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

27 November 2007

OLPC hits a snag or two

The One Laptop Per Child initiative is foundering on the rocky shoals of politics... and tech-company hardball:
In an interview with the BBC, Nigeria's education minister questioned the need for laptops in poorly equipped schools.

Dr Igwe Aja-Nwachuku said: "What is the essence of introducing One Laptop per Child when they don't have seats to sit down and learn; when they don't have uniforms to go to school in, where they don't have facilities?"

"We are more interested in laying a very solid foundation for quality education which will be efficient, effective, accessible and affordable."

The previous government of Nigeria had committed to buying one million laptops.

Dr Aja-Nwachuku said he was now assessing OLPC alongside other schemes from Microsoft and Intel.

[...]

Professor Bender said there was still an "aggressive" effort to undermine the charity.

"There is still a concerted misinformation campaign out there," he said.

Mr Bender said he would not speculate on who was behind the alleged campaign.

"Wherever it is coming from, it exists," he told BBC News.
Politics stifling $100 laptop (BBC News)

Technology companies, which at the end of the day are driven almost completely by ideas, are FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) generating machines.

When they perceive a threatening idea, they attack it publicly by spreading FUD (like a squid sprays ink), while privately angling to cut the best deal for themselves.

OLPC supporters see the project as almost pure altruism; Microsoft and Intel see it as having just created a massive new market... and one they desperately want a piece of.

As a practical matter, the laptop design that finally makes it to the masses is likely to be running some version of Windows and have "Intel inside."

25 November 2007

Rejecting the soft consensus on authoritarianism

lib•er•tar•ian
n. 1. a person who believes in the doctrine of the freedom of the will
2. a person who believes in full individual freedom of thought, expression and action
3. a freewheeling rebel who hates wiretaps, loves Ron Paul and is redirecting politics

[...]

When a fierce Republican foe of the wars on drugs and terrorism is able, without really trying, to pull in a record haul of campaign cash on a day dedicated to an attempted regicide, it's clear that a new and potentially transformative force is growing in American politics.

That force is less about [Ron] Paul than about the movement that has erupted around him -- and the much larger subset of Americans who are increasingly disillusioned with the two major political parties' soft consensus on making government ever more intrusive at all levels, whether it's listening to phone calls without a warrant, imposing fines of half a million dollars for broadcast "obscenities" or jailing grandmothers for buying prescribed marijuana from legal dispensaries.

[...]

...Paul's success has mostly left the mainstream media and pundits flustered, if not openly hostile. The Associated Press recently treated the Paul phenomenon like an alien life form: "The Texas libertarian's rise in the polls and in fundraising proves that a small but passionate number of Americans can be drawn to an advocate of unorthodox proposals." Republican pollster Frank Luntz has denounced Paul's supporters as "the equivalent of crabgrass . . . not the grass you want, and it spreads faster than the real stuff." And conservative syndicated columnist Mona Charen said out loud what many campaign reporters have no doubt been thinking all along: "He might make a dandy new leader for the Branch Davidians."

When conservatives feel comfortable mocking the victims gunned down by Clinton-era attorney general Janet Reno's FBI in Waco, Tex., in 1993, it suggests that a complacent and increasingly authoritarian establishment feels threatened.

lib•er•tar•ian (The Washington Post, November 25, 2007)

This way to the recession

I wouldn't necessarily take advice from Lawrence Summers on matters of gender politics in academia, but the man's still one of the smartest economists on the planet.

And he thinks we're in a heap of trouble:
Three months ago it was reasonable to expect that the subprime credit crisis would be a financially significant event but not one that would threaten the overall pattern of economic growth. This is still a possible outcome but no longer the preponderant probability.

Even if necessary changes in policy are implemented, the odds now favour a US recession that slows growth significantly on a global basis. Without stronger policy responses than have been observed to date, moreover, there is the risk that the adverse impacts will be felt for the rest of this decade and beyond.
Wake up to the dangers of a deepening crisis (Lawrence Summers, Financial Times, 25 November 2007)

Read on for Dr. Summers' diagnosis and policy prescriptions.

"Explain what's in it? No, no, that's far too boring..."

"...and then it's moved onto Wall Street, and it's rather extraordinary what happens then, and somehow, this package of dodgy debt stops being a package of dodgy debt and starts being what we call a Structured Investment Vehicle..."



John Fortune and John Bird, "The Long Johns," explain the subprime mortgage crisis on the South Bank show.

