Monday, February 28, 2005

Firefox Growth Slows

It appears from this article that the growth rate of the Firefox browser's adoption has slowed down somewhat. It is, however, still expected to reach a 10% market share by year-end 2005. This is still phenomenal for a freeware being marketed by a non-profit foundation.

Bin Laden is into Offshoring

Osama bin Laden apparently is attempting to outsource his efforts to strike the US directly. He has reputedly asked Zarqawi to consider making such strikes. At first blush, this seems to me to indicate how relatively powerless bin Laden has become in his isolation.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Helping Bloggers in Authoritarian Regimes

This seems like a good idea: Setting up a blog that cannot be traced to the posters. This can help the spread of blogging in authoritarian regimes where it is now proibited and tracked.

If you know of someone who can function as a CTO or lead engineer for such a project (and apparently the job pays!), please contact the following:

Jim Hake at

Hat tip: Emergent Chaos

More on the Prohibition on Using Social Security Numbers by non-governmental users

Looks like EmergentChaos, who was originally skeptical of my idea to forbid the use of SSNs as identifiers, may have come around. He posts today that:
[T]he right focus for reform is to ensure that the law Congress shall pass includes elements of California's 1386 (requiring disclosure of breaches), 116 (forbidding the use of SSNs as identifiers), and a new provision, forbidding the use of birthday, mother's maiden name, or social security number as an identifier or authenticator. The law should impose strict liability on anyone who does either of the latter two, or fails to disclose in a timely manner (emphasis supplied).
I am glad Adam has come around on this. In my estimation, this is the only way in which we have a chance to solve this looming crisis. Let's get a consortium of end users of financial data together and have them develop a secure and disposable identifier / authenticator for each person for whom financial data is required. The end users can tailor a system that meets their needs far better than the government can.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Loopholes So Big You Can Drive a Bus Through Them ... Even Without a License!

Michelle Malkin posts today about loopholes in the proposed Real ID Act. The bill, which is ostensibly designed to prohibit the issuance of drivers' licenses to illegal aliens, has so many loopholes that they oughtn't even have bothered. For instance, the bill would permit states to grant licenses to:
  • illegal aliens who have been granted a hearing for asylum,
  • illegal aliens who have applications pending for temporary protected status, and
  • illegal aliens who have applied for amnesty under the 245(i) program.
Granted, these exceptions will prevent issuance of a license to anyone who has not petitioned the Federal government for some sort of protected status, but I think we all know that once you're in, you're in. Nothing would stop illegals from petitioning for asylum, for example, getting a drivers' license and then dropping the asylum petition. They would then have 4 years' grace before needing to petition for asylum again. Conceivably, they would never have to have their asylum petition determined on the merits. The mere filing of the petition would be enough.

Citizenship in the United States comes with obligations (to vote, to pay taxes, etc...); legal alien status also has obligations. The illegals have, for too long, abused the system by taking advantage of the good this nation has to offer without fulfilling the obligations required of those who reside here legally. We should not sanction illegal status in any fashion whatsoever and certainly not provide tacit state approval via the issuance of a drivers' license, without the individual agreeing to take on the obligations of legal status, first.

Freedom's Beat Marches On

Now, even Egypt has joined the ranks of those who will be holding free elections (or at least let's hope).

The Freedom Scorecard thus far:
  1. Afghanistan
  2. Iraq
  3. Palestine
UPDATE: Powerline notes that several Egyptian opposition parties don't believe the Mubarak concessions have gone far enough. While this is an understandable reaction (and I am cynical, too), just as we saw in Eastern Europe in the late '80s and early '90s, its hard to get the genie back in the bottle once you have given the people hope. A fresh breeze is blowing throughout the Middle East and it's not the scirocco.

The Tsunami Revealed

Chilling photos of the tsunami's arrival on shore from a victm's camera...

