how they wouldn't want to come looking for it anyhow.

English Bob: A plague on you. A plague on the whole stinking lot of ya, without morals or laws. And all you whores got no laws. You got no honor. It's no wonder you all emigrated to America, because they wouldn't have you in England. You're a lot of savages, that's what you all are. A bunch of bloody savages. A plague on you. I'll be back.

Zed's dead, baby.

What Pulp Fiction Character Are You?

Tired of being underappreciated and manipulated by powerful "others," you fight back. Though possessing a cold, violent outside, you have a soft, sentimental inside. You love your partner, you cherish family heirlooms, and you want nothing more than to be genuinely happy -- but you don't mind having to kill a couple of nimrods who happen to clutter your path.

Take the What Pulp Fiction Character Are You? quiz.



Hat tip: Larry Bernard.

Cover me

Don Surber has a great post about his favorite cover versions of popular songs.

Don's tastes are both eclectic and impeccable--he lists artists ranging from Jay-Z to Ricky Nelson--and his commentary, insightful, viz:
3. "You Don't Know Me" by Ray Charles. Another selection from his 1962 "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music" album, it is a cover of a 1955 Eddy Arnold song. He took a song about unrequited love and turned it into an allegory about how white America overlooked black America.
Oh, man. Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, though it horrified many of his fans at the time, is one of the best albums Ray Charles ever recorded; sheer incandescent brilliance.

Back when I was doing a regular podcast, the single most popular episode I ever recorded was all about unusual cover versions of famous songs.
  • Pat Boone covering "Enter Sandman" (originally performed by Metallica)
  • Wang Chung covering "Hot In Herre" (originally performed by Nelly)
  • The Scala Youth Choir (from a little town in Belgium) covering "I Touch Myself" (originally performed by Divinyls) and "Perfect Day" (originally performed by Lou Reed)
  • Cake covering "I Will Survive" (originally performed by Gloria Gaynor)
  • R&B star Johnnie Taylor performing "Sixteen Tons" (which is a cover of a cover; originally performed by Merle Travis; famous version by Tennessee Ernie Ford)
  • Ozzy Osbourne performing "Stayin' Alive" (originally performed by the Bee Gees)
  • Indie songstress Nina Gordon performing "Straight Outta Compton" (originally performed by N.W.A.)
  • James Brown wailing "Your Cheatin' Heart" (originally performed by Hank Williams, Sr.)

The answer staff is in

For years, a small band of researchers at the New York Public Library has been tackling questions from young and old, the clueless and the haughty, the vexed and the unvexed, reducing life's infinite jumble to an answer, more or less.

Today, despite the Internet, the eight women and two men of what is known as the telephone reference service are still at it. Every day, except Sundays and holidays, between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., anyone, of any age, from anywhere can telephone 212-340-0849 and ask most any question.

CNET News: Library phone answerers survive the Internet


02 July 2006

S is for Stevie, that's good enough for me

Was talking a week or so ago with a friend about Sesame Street. He has a small child now, and was expressing the opinion that the show was a shadow of its former self... among other factors, the death of Jim Henson and the arrival of Elmo were cited as historical milestones in the Decline and Fall of the Children's Television Workshop.

Imagine my delight when I discovered, on YouTube, this glorious, seven-minute-long live performance of "Superstition," by Stevie Wonder, from the early 1970s...

On Sesame Street.

The phrase "Go, Cookie Monster" can be heard, and there are a couple of camera shots of a five or six year-old kid dancing like she's in a cage at the Whisky-A-Go Go. Stevie's band is beyond tight, and towards the end he even riffs on the Sesame Street theme.

American popular music in the public domain

In honor of Independence Day, I think you should hop right over to Foldedspace and download yourself some American music from the early days of the 20th century.
It's a shame most people are unfamiliar with American Popular Music. It's great fun. It occurred to me today that a lot of this music is in the Public Domain — I could rip mp3s from my collection and post them. So I have. All mp3s in this entry are in the Public Domain — download and share!

