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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Open Wide and Say "Ah..." 

The next time you visit the website of Microsoft Corp. to download some software, be prepared to let the world's biggest software company have a look inside your computer.

Bill Gates takes one more step on the road to becoming the next James Bond villain. The above quote is from the story Bill Gates Will Be Frisking You over at our friends at The Globe and Mail. Apparently receiving an update to the Windows operating system will now allow Microsoft to examine your computer for a legitimate copy of Windows... as well as what other software you're using and what data you're sending to peripherals such as your printer.

Linux, anyone?

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Monday, July 25, 2005

When We Were Safe 


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Saturday, July 23, 2005

The Saudi Bomb 

Amir Mir over at Asia Times Online has a concise yet in depth summation of Middle East Islamist footsies in regards to the proliferation and exchange of nuclear weapons information, technology and materials.

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Friday, July 22, 2005

Friday Joke 

Well, *I* think it's funny.

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Is a Tar Baby metaphor politically incorrect? 

Quite a bit is starting to stick to Bush. He's not Teflon Ronny, ya know. He only won re-election because the Democratic Party chose to run an admitted traitor who abandoned the people he served with in combat because it was popular with hippies to do so at the time; at the time of election the US had men and women in harm's way. I'd like to think of that as the deciding factor, rather than that the American people were satisfied with GWB's first four years.

Ah, but the second term, that's what we're in now. The crows are coming home to roost, and Bush's second term is starting to look a lot like Nixon's second term. GWB told a *lot* of lies to get to the boxed in inescapable no-win scenario he's led us into, and the Liberal Main Stream Media (those guys who took down Clinton for the GOP) is just starting to clue in that there just *might* be a story in all that.

The real story is that GWB and his administration are extremely competent and can do anything they want. Unfortunately what they want are a list of self contradictory and mutually exclusive goals, eg:

Of course that's just the PGW2 stuff that's been pissing me off. I'm also angered by the Bush Administration's goal of turning America into a corporate feudalist state with no middle class, just a plutocracy and a mass of cheap immigrant labor, be it from Latin America, the Middle East, South East Asia or even Europe 200 years ago.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Spaghetti on the Wall 

Absolutely none of it has stuck to Bush, but not for lack of trying. In the last election the American voters proved it wouldn't work, but they're still trying.

Amazing how many of these fake things people have floated in the last few years. They make quite a list when you line them all up like that.

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Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Logic of Suicide Terrorism 

Just ran across this article in American Conservative magazine. Here's the abstract:
Last month, Scott McConnell caught up with Associate Professor Robert Pape of the University of Chicago, whose book on suicide terrorism, Dying to Win, is beginning to receive wide notice. Pape has found that the most common American perceptions about who the terrorists are and what motivates them are off by a wide margin. In his office is the world’s largest database of information about suicide terrorists, rows and rows of manila folders containing articles and biographical snippets in dozens of languages compiled by Pape and teams of graduate students, a trove of data that has been sorted and analyzed and which underscores the great need for reappraising the Bush administration’s current strategy. Below are excerpts from a conversation with the man who knows more about suicide terrorists than any other American.
And here's the article, The Logic of Suicide Terrorism.

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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Summer Reading Book List 

I haven't had much time to either read or write of late, but I ran across a rather interesting list of recommended books on Jerry Pournelle's web site. Note that Dr. Pournelle has been described as somewhat to the political right of Ghengis Khan, so you're not likely to see any citations of Chomsky, Derrida, Sontag or Dworkin. Still, there are quite a few books here that I'm going to try to make time to read on my summer "vacation." Here are just a handful, I made a sub-list of those that most interested me, alphabetized them, so here are the "B's" with comments by JEP:
Banks, Robert B. Towing Icebergs, Falling Dominoes, and Other Adventures in Applied Mathematics (Princeton University Press). If you've ever wondered what use mathematics is, this book applies fairly simple calculus to a variety of interesting themes. Might it be practical to tow an iceberg from Antarctica to the Los Angeles harbor as a freshwater supply? And so forth. Not light reading, perhaps, but I found it a good change of pace.