The conceit is that an expert, "George Parr," played interchangeably by either Mr. Bird or Mr. Fortune, is interviewed by an erudite chat show host played by whoever isn't playing George Parr. (Clear?)

The satire is especially brutal because largely fact-based.

See also: "George Parr" videos on YouTube, but especially George Parr on Iraqi Oil and George Parr, Conservative MP.

There's good news, and there's bad news...

“A man who might have died quietly in his bed of AIDS,” said Mr. Piot, “now faces the terrifying specter of watching his neighbors slip from their rooftops one-by-one, screaming until the rising deep muffles their voices, knowing that he faces the inevitable moment when his fingers slip from the chimney, the brine subdues his own shrieks and the sea becomes his tomb.”

Mr. Piot denied accusations that he makes alarmist statements to serve a political and fundraising agenda rather than following rigorous scientific processes.

“My alarmist statements have resulted in billions of dollars in funding for research,” Mr. Piot said. “I’m making sure scientists get paid. What could be more scientific than that?”

UN: Millions Not Suffering AIDS Now Doomed to Drown (Scrappleface)

Related:

22 November 2007

Can I get that in writing?

It is Thanksgiving Day, the one day of the year when you’re expected to be grateful.

But according to an army of psychologists, writers and talk show hosts like Oprah, giving thanks only today is a lost opportunity. You should be grateful all the time, they say, and one of the best ways is in writing — by keeping a “gratitude journal.”

Television programs, books, radio shows and Web sites point to research that shows that keeping a list of things you’re thankful for can make you happier.
Let Us Give Thanks. In Writing. (New York Times, 22 November 2007)

This really works. Don't discount it automatically because it sounds like pop-psychology feelgood crap; remember, even a blind hog finds a few acorns now and then.

Happy Thanksgiving to all

In Chicago for the holidays, enjoying a visit with Carrie's family. Blogging will be light until we're all out of our tryptophan and football comas.

20 November 2007

The best comedic concepts are often the simplest

http://menwholooklikeoldlesbians.blogspot.com/

Trust an economist to notice the unintended consequences

Tyler Cowen of George Mason University (for those of you keeping score at home, a libertarian-conservative economist teaching at a conservative school), writing in the Washington Post:
...Iraq hawks argued that, in a post-9/11 world, we needed to take out rogue regimes lest they give nuclear or biological weapons to al-Qaeda-linked terrorist groups. But each time the United States tries to do so and fails to restore order, it incurs a high -- albeit unseen -- opportunity cost in the future. Falling short makes it harder to take out, threaten or pressure a dangerous regime next time around.

Foreign governments, of course, drew the obvious lesson from our debacle -- and from our choice of target. The United States invaded hapless Iraq, not nuclear-armed North Korea. To the real rogues, the fall of Baghdad was proof positive that it's more important than ever to acquire nuclear weapons -- and if the last superpower is bogged down in Iraq while its foes slink toward getting the bomb, so much the better. Iran, among others, has taken this lesson to heart. The ironic legacy of the war to end all proliferation will be more proliferation.

The bottom line is clear, Mr. President: The more you worried about the unchecked spread of doomsday weapons, the stronger you thought the case was for war in the first place. But precisely because you had a point about the need to stop nuclear proliferation, you must now realize that the costs of a failed war are far higher than you've acknowledged.

Ironically, it's probably the doves who should lower their mental estimate of the war's long-haul cost: By fighting a botched war today, the United States has lowered the chance that it will fight another preventive war in the near future. The American public simply does not have the stomach for fighting a costly, potentially futile war every few years...

What Does Iraq Cost? Even More Than You Think (Washington Post, November 18, 2007)

Related: Marginal Revolution (group blog where Dr. Cowen can often be found)

18 November 2007

Very few good lairs left these days

Some wonderful coverage in the blogosphere about Bannerman's Island, an honest-to-god castle (with moats and towers and everything) built on an island in the Hudson River by a 19th century arms merchant.

Man, you just don't see lairs getting built like that any more. Used to be, the first thing a rich guy did after making a pile of cash was succumb to Turrets Syndrome (sorry) and build himself a castle.

If I ever achieve my goal of becoming a wildly powerful and fabulously rich mad genius, I am *so* building me a lair, unless there are some pre-existing lairs on the market with nice features.

I wonder if I could put in a bid on this joint?

Life is good

Random notes from a ridiculously productive but very pleasant weekend:
  • Got the Christmas shopping done. As in, completely. Carrie and I feel very smug about that, thanks.