The best way to introduce this music is probably to offer the entire 1991 RCA collection called Nipper's Greatest Hits: 1901-1920. This disc is long out-of-print. It sells for $190 on Amazon. One copy recently sold for $60 on eBay. In the early days of eBay, I lost a bidding war for this disc. I contacted the winning bidder, and she graciously made me a copy of the disc and the insert.

There are 20 MP3s to choose from; I grabbed them all.

FoldedSpace: In The Good Old Summertime

Best. General Store. Ever.

Carrie informs us that in Windsor, Maine, there's a general store called Hussey's.

If they don't have it in stock, you can probably get along without it
.

The items listed on the store's sign remind me of one of my favorite lines from Dr. Strangelove, in which Slim Pickens is reciting the contents of the on-board survival kit for each member of the bomber crew:
...one forty-five caliber automatic; two boxes of ammunition; four days' concentrated emergency rations; one drug issue containing antibiotics, morphine, vitamin pills, pep pills, sleeping pills, tranquilizer pills; one miniature combination Russian phrase book and Bible; one hundred dollars in rubles; one hundred dollars in gold; nine packs of chewing gum; one issue of prophylactics; three lipsticks; three pair of nylon stockings. Shoot, a fella could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff.

RINO Sightings, long July 4 Weekend Edition

First, a hearty "welcome back to the Intarwebs" to Rusty Shackleford of The Jawa Report, who had a recent spot of trouble with a distributed denial of service attack.

After nearly two weeks of fighting a cyberterrorist attack launched by Turkish Islamists, and then wrestling with a new server, The Jawa Report is back!

In honor of the long July 4th weekend, and in the best libertarian spirit, Don Surber invites us to Light 'Em If You Got 'Em (fireworks, that is.)

(I have no trouble with a right-to-bear-fireworks defense, but here's the enrevanche public service message related to that, from a guy who worked on the back of an ambulance all through college and treated his share of bone-stupid fireworks-related injuries: fireworks and intoxicants do not mix. Please stay sober if you're going to blow shit up, so as to avoid losing fingers and spending quality time in burn units. Thank you.)

Over at Politburo Diktat, the Commissar shares the hilarious story of how one guy tricked a Nigerian 419 scammer into hand-carving a Commodore 64 keyboard. Just go read it already.

And Buckley F. Williams, championing the Public's Right To Know, observers that the New York Times has spilled the beans about little Timmy Durgin's favorite hiding place.

A number of RINOs are commenting this week on the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court's disastrous Kelo v. New London decision.

At Fearless Philosophy for Free Minds, Stephen Littau reviews the damage done to property rights, as well as the political backlash.

And over at Searchlight Crusade, Dan Melson asks us, with apologies to John Lennon, to imagine there's no eminent domain--and what would happen then?

In more contemporary legal commentary, Cody Herche at Legal Redux offers an analysis of Hamdan v Rumsfeld, in which the Supremes smacked down the Imperial Presidency theorists of the Bush Justice Department. Cody's with the dissenters on this decision, fears that the outcome will actually leave Gitmo inmates in a worse position rights-wise in the long term, and offers this unforgettable line:

"If Scalia were a girl, I would marry him. Heck, I would marry him as is if we moved to the right state."

If you're looking to book the honeymoon, act now; Provincetown fills up fast this time of year, I'm led to understand.

Here at enrevanche, we'd like to call your attention to a post last week in which we introduced everyone to a little man-crush of our own: John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods Markets, Inc. According to something called the Corporate Crime Reporter, Mackey is a dangerous, volatile man... "a libertarian with right-wing tendencies."

Mercy! (Full disclosure: I own a little WFMI stock, going on Warren Buffett's theory that if you like the company's management and believe in its products, you could do worse than buy it. Of course, he buys the whole company, generally, and I just buy a few shares.)

Pigilito runs with a story this week about anti-Americanism... among the Swiss.

(I've lately been reading a book that I bought in the airport bookstore at Heathrow, called "Why Do People Hate America?" When I purchased it, it wasn't in print over here, but now it seems that you can order it from Amazon if you're so inclined.)