Hat tip: Instapundit

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]

Friday, February 25, 2005

A Ban on the Use of Social Security Numbers for Non-governmental Purposes

A few days ago, I posted my thoughts on prohibiting the use of Social Security Numbers (aka Federal ID Numbers or FEINs) for any purpose but administration of the Social Security system and other Federal uses (military IDs, the IRS, etc...). Emergent Chaos tracked back,arguing that he would not go so far, especially since identity thieves would already be subject to liability under the Financial Modernization Act of 1999, also known as the “Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act” or GLB Act. This criticism, however, misses the point of my post: Imposing criminal and civil liability is well and good, but does nothing for those victimized by identity theft. One of the first matters I handled as an attorney involved my cousin, whose identity had been "stolen" and used to purchase goods and services all over New York City. As a result, she was unable to lease an apartment (due to the resulting bad credit history) and was forced to live with a co-worker from her new job for an extended period of time until her good credit was restored. In another incident, my father apparently had his identity "stolen" during a hospital stay. The enterprising users of his good credit purchased thousands of dollars of goods all over Southeast Michigan. As with my cousin, it took a long time to rehabilitate my Dad's credit.

My proposal, again, is to outlaw the use of FEINs for non-governmental uses and to create a system in which a identity theft victim can "dispose" of the blemished identity upon a showing that his / her credit has been damaged as a result of the theft. Obviously, there will have to be safeguards put in place to prevent the criminally-minded from shedding their identities to defraud bona fide creditors, but I think that this hurdle can be overcome.

The first part of my proposal (prohibition of non-governmental use of FEINs) has been adopted as a platform plank by the Republican Party of Minnesota. Ironically enough, this position has also been adopted by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG) , a Ralph Nader group with which I would rarely agree on anything. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has also signed on.

So far, my research has not yielded any serious proposals for an alternative to the FEIN for financial identification. However, you cannot outlaw the FEIN's use by the private sector without something to replace it.

I will dedicate a later post to how I see that being done.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

They Don't Get It, Do They?

Pope John Paul is apparently resting this evening following a tracheotomy to relieve complications from his bout with the flu. Reuters filed a story on the Pope's procedure, replete with the following idiotic quotation:
"'He's not really with it any more. We need someone who's a bit more in tune with the modern world, someone who's physically and mentally fit,' said Tina Koch, a 25-year-old German Catholic visiting Rome."
Applied to an aging rock star, the quote would make perfect sense; applied to this Pope, it makes absolutely no sense.

Say what you will about the policies of the Church under Pope John Paul II, he has been the model of consistency. The central theme to his Papacy has been the dignity of human life and its relationship to the Creator. There was no doubt about where the Pope stood in that regard in 1978 upon his ascension to the Throne of Peter and there is no doubt about it today. Thus, the statement that he is not "with it anymore" is simple gratuitousness on the part of people, Catholics and non-Catholics, who disagree with the Pope -- for if he is not with it now and in tune with the modern world, he never was.

As I mentioned in an earlier posting, for precisely the reason that the Pope is now frail and weak (in body, but not in spirit), it is quite unlikely that he will abdicate. He will certainly never abdicate in favor of someone who will give the secular humanists what they crave.

Good Advice for New Bloggers

Atrios over at Eschaton has some great advice for those of us newbie bloggers:

1) Don't send me an email saying "read my blog." I won't. If you want to get my interest, send me something interesting. If you have something interesting, it'll get noticed and linked. Have enough interesting things, people will start coming back on their own to look for it, and you'll have a larger regular readership.

2) What's interesting? Your opinion on stuff by itself isn't really interesting to anyone except your friends. If you're funny, or you write well, or you actually know something, or can make a good argument, or are good at unearthing interesting and relevant tidbits, that's interesting.

3) One things blogs do is act as news aggregators/filters and places for discussion. You may be an excellent news aggregator/filter, but that's a pretty crowded market. That's one place where being an early entrant helps. If you want to distinguish your blog, you need to have some additional interesting original content.