  • Got a few hours of work put in for the office. Mostly just organizing what has to be accomplished in the next three weeks... I have become a big booster of outlines, lists, and flowcharts, which help me get myself (and others) organized way more than any project management software I've ever used.

  • Took some leftover brisket and a sack of pinto beans and some Pomi tomatoes and so forth and cooked up a big pot of chili, to be portioned out and frozen. Love the thriftiness of cooking with leftovers, but what we really love is the quick, effortless home-cooked midweek meal that just needs thawing and heating.

  • Restaurant notes: Carrie and I had the six-course tasting menu at Fleur de Sel last night, with wine pairings, including (with the cheese course) an aggressively spicy Gew├╝rztraminer that, happily, I will *not* have to go to the ends of the earth to track down... the very fine and friendly Moore Bros. Wine Shop near our neighborhood knows all.

    And tonight, I'm meeting some old friends from the dotcom days for dinner at a favorite tapas place. Unlike the old days, there won't be an expense account to cover our bill... but even if we are paying for meals ourselves these days, we are also older and wiser... much.

    I hope.

  • Finally, it's time to put an old workhorse out to pasture... our Compaq PC, which has done yeoman's service as our main home machine for four years now, has been boot-and-nuked and reinstalled with Ubuntu Linux.

    It is soon to find a good home somewhere as a perfectly serviceable Internet machine.

    And later this morning, I'm off to pick up one of these to replace it, adhering to my earlier pledge to eschew all things Vista and replace all the home PCs with Macs as they aged out of usefulness.

17 November 2007

Hallelujah, here she comes

By day, Jennifer Donovan works as an astronomer, listening for the faintest whispers from atoms in deep outer space, the tracings of movement in galaxies millions of light-years from Earth.

But it is nighttime.

And in an abandoned cigar factory on a deserted street in Astoria, Queens, Jennifer Donovan, the astronomer, has become Luna Impact, roller derby chick.

She hurtles down the floor, a blur of pursuit behind Hyper Lynx, a skater who has twice blocked her so hard that she flew out of bounds.

Now, Luna Impact — 125 muscular pounds packed into the lithe frame of Ms. Donovan — has a ferocious derby face on. As she passes Hyper, she drops into a crouch and shifts lanes directly in front of her. Then she abruptly uncoils, standing up and bashing into Hyper’s helmet.

When Their Alter Egos Come Out To Play (New York Times, 17 November 2007

Be very sure to read the entire article, if only for the noms de skate of the other roller derby athletes, which include Surly Temple, Beatrix Slaughter, and Auntie Christ.

Related: Gotham Girls Roller Derby

Also related:

I seen a girl on a one way corridor
stealing down a wrong way street
for all the world like an urban toreador
she had wheels on... on her feet
well the cars do the usual dances
same old cruise and the kerbside crawl
but the rollergirl she's taking chances
they just love to see her take them all

-- Skateaway, Mark Knopfler, from Dire Straits' Making Movies

14 November 2007

Valour-IT: Preliminary Totals

The Valour-IT fall fundraiser is over. Thanks to all who contributed.

How did we do?
This hasn't been the easiest fundraiser Valour-IT has had, but the preliminary numbers are very encouraging.

We're still awaiting check totals, but here is what we have so far.... As of midnight [November 13] Pacific Time, these were the standings...

Army: $53,023.00*
Marines: $39,673.00
Air Force: $25,638.34
Navy/CG: $20,081.75

Adding in the $29,954.82 in non-team donations--processed through Valour-IT's regular donation page--swells the preliminary total to $168,370.91!!

As the totals lagged this year, I scaled back my hopes to at least break $100,000. But it sounds like I was too low by half--last year we raised nearly $30,000 dollars in donations by check, so with similar results this year we can hope to break $200,000.
Valour-IT Blog: Preliminary Totals and Team Standings

12 November 2007

Discovering the European within

Your Inner European is Dutch!

Open minded and tolerant.
You're up for just about anything.

Hat tip: Rachel

A manifesto for striking Hollywood screenwriters

OUR BELIEFS: We are artists. We may not dress all cool like artists, or get chicks like artists, and none of us are starving, quite obviously, but Hollywood screenwriters are certainly artists, perhaps even artistes, and we suffer just the same. Not in a showy, oh-I-live-in-a-tenement and-turn-tricks-to-buy-paint and have-this-special-tuberculosis-only-artists-get kind of way. We suffer as we slave over our screenplays alone, staring into blank laptops, often blinded by pool glare. And we smoke real cigarettes.

