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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another









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8/21/2004

the Long Goodbye

al-Sadr is not going without dragging his heels.
Loyalists of Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada Sadr remained in control of the gold-domed Imam Ali shrine on Saturday after failing to reach an agreement with representatives of Iraq's most senior Shiite leader on how to hand over the holy site.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A22296-2004Aug21.html
While I think it was a grave strategic error to allow al-Sadr to surrender on terms, if the americans and Iraqis are not prepared to enforce those terms then they may as well go home. Set deadlines and, if they are not met, go in and arrest the chubby little cleric.

8/20/2004

Good News, I think

The gradual withdrawal of the militias from the shrine at Najef without a full on assault is, I think, good news. While I am happy to see that the poor buggers in the milita did not get even more slaughtered, I am a bit concerned that al-Sadr is, at time of writing, not in custody. The Iraqi government need a win here - not a draw. So does Bush.

8/19/2004

Oh that Niagara Falls

Daejin at Suburban Peril has been on vacation...
Niagara Falls, I suspect, is the teen employment capital of the world and, by extension, must be the teen suicide capital of North America. Every themed restaurant, cheesy hotel, souvenir stand, funhouse, arcade must employ countless disenfranchised teens that everyday must despair for humankind. Endless droves of wide-eyed, placid, beaming tourists, with their digital cameras belt clipped to their khaki, pleated shorts and tucked in T-shirt with a silk screened "Niagara Falls Daredevil" image clutching a tourist map in one hand and coupons from CAA in the other. Proudly leaning in to tell you he's thinking bout bringing the family out to MarineLand tomorrow like he's shepherded them across the barren plains to the promise of the open West while arguing for a discount at the Dinosaur themed 18-hole mini-golf with an expired rebate clipped from some dive restaurant placemat. I remember being a surly teen working in retail scoffing over the mundane existence everyone who came into the store must have led. That I instead would burn brightly and rail tirelessly against convention, carving out a spectacular life for myself. Naive yes, but in this tourist trap of a town the relentless parade of lowest common denominator must surely wear ones resolve till the inevitability of middle age seems impossible to escape.
suburban peril
I hear he's booked for next summer.

Spinning the Kerry Lie

Kerry has come out on the Swift Boat Veterans. Not by telling the truth about his non-Christmas in Cambodia. He can't do that because he has been telling that lie on the record for years. No, the vanity candidate is denouncing the funding sources of the Swifties. Major media is still missing the point but, buried on the jump in this USA Today story is a bit of realism from a Democrat,
Democratic strategist Anita Dunn, a top aide to Bill Bradley in his 2000 primary campaign, says the situation had reached critical mass. "That group is continuing to raise more money and isn't going away," she says. "At some point people want the candidate to go out there and say 'this isn't true.' "
usa today
Which is exactly what Kerry cannot do so he is taking a run at slagging the messengers. Won't work. And it makes Kerry look less like a "hero" and more like the huckster he is.

Showtime

Sadr's latest rebellion has made him the most visible face of resistance to the U.S. presence in Iraq. He reverted to his trademark defiance after two days in which he appeared willing to disarm his fighters and end the standoff.

Asked about government demands, Sheikh Ahmed al-Sheibani, a senior Sadr aide and Mehdi Army commander, told reporters earlier in Najaf: "It is very clear that we reject them."

The rebellion has badly dented Allawi's authority, killed hundreds and rattled world oil markets. Oil prices hit a new record of $48.75 for a barrel of U.S. light crude Thursday.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the cleric had to meet Baghdad's demands: "The Iraqi government has made it very clear that he cannot have a separate law for himself."

But any storming of the Imam Ali mosque, which marks the tomb of Imam Ali bin Abi Talib -- the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammad -- could provoke outrage among Iraq's majority Shi'ites, especially if any of the 2,000 U.S. marines encircling Najaf are involved.
reuters
Looks like al-Sadr has decided to go the martyr route. The sad fact is that he is going to take hundreds of young men with him.