4) Don't create a spam list and send out every blog post to the list. We all get too much email. Send me something you think that I would be interested in. It's personal. I don't cover every issue under the sun. Nobody else does either.

5) Don't just focus on trying to get a link from me, or Kos, or Instapundit, or whatever. If you have something good, send it to blogs with somewhat less, but still decent traffic. They probably get less email than we do. s

6) Establishing a large regular readership takes a lot of time, no matter how brilliant and persistent you are. And, persistence is key. While some fairly popular bloggers post inconsistently, most people with a large regular readership post at least daily. People will click on your site more often if they think there's a good chance there will be something new to look at.
I think many of us get too focused sometimes on getting noticed by the "Big Boys (and Girls)" (and I am as guilty as the next person). Atrios' advice is very good, indeed.

Hat tip: Instapundit

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Pentagon Goes Wimpy

The Pentagon apparently continues to yield to the bullying of the left, following the Abu Ghraib incidents. So far, no one has proven that those incidents were anything more than out of control MPs. Yet, Army interrogators, charged with unearthing plots to kill Americans by Islamic radicals, are virtually handcuffed. Take the following:
"In a Jan. 12 memo to U.S. military commanders worldwide, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz wrote that the military should not perform 'routine detainee body cavity exams or searches' because this invasive procedure 'may conflict with the customs of some detainees.'"
I don't know about you, dear reader, but the violent death of innocent Americans definitely conflicts with MY customs.

There is going to be hell to pay if we ever fail to thwart an attack that we could have learned about using just good old interrogation techniques, far short of what is conventionally thought of as torture.

The Good Professor Hates SUVs...

So, Professor Bainbridge has revealed that he hates SUVs. That is, of course, his prerogative and I respect his opinion. I happen to like SUVs, both to drive and because the manufacture and sale of these vehicles funds a goodly portion of my paycheck.

What I find significant in Professor Bainbridge's post, however, is that nowhere do you find a call to outlaw SUVs or to otherwise regulate them out of existence. This is how the right differs from the left these days: a left wing post would recite the evil that are SUVs and call for an outright ban on their use. Professor Bainbridge, in contrast, merely notes his annoyance with the vehicles and leaves it at that. However, several thousand people ( visitors) will know what he is thinking on this subject and may actually spend some time thinking about it themselves as a result. What happens when Earth Liberation Fronters deface SUVs on dealership parking lots? Their sympathizers may cheer, but everyone else is disgusted.

You tell me who has furthered the cause more: spoiled children who vandalize vehicles or someone who posts a blog entry calmly laying out the facts as to why he dislikes SUVs?

The European Paradox

Smiley over at The Daily Demarche has some very interesting views on President Bush's European trip. Smiley concludes that, notwithstanding all the agitation and noise, Europeans really do crave the approval of the United States.

My take on this is that the relationship between Europe and the US is that of siblings. After all, no matter how you slice it, the United States is basically Europe transplanted. Our values and culture derive from the same source. We, though Americans through and through, still tend to hyphenate ourselves and most of the words preceding the hyphen are the adjectivial form of a European country: "English-American"; "Irish-American"; "French-American"; "Italian-American"; "Swedish-American", etc.... Don't think for a minute that the Europeans are not mindful of this.

The Europeans, from their crowded, old cities, look across the Atlantic at their cousins and probably, in their heart of hearts, say: "Had we but followed the dreams of our relatives, we, too, would be in that land of opportunity." However, as in the relations between true siblings, where one has been more fortunate, jealousy can rear its ugly head; so do the Europeans begrudge the United States. Not wishing to be caught at the well of envy, though, the Europeans have reacted by lashing out at the object of their resentment -- the United States -- and trying in some desperate way to demonstrate that they are still relevant. However, having demonstrated a distinct irrelevance by virtue of their Iraq War temper tantrums, the Europeans have found themselves even further marginalized from the world scene. This has left them with two choices: to veer further away from comity with the United States or to seek some sort of rapprochement with America.

Happily, it appears that the Europeans may have begun to choose the latter. I am not confident that it will stick, but it is interesting to watch how event have unfolded this week.

UPDATE: Chrenkoff quotes German Claus Christian Malzahn in Der Spiegel to similar effect.
In Mainz today, the stagnant Europeans came face to face with the dynamic Americans. We Europeans always want to have the world from yesterday, whereas the Americans strive for the world of tomorrow.

True enough.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Rhetoric of al Qaeda and the Responsibility of the Media

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross of The Counterterrorism Blog has a very interesting post on an apparent change in tactics by al Qaeda, typified by the recent message released by Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's deputy. Zawahiri's message echoes that of an earlier message released by him as well as the infamous pre-American election bin Laden video. Both men have taken to mixing their threats of apocalyptic violence against the United States and its allies with an olive branch-type approach to the effect of: "If you leave us alone, we will leave you alone". Mr. Gartenstein-Ross, however, correctly apprehends that the path of appeasement and strategic disengagement from the Muslim world would only hasten the appearance of an Islamic super caliphate that ultimately would be an even greater threat to the West and to the peoples subject to the caliphate.

al-Qaeda, unfortunately, is probably taking its rhetorical cues from Western media outlets, which may appear to the non-Western world to be the official organs of government, when, in fact, they are anything but. Thus, although as Mr. Gartenstein-Ross points out, there are those in the West who advocate dialogue with al-Qaeda, the vast majority would rather see the heads of that organization strung up from the nearest available light pole.

Oil Prices #3 (UP)

Latest story: Oil Surges Over $51 on Winter Chill

TREND: Prices UP Posted by Hello

(updated for better graph)


Occasionally I post using my Palm Tungsten C (using Hblogger by Normsoft). Until now, however, I was not able to use the T|C to read RSS and Atom feeds. That changed today when I was introduced to mobileRSS. Great product and free, too!

Hat tip:

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]

Privacy ... On Thin Ice

This story illustrates how easy it is for our closely guarded financial information to fall into the wrong hands, even through no fault of our own. ChoicePoint, a so-called data warehouser based in Georgia, somehow allowed criminals access to its database of personal information. Now it has had to notify 145,000 people, located in all 50 states, as to its snafu.

I don't know whether this was a contributing factor, but I am convinced that the use of Federal ID Numbers (aka Social Security Numbers) as a unique personal identifier is wrong for purposes other than use by the Social Security system and the IRS. It's wrong, in part, because you can't simply dispose of the FEIN and start over if it is hijacked. Why? Because your Social Security and Medicare benefits are tied to that number and the IRS uses it to track your tax obligations.

My proposal is this: Outlaw the use of FEINs for purposes other than that for which they were designed: Social Security, Medicare and the federal / state tax apparatus. Secondly, designate a private group of entities that need to track economic history (credit reporting agencies, banks, etc...) to be responsible to design and administer a National Credit ID program. One critical feature of this program would have to be the disposability of ID numbers in the event that the numbers fall into the wrong hands. This would allow persons to resuscitate their credit much more quickly in the event of a "hijacking".

Several corporations are moving somewhat in that direction (for example, by using only the last 4 digits of the FEIN for internal corporate purposes). We need to move all the way, however, before this really does become a national crisis.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin's got a roundup on this topic. However, none of the cited bloggers has picked up on my idea of using a disposable number for economic / financial identification. I think I'll work on this idea in future posts.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Carpe Bonum on HincheyGate

Our High Country Blogger's Alliance colleague, Carpe Bonum (a confessed Natalist), has hit for the perfect cycle trifecta storm! He has been cited by Instapundit, Wizbang and, now, CNN, all in 3 days! Way to go CB, a one man blogstorm!

Seriously, though, if you want to get the best roundup on Congressman Hinchey's ludicrous statements regarding Karl Rove and the forged TANG memos, check out Carpe Bonum's several postings on the subject.

Oil Prices #2 (UP)

Since the media seems intent on printing story after story on the "trend" in oil prices, I have decided to track the "trends". My first entrant is this story.

TREND: Prices UP

Military Recruiters Face the Ire of the Left

Michelle Malkin relays a NYT report on the violence faced by military recruiters here in the U.S.

While appalling in and of itself, it is further evidence of the inability to the Left to behave in a civilized manner. The postings of leftwing bloggers and commentators tends to be laced with profanity and ad hominem attacks (see this message board from the Democratic Underground). In addition, as the New York Times article indicates, the Left can't seem to be able to convey its ideas without using excrement (human or otherwise) and violence. And this is the party that claims to hold dear the non-violent principles of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Until the Leftwingers disown those in their midst who insist on acting like 3 years (and very badly behaved 3 year olds, at that), no one is going to take them seriously. And for the sake of this country, we need a viable second party. Right now, the Democrats are not it.


Sitemeter seems to be down this morning. Now how am I going to know who's checking this page?

Hopefully, it will be back soon and hasn't gone bust...

UPDATE: Sitemeter's back up (about 8:30 am)

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Israel to Release 500 Palestinian Prisoners

In a hopeful sign, Israel has agreed to release 500 or so Palestinian prisoners. Most had served at least 2/3 of their sentences and none had been found guilty of harming Israelis. This will be a good portent, however, only if the Palestinian Authority truly reciprocates. If not, all the Israelis have done is swelled the ranks of their opponents.

Given how things are going, I am prepared to hope for the best.

Iran Prepares. For What?

The Counterterrorism Blog notes Iranian preparations for hostilities with the United States. I am getting concerned here that events are starting to resemble the run up to World War I, where both sides prepared for war and eventually mobilized based on perceived pressure to do so.

There's no doubt we don't want the Iranian mullahs to ever have a nuke. While diplomacy will certainly have its place in convincing Iran to stand down, I am also, however, not advocating pursuing a predominantly diplomatic path as advocated by Mr. Gartenstein-Ross. Some way, somehow, we must convince the mullahs that it is in their personal best interest to stop the development of these weapons. If they do develop them, the genie is completely out of the bottle. Thus, meaningful saber rattling is completely appropriate so long as we are prepared to back it up. And that may mean some very unpleasant decisions for the US Government and for the American public -- funding and creation of additional Army divisions, for example. Another thought is the creation of a Top Gun-type school to apply the lessons of the Iraqi insurgency might also be in order (and probably already underway).

These promise to be interesting times ahead.

UPDATE: PowerPundit has much the same take.

The Top 100 Gadgets of All Time

Mobile PC Magazine has just come out with its list of the top 100 gadgets of all time. Its hard to argue with most of them, but I don't know if I agree with Number 1.

Hat tip: Gizmodo

Condi for Prez

Wow. This is really taking off!

From Instapundit

UPDATE: PowerPundit's sounding a note of caution. I agree with him.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

National Drivers License Bill

The Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal features a piece today critical of Rep. James Sensenbrenner's plan to require a nationally mandated form of driver's license. The WSJ correctly notes that, under the bill, persons who enter the U.S. legally will still be able to obtain these licenses. Why is that significant? Because ALL of the 9/11 hijackers entered the country legally.

This is another case of closing the barn door after the horse has been stolen. We are now subject to very intrusive searches of our persons and our luggage prior to boarding a plane. However, such a search on 9/11 would have availed us nothing because the items used to take over the planes were completely legal at that time. Now we watch as 80 year old grandmothers are patted down and individuals who fit the terrorist profile (and its not the Radical Elderly Norwegian Front we're worried about...) skate right past the checkers out of a ridiculous fear of racial profiling.

Let's focus on the right things, here, people.

Green Card Envy

When was the last time you saw an ad like this for any other country, hmmm?