[...]

We are not cogs in some machine. While many of today’s blockbusters are written by that machine, we are not cogs in it, despite having originally written all the dialogue and characters and plot that this machine endlessly recombines and maximizes. When a bitter cop with a shattered family and a monkey on his back flees a narco-terrorist’s fireball while cracking that he’s getting too old for this, some writer wrote some parts of that, some time back.

Shouts and Murmurs: "Why We Strike" (Larry Doyle, The New Yorker)

11 November 2007

Valour-IT: One more day

As I sit down to write, it's the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month here in the Eastern Standard time zone... the 89th anniversary of the armistice signed between the Allies and Germany in 1918, effectively ending World War I.

"Armistice Day," of course, became "Veteran's Day" (which we'll observe officially tomorrow) after World War II.

And the Valour-IT fundraising drive is being extended just one more day - until midnight on Monday, November 12.

For whatever reasons - and I think there are many, including concern about the economy - the fundraiser for Valour IT this year is falling far short of its goals.

If you've given this year, please allow me to express my appreciation and thanks, on behalf of the wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who will receive laptops fitted with adaptive gear.

If you haven't given this year - for whatever reason - and it is within your ability to do so, would you please consider the most generous gift you can afford, and click "Make a Donation" in the upper right-hand corner of this blog?

Thanks.

10 November 2007

Dealing with the undead

Q: What is Zombie Squad?

A: Zombie Squad is [a] disaster preparation community.

We focus our efforts towards promoting the importance of emergency preparation awareness and working with local communities around the globe to teach them what is needed to survive whatever crisis may come along like natural disasters or man made disasters.

Our mission is to make sure you are prepared for any crisis situation that might come along in your daily life which may include your home being invaded by the undead menace.

Zombie Squad also supports other local and international disaster relief organizations/charities. Check out our events page for the latest charity event we have coming up.

Q: Do you really think Zombies are real or is this some sort of zombie movie fan site?

A: Zombie Squad realizes that it is quite possible for someone to live their entire lives without encountering the undead nuisance. However, we hold fast to the belief that if you are prepared for a scenario where the walking corpses of your family and neighbors are trying to eat you alive, you will be prepared for almost anything.
ZombieSquad

Thought for the day

"What are the facts? Again and again and again - what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what 'the stars foretell,' avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable 'verdict of history' - what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your only clue. Get the facts!"

Robert A. Heinlein, The Notebooks of Lazarus Long

09 November 2007

Save The Deli

Save the Deli is a space dedicated to the preservation of the Jewish delicatessen, a hallowed temple of salted and cured meats. The past half century has seen the deli’s numbers decline greatly, in New York, across the USA, in Canada, and Europe. Those that remain are endangered and in need of our support. Though the challenge is arduous, and the deli’s foes are many, we will persevere.

Huckabee emerging?

You know, a friend of mine predicted this very thing (in conversation, not a blog post) quite a few months ago and I absolutely didn't buy it:
With less than two months until Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses, there are signs that Mr. Huckabee, a former Baptist pastor for whom Bible verses flow easily off the tongue, is charming, quipping and sermonizing his way from a long shot ensconced in the second tier of the Republican presidential sweepstakes to a possible contender...
From Back of G.O.P. Pack, Huckabee Is Stirring

Lies: conceptually cleaner than truth

The November 10 issue of the British magazine New Scientist calls attention to the prevarications of anti-tobacco activists pushing ever-more-stringent smoking bans. A report and editorial highlight maverick anti-smoking activist Michael Siegel's debunking of claims that brief exposure to secondhand smoke has potentially deadly effects on the cardiovascular system. "It is certainly not correct to claim that a single 30-minute exposure to secondhand smoke causes hardening of the arteries, heart disease, heart attacks, or strokes," Siegel tells New Scientist. "The anti-smoking movement has gone overboard." The response from the prevaricators is telling:

"When you take the science and put it in the public domain you can't include all the caveats," says Stanton Glantz, a tobacco researcher at the University of California in San Francisco. "The messages have to be simplified so people can understand them."

Glantz is right, of course. If anti-smoking groups said regular exposure to secondhand smoke, continued for decades, might slightly increase your risk of heart disease (assuming that the weak associations found in epidemiological studies signify a causal relationship), that would be hard to understand. When they say the slightest whiff of secondhand smoke could kill you, that's easy to understand. The only problem is that it's not true.