The critical thing for the americans to do at this juncture is to get a clear direction from the iraqi government and then press, without stopping, the attack. Off and on is not working. all it does is give al-Sadr time to dig in and to bring more Shi'ite to the shrine.

8/17/2004

Browser Wars

Google – in either its search or its news mode – is fast becoming the “home page” for millions of web users. However, Google does not actually control the browser which brings the user to the page.

With the floatation of the Google IPO and the experience Google has gained owning Blogger and inventing G-mail, Google has the option of entering the browser market either by building a better browser or cutting a deal with Mozilla the open source foundation which took over the Netscape/AOL browser and is fast becoming the browser of choice for the computer literate.

A Google browser, perhaps a flavour of the delightful Firefox, could be cross promoted with Blogger/Gmail and the Google search engine. That power of cross promotion, which is not quite a match for the MS monopoly, could put a Google endorsed browser into contention to begin to pick up significant market share. It wouldn’t hurt that Firefox is standards compliant and about half again as fast as the latest flavour of IE.

[A little later I will post a longer version of this at Long Posts].

Who's the sceptic?

Tim Lambert at Deltoid thinks the science Singer, Michaels and Douglass as well as McKitrick write about at TechCentralStation and which I cite below is completely bogus. And he has a long and interesting post up at Deltoid to "prove it".

The notion of cherry picking the data will cut both ways I suspect. The climate record since the end of the last ice age has very significant fluctuations in temperature most of which occured long before enough fossil fuels were being burnt to significantly alter CO2 levels.

The IPCC report upon which a great deal of the Kyoto concern is based is a scientific report. As such its conclusions and evidence need to be critically examined and, where possible, tested. The issues MS&D raise should be examined.

The difficulty which many laypeople have with the IPCC science and the recommendations which flow from it is that the science tends to be of the "there most definately is a correlation between greenhouse emissions and temperatures. You just have to look at the graphs of both over the last 100 years." variety where correlation is confused with causation.

I am reminded of the example in which the wages of the clergy in Nova Scotia showed a .99 correlation with the price of rum FOB Freeport.

There is some evidence which will link "greenhouse gases" to temperature rise. However, as commentor Sonja Christiansen points out. "selection according to preferred outcome remains possible". The proper role of the sceptic is to question the selection of both sides in the debate.

New Traffic

One quick effect of the Blogger Bar is new traffic. Lots of people coming from unknown blogs via the "next blog" button...Welcome!

8/16/2004

Music sharing

Over at LongPosts I have put up one of a number of articles which I wrote when the Federal Court of Canada effectively legalized music file sharing in Canada.

Blogger Bar

Regular readers will note that there now appears a groovy grey tool bar above my blog. This replaces ads which used to be on some blogs - but not this one because I somehow edited the code out - and has a site search function. All of which is lovely but Goggle/Blogger didn't bother to tell me they were making the change. Not smart. In fact, for sheer arrogance it puts Google/Blogger in Microsoft territory.

Curious

After four years of one of the most rigorous peer reviews ever, Canadian Ross McKitrick and another of us (Michaels) published a paper searching for "economic" signals in the temperature record. McKitrick, an economist, was initially piqued by what several climatologists had noted as a curiosity in both the U.N. and satellite records: statistically speaking, the greater the GDP of a nation, the more it warms. The research showed that somewhere around one-half of the warming in the U.N. surface record was explained by economic factors, which can be changes in land use, quality of instrumentation, or upkeep of records. This worldwide study added fuel to a fire started a year earlier by the University of Maryland's Eugenia Kalnay, who calculated a similar 50 percent bias due to economic factors in the U.S. records.
techcentralstation

David Warren's Hero of the Week

My hero for the week: Jan Peter Balkenende, the Dutch prime minister, who is reversing his country's 30-year experiment in "multiculturalism", after a parliamentary report concluded that it is an unambiguous disaster, responsible for institutional collapse, ethnic ghettoes, terrorism, hatred, and violence. He is using the current Dutch presidency of the European Union to spread the word that free Europe is threatened not by Americanization, but by Islamicization. Now, this is news: a politician who is not a plaything of the zeitgeist.
david warren

8/15/2004

Left veers right: Nick Cohen gets the story

he obvious conclusion to draw at the moment is that we are living in a rerun of the 1930s, and the liberal left is once again sucking up to tyranny. It is easy to think that way. Look at how the democratic left in Britain proved its futility and played into Tony Blair's hands when it allowed the Marxist-Leninist Socialist Workers Party to lead the anti-war movement. Look at the Independent, which has abandoned its founding principle of separating news from comment, so its front pages can imitate the manners of the Mail and scream at readers that the troubles of the world are the fault of democratic governments.