Banning, Lance. The Sacred Fire of Liberty: James Madison and the Founding of the Federal Republic (Cornell University Press, ISBN 0-8014-3152-2). This is quite the best political biography of Madison you will ever see, and a wonderful analysis of Madison as both framer and one of the authors of The Federalist . There is today all too little attention paid to the relations between the national government and the states, and more 's the pity.

Barzun, Jacques. From Dawn to Decadence, Harper Collins. If you don't read another book this year read this. It will take you a month or so. It's worth the time. Given the rather spotty — I am tempted to say miserable — state of our school system we are in danger of losing the continuity of western civilization. This book, by itself, can help change that: It goes through the history of ideas and puts them in context. It's highly readable as well as thought provoking, and I can literally say I wish every U.S. citizen would read this book.

Bobbit, Philip. The Shield of Achilles (Knopf). This is a highly readable treatise on military history and the modern industrial state, and Bobbit does a very good job of showing some important but often overlooked relationships between military technology and forms of government. This book, along with the previously recommended intellectual history From Dawn to Decadence by Jacques Barzun, are pretty good midlevel guides to understanding the modern age. I am often asked to recommend some books for general education; my advice is to start with Fletcher Pratt's The Battles That Changed History, which is a lot more than the title suggests; then read Bobbit and Barzun. Barzun alone is one of the best bibliographic resources you'll ever find. No set of three books will comprise anything like an education in Western history, of course; but those three do a pretty darned good job of showing what there is to learn.

Boot, Max. The Savage Wars of Peace (BASIC Books). This is a history of American involvement in "small wars" as the Marines like to term them; the number of such operations may be a surprise to those educated in today's schools. Boot has given us a good history of these wars, and drawn some of the lessons we ought to have learned from them. It looks likely that the United States may find itself involved in more than one "peacekeeping operation": Boot's title indicates just how bloody some of those small wars can be. It's good to be prepared for what it will take to suppress a series of international nuisances.

Bowden, Mark. Black Hawk Down is a well told story of a shameful incident in which US troops were sent on the wrong mission with the wrong intelligence by political leaders with the wrong idea and politicians who denied them the right equipment for the missions they were given. It's a compelling story of heroism and betrayal. Bowden is a lot kinder to the President and Secretary of Defense than I would be.

Bradley, Ian and Ronald Meek. Matrices and Society: Matrix Algebra and Its Applications in the Social Sciences (Princeton University Press, 1987). Yes, I know I've recommended it before; but it's worth reading again, and I just did.
Others from my shortlist of his shortlist include:

UPDATE 18 July 2005: The Edge has published their own summer reading list.

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Friday, July 08, 2005

London 

I'm still on sabbatical while I get my new digs in order. I've got a few (many, actually) thoughts about what happened in London, yesterday, but Wretchard sums it up quite nicely:
The Al Qaeda have characterized the attack on London as 'punishment' for Britain's temerity to resist the inevitability of Islam. It is the kind of punishment these self-ordained masters of the universe are accustomed to meting out against harem women and insolent slaves. A few administered licks, and no doubt the cowardly kuffar will crawl back to his place. The tragedy is that Al Qaeda's perception is perfectly correct when applied to the Left, for whom no position is too supine, no degradation too shameful to endure; but incorrect for the vast majority of humans, in whom the instinct for self-preservation has not yet been extinguished. It will result in history's greatest case of mistaken identity; the mismatch that should never have happened. The enemy is even now dying at our feet, where we should kick him and kick him again.

And one more time for luck.

I spoke to an old friend last night...actually a guy a little older than me who I sort of idolized as a kid. He was career military and just recently got out to work for (I believe) some sort of defense contractor. He was in during the first Gulf War and up until this year. He said we're killing those scum by the thousands in the desert over there, many of them behind the scenes where the ninny newsrats don't dare go to cover it. I hope to God he's right about that.

Faster, please.

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