The Big, Fat Line Between Simplification and Lying (Reason's Hit and Run Blog)

08 November 2007

White Trash update

The market has its ups and downs, but White Trash just keeps on gittin'-r-done.

Since its inception in March 2007, the White Trash Portfolio is up 11.1%.

To refresh your memory, last spring we set up a model portfolio of the following stocks, and have been tracking its performance against major indexes on a periodic basis:
  • BFB - Brown-Forman Corp. Cl B
  • BUD - Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc.
  • CHB - Champion Enterprises Inc.
  • F - Ford Motor Co.
  • GM - General Motors Corp.
  • IGT - International Game Technology
  • KO - Coca-Cola Co.
  • KFT - Kraft Foods (not part of original portfolio; spun off by Altria, but it clearly still belongs)
  • MCD - McDonald's Corp.
  • MO - Altria Group Inc.
  • WMT - Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Over the same time period, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) tracking the major indexes performed as follows:
  • DIA, which tracks the Dow Jones Industrial Average, is up 6.9%.
  • SPY, which tracks the S&P 500, is up 3.2%.
  • VTI, which tracks the performance of the broad US stock market as a whole, is also up 3.2%.
  • IYC, which tracks the Dow Jones Consumer Cyclical index, is down 6.5%.

Economic indicators

So, which are we going to hit first... $100 a barrel crude oil, or a $1.50 Euro?

Valour-IT: Gifts for donors

Beginning today, Soldiers' Angels is offering the following gift to donors who give more than $25 to Valour-IT through the team competition. Donors must use a team button to receive a coin.


This military-style challenge coin is available marked for each of the team service branches (Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine). Donors will automatically receive the coin appropriate to their team donation.

Valour-IT: Gifts for donors

07 November 2007

Response to a fundraising letter

Representative Tom Cole
Chairman, National Republican Congressional Committee
320 First Street SE
Washington, DC 20003

Representative Cole:

I recently received (and filled out) the “Ask America 2007 Nationwide Policy Survey,” and wished to amplify a few of the thoughts I expressed therein.

I’ve been a Republican all of my adult life. My parents were such true believers that they actually named me after Barry Goldwater. I’ve been politically active, donating money to, raising money for, and sometimes volunteering for Republican candidates at the local, state and Federal level.

I am a small-government conservative who is pro-business and pro-civil rights, the sort of person who used to form the backbone of the GOP.

And I don’t recognize what used to be my party any longer.

In 2006, after six years of relentless Bush administration incompetence, I had enough, and changed my party registration to “Independent.” (I certainly couldn’t bring myself to register as a Democrat, but just as clearly, I couldn’t remain a Republican.)

Six years of pervasive managerial ineptitude, calculated fiscal irresponsibility, egregious foreign policy ignorance, relentless demagoguery on unimportant issues, a blockheaded and idiotic denial of science that would do any Luddite proud, and a frightening and apparent disregard for civil rights at home and human rights abroad (as long as pandering excuses could be made under the imprimatur of “national security”)…

Enough.

As Alan Greenspan observed in his recent book, the Republican Party in recent years has traded principle for power, and as a result they now have—and deserve – neither.

So you might want to take me off your mailing list, as contacting me is just a waste of your money, and both your time and mine.

I’m not giving a dime, or lifting a finger, to help Republican candidates this year.


Sincerely,


Barry Campbell

06 November 2007

Taxi meter for meetings

Someone just did a damned fine job of implementing an idea I've been meaning to work on for years.

Meeting Miser, by PayScale, tracks how much a meeting is costing your company by the minute.

22 for trust, 20 on communication, but only 17 on availability and 10 on decor... not our kind of doctor, dear

Zagat Survey, the so-called "burgundy bible" for entertainment seekers, is venturing into controversial territory: doctor's offices.

The ratings guide has teamed up with Wellpoint, one of the nation's largest health insurers, to allow consumers to rank doctors on a 30-point scale, just as diners rate restaurants.

Instead of assessing food, decor, service and cost, the free online tool, which will launch in March and be available eventually to Wellpoint's 35 million subscribers, will let people review their doctor visits based on trust, communication, availability and office environment. It also will feature a comment section where they can swap opinions.
Zagat preps for ratings on doctors (Chicago Tribune)

05 November 2007

Do they make a size appropriate for conference rooms?

One afternoon in early September, an architect boarded his commuter train and became a cellphone vigilante. He sat down next to a 20-something woman who he said was “blabbing away” into her phone.