Yet the idea that history is repeating itself fails to take account of the weirdness of the times. If the fact that the anti-war movement was as much under the control of the religious fundamentalists of the Muslim Association of Britain as the political totalitarians of the SWP doesn't convince you, look again at the three examples I gave. They are all symptoms of a left that has swerved to the right. Saddam Hussein may have slavishly followed Stalin's methods of dealing with his opponents, but his Ba'ath Party was inspired by Nazi Germany and its programme of exterminating impure ethnic minorities was recognisably fascist. If al-Qaradawi had been a white French or German politician, Livingstone and his kind would have denounced him as a neo-fascist and picketed his hotel. Laughland is scarcely a Nazi. He is what he says he is, a Tory on the Tebbit wing - which flaps on the far right of the party. His foreign policy suggestions are none the less accepted by liberals without protest.
new statesman via http://www.nationalreview.com/thecorner/corner.asp
Under cover of multi cult and moral relativism, the democratic left has gradually transformed itself into an anti-semitic, anti-American movement which has lost all sense of having its own program. Now it is simply reactionary. Exactly like the old buffers who used to populate the Tory party promising a better yesterday tomorrow.

Covering for Kerry

While it will disappoint the readers' rep at the KC Star I only have a single source for this bit of sensationalism,

According to a Kerry campaign source, senior campaign advisers tasked two Washington-based campaign staffers to vet the recently published Unfit for Command.

"The purpose was to compare what that book had with what we had on file from Senator Kerry," says the campaign source, who said that the research project developed more than 75 instances where Kerry's recollections, previous remarks, or writings conflicted with the book's reporting.

"We took some of the most glaring examples, like the Christmas in Cambodia story, and presented them to senior staff, and we assume that those things were put in front of Senator Kerry," says the source. "We haven't heard a word about it. All we were told is that it was being taken care of."

The campaign source said that the book was not considered a "serious" problem for the campaign, because, "the media wouldn't have the nerve to come at us with this kind of stuff," says the source. "The senior staff believes the media is committed to seeing us win this thing, and that the convention inoculated us from these kinds of stories. The senior guys really think we don't have a problem here."
the american spectator
Guess they didn't count on blogs....

Bush Hatred revealed

As the awful possiblity that Kerry is a big time liar and vanity candidate in Mark Steyn's memorable description, the Left's heads are about to explode. How can this be happening? Bush bad, anybody but Bush better. Victor Davis Hanson takes a run at the roots of Bush hatred among the chattering classes:
Critics accuse Mr. Bush of Manichaeism — of tough, black-and-white talk about good and evil. They are right. He certainly sounds different from the usual suburban moralist, especially in an age of irony, skepticism, and cynicism. Our era is dominated by pundits, professors, and journalists to whom hip nuance is everything. The Time magazine style of reporting starts off with Theme A, then reverses course half-way through with counterargument B, only to conclude with Theme A lite.
victor davis hanson
His description of the balanced journalism of Time and much of the mainstream American media catches why it is taking that media a few weeks to digest the fact Kerry is a serial liar who has been trading on Viet Nam credentials he never even earned.

Holed below the waterline

Here the Kansas City Star's readers representative's explaination of why it took the Kansas City Start until Saturday to write a story about Kerry's Swift Boat lies,
On Friday, a Google News search turned up dozens of references to the Kerry stories. Many of them were on fringe news and personal Internet pages, sites that The Star and other mainstream media don't recognize as credible by themselves. Such news must be verified, preferably with two independent sources. That doesn't always happen on Internet sites, talk radio and cable TV news shows — even though such electronic media often are far ahead of other traditional news media in reporting controversy.

Sometimes the early reports do get it right. When that happens, traditional news media look like slowpokes. As with other celebrity and political news stories, electronic media frequently move faster than print news does. That's because they don't always have the system of checks and balances newspapers require.
kansas city star via truth laid bear
What is interesting about this is that the poor dear has no clue. Two independent sources: go to the Swift boat veterans web site, there are rather more than 2.

I am no friend of sensationalism; but there is no question that traditional media is being scooped regularily by the bologosphere's capacity to read, check and publish a story in a matter of minutes. Sure there are lots of mistakes; but the larger blogs are self correcting as their commentors weigh in.

Spam Techniques Explained

Great article in the Telegraph in which genetics prof Steve Jones explains some spam strategies,
The latest trick turns men (but not computers) into beasts; it is crude but effective and the smartest statistical package can as yet do nothing about it. It changes the typeface of part of the message to white to match the screen's background.

You - the viewer - see, like a randy bee, only the joyous news: "Instant orgasm guaranteed!" while the filter in its plodding way reads the digital code all the way through: Instant (long section of the Book of Isaiah), orgasm (a great deal of Shakespeare) guaranteed. Its censor nods gravely, and the message lands in your in-box.
telegraph
I'd wondered about that.

Good Fun

Shooting at looney politico turned amateur journalist Sheila Copps is always fun. But over at the excellent Jerry Aldni's new(?) blog Sean McCormick is less than, as John Kerry would say, nuanced in expressing his delight at Sheila's new gig,
I've already e-mailed to express my displeasure. Further to this, I've purchased my last Post until I hear that they've dropped that bellicose ditch pig, Sheila Copps. I'll be damned if I'll voluntarily contribute to her paycheque.
john aldni
And, by the way, why hasn't anyone connected the dots between the Post's ownership and said ditch pig...I mean it isn't as if Jonathan Kay was just waiting for Sheila's resume.

Tit for tat

Sean over at Polspy suggests that in the face of the American's flat out refusal to let live Canadian cattle back into the States after the BES alarm it might be time to play a bit of hardball,
1. Tie beef exports to something that both individual Americans and their leaders care about (hint: OIL and NATURAL GAS)...With the price of oil hovering around $45/barrel, there’s no better time to pull this particular lever with the Americans.

15% of the world’s proven recoverable oil reserves sit in Alberta alone. Alberta also supplies approximately 25% of the United States’ natural gas needs. On top of this, we have massive reserves of methane coal.

Believe me, if Alberta decides to get pissy about tying beef (and lumber) exports to energy exports, we’ll have the complete and undivided attention of our southern neighbours.
polspy
And, as the Marines are occupied elsewhere...But it is not at all a bad idea. Implementation would, however, ideally come at the federal level. Basically impose a, say, two dollar a barrel "Beef compensation" levy on every barrel of oil exported to nations which refuse to allow the import of Canadian beef. (And work a similar deal for the softwood lumber biz.)

Now, will it happen? Not a chance and not because of the Marines (who could spare a platoon or two to take on the restless Northerners if need be.) It will not happen because there are really big industries back East which are fully integrated into the American economy. Linkage is two way and bumping up the cost of gas would be met with , to take an example, really close inspections of every semi crossing into Detroit from Windsor. Want to see the Canadian autoparts industry howl. Try that for a week.

In fact American trade policy can be influenced by a Canadian government committed to maintaining good relations with our friend and neighbour. Playing the lapdog to the French in the run up to Iraq won us no friends in the States save Michael Moore.

It might be a dandy idea to actually go to the US and say, "Hey, we have the oil deposits which, at $45.00 a barrel make economic sense." We want to ensure North American energy independence. Let's talk. And, by the way, about the beef beef - we can't really do the deal until we can solve that issue." I expect the Americans would get the message.

Blog Gardening

I am doing a little cleaning up...removing dead links and the like. There may be formating weirdness....