Mark Coffey of Decision '08 examines the Public Editor's defense of the New York Times Swift disclosures this week, and asks rhetorically, "for this, we need an ombudsman?

Eric Schele of Classical Values takes a look at the hype surrounding gun violence in Philadelphia, and wonders how many of the "victims" might actually have needed to be shot? (In other words, how many justifiable homicides were there in the mix?)

Finally, Atypical Joe wonders whether there's a new trend emerging: No TV. People in his circle of friends are abandoning their television service, though keeping the sets around to watch DVDs.

I think we'll cue up John Prine's Spanish Pipedream right about now, the chorus of which goes a little something like this:

Blow up your TV, throw away your paper,
Go to the country, build you a home
Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches,
Try and find Jesus on your own.

Works for me.

Have a wonderful Fourth of July, everyone. Eat some hot dogs, drink some beer, and go see some fireworks.

Advice for New MacBook Owners

Or, "Geeking Out With a New Mac Laptop."

Just a pointer to a new, long post over at Knowledge Work, in which I offer you helpful advice on how to spend your time and money after acquiring a new Intel-based Macintosh.
...[If] you are of the geekly inclination, you’re going to want to make some additional tweaks and purchases to optimize your Mac-using experience, especially if you have to continue to collaborate with colleagues who are tethered to their Windows machines. So with that in mind, here’s what I’ve learned in the first month of owning a new Intel-based Mac and fitting it out so that I can still work with my Windows peeps.
Advice for New MacBook Owners (Knowledge Work blog)

01 July 2006

New York Republican Liberty Caucus

Republicans in New York State with libertarian leanings (or, if you prefer, liberty-oriented Republicans) recently organized and chartered a state chapter of the nationwide Republican Liberty Caucus.
The New York State Republican Liberty Caucus, chartered in 2006, is part of the nationwide Republican Liberty Caucus. The Republican Liberty Caucus works to advance the principles of limited government, free markets and individual liberty within the Republican Party. Full membership is available to any registered Republican residing in the State of New York.
The web site is still in its infancy, but shows promise. (Full disclosure: I'm a member of this group. Um, and I might have had a little something to do with the web site.)

Understanding jihadi networks

Pyschiatrist and sociologist Marc Sageman has made a careful study of over 400 terrorists who sought to, and in many cases did, bring actual harm to the United States. He wrote a fascinating book about it (Understanding Terror Networks: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004) and also published a very interesting article in Strategic Insights:
The terrorist threat to the United States of America comes from a violent Islamist revivalist social movement, united by a utopian vision of justice and fairness. Our efforts to deal with this threat are hampered by the wide variety of commonly held beliefs about terrorism. Conventional wisdom offers up several explanations: terrorists are a product of poverty and broken families; ignorance; the lack of skills and opportunities; thelack of occupational or family responsibilities; weak-mindedness and vulnerability to brainwashing; mental illness, psychopathy or sociopathy; plain criminality; religious fanaticism; or simply evil.

[...]

[My] findings refute the conventional wisdom about terrorists. The global Salafi terrorists were generally middle-class, educated young men from caring and religious families, who grew up with strong positive values of religion, spirituality, and concern for their communities. They were truly global citizens, conversant in three or four languages, and skilled in computer technology. One of the striking findings of this sample is that three-fourths of the terrorists joined the jihad as expatriates, mostly as upwardly mobile young men studying abroad. At the time, they were separated from their original environment. An additional ten percent were second generation in the West, who felt a strong pull for the country of their parents. So a remarkable 84% were literally cut off from their culture and social origins. They were homesick, lonely, and alienated. Although they were intellectually gifted, they were marginalized, underemployed and generally excluded from the highest status in the new society.

Although they were not religious, they drifted to mosques for companionship. There, they met friends or relatives, with whom they moved in together often for dietary reasons. As their friendship intensified, they became a “bunch of guys,” resenting society at large, which excluded them, developing a common religious collective identity, and egging themselves on to greater extremism. By the time they joined the jihad, there was a dramatic shift in devotion to their faith...
Understanding Jihadi Networks - Strategic Insights, Volume IV, Issue 4 (April 2005)