“She was using the word ‘like’ all the time. She sounded like a Valley Girl,” said the architect, Andrew, who declined to give his last name because what he did next was illegal.

Andrew reached into his shirt pocket and pushed a button on a black device the size of a cigarette pack. It sent out a powerful radio signal that cut off the chatterer’s cellphone transmission — and any others in a 30-foot radius.

“She kept talking into her phone for about 30 seconds before she realized there was no one listening on the other end,” he said. His reaction when he first discovered he could wield such power? “Oh, holy moly! Deliverance.”

As cellphone use has skyrocketed, making it hard to avoid hearing half a conversation in many public places, a small but growing band of rebels is turning to a blunt countermeasure: the cellphone jammer, a gadget that renders nearby mobile devices impotent.

Devices Enforce Silence of Cellphones, Illegally (New York Times, November 4, 2007)

04 November 2007

Bruce Schneier: The War on the Unexpected

We've opened up a new front on the war on terror. It's an attack on the unique, the unorthodox, the unexpected; it's a war on different. If you act different, you might find yourself investigated, questioned, and even arrested -- even if you did nothing wrong, and had no intention of doing anything wrong. The problem is a combination of citizen informants and a CYA attitude among police that results in a knee-jerk escalation of reported threats.

This isn't the way counterterrorism is supposed to work, but it's happening everywhere. It's a result of our relentless campaign to convince ordinary citizens that they're the front line of terrorism defense. "If you see something, say something" is how the ads read in the New York City subways. "If you suspect something, report it" urges another ad campaign in Manchester, UK. The Michigan State Police have a seven-minute video. Administration officials from then-attorney general John Ashcroft to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff to President Bush have asked us all to report any suspicious activity.

The problem is that ordinary citizens don't know what a real terrorist threat looks like. They can't tell the difference between a bomb and a tape dispenser, electronic name badge, CD player, bat detector, or a trash sculpture; or the difference between terrorist plotters and imams, musicians, or architects. All they know is that something makes them uneasy, usually based on fear, media hype, or just something being different.

Even worse: after someone reports a "terrorist threat," the whole system is biased towards escalation and CYA instead of a more realistic threat assessment.

Schneier on Security: The War on the Unexpected (1 November 2007)



Updated and bumped because Doc has responded (extensively) at They Rode On. Short version: "Schneier can kiss my sweet ass."

More detailed version here: Flag on the play: Schneier gets it all wrong (They Rode On)

The Department of Everything Else

As Ken Burns' fascinating documentary on World War II recently reminded us, nothing teaches like early failures in a long war. So as this global struggle against radical extremism unfolds, it's important to recognize progress where it occurs.

In my 2004 book, "The Pentagon's New Map," I argued that our military would inevitably split into a Leviathan-like combat force and a "system administrator" force optimized for everything else: postwar stabilization and reconstruction, nation-building, crisis response, and counter-insurgency.

The sysadmin's capabilities emerge today in response to America's lengthy postwar stints in Afghanistan and Iraq. A good example would be the new Army-Marine counter-insurgency manual that argues for less "kinetics" ( i.e., blowing stuff up) and more effort in economic development and political capacity building. A long slog? You bet. But that's how our military finally overcomes the Vietnam syndrome.

Thomas P.M. Barnett: How our military evolves in this long war

(To learn about the Department of Everything Else, keep reading.)

03 November 2007

Valour-IT: Time to step it up

I call your attention once again to the fundraising campaign for Valour-IT, a project that outfits wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines with voice-activated laptops.

Team Navy is currently in third place, but most importantly, all of the teams are far short of the individual $60,000 goals that were set after last year's success. (The fundraiser runs through next Sunday, and as with all fundraisers, most of the money comes in at the end.)

Enrevanche has several hundred regular readers (via RSS and direct visits) and a few thousand occasional droppers-by.

Perhaps you think that what you're able to give won't make a difference...

Well, if everyone who regularly reads enrevanche gave $5, we could buy at least a couple of new laptops for the troops all by ourselves.

If you don't like donating online, you can mail a check here:

Soldiers' Angels
Project Valour-IT Fund - NAVY/USCG TEAM
1792 E. Washington Blvd
Pasadena, Ca 91104

We thank you for your consideration and support.

Snapshot of a rapidly changing South

Friday newspaper circular for a Southern grocery store chain, third page:

"Celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights!"

It accompanies ads for a whole host of Indian foods (spices, condiments, frozen meals) that, suffice it to say, we never saw at the Winn Dixie or the Big Star back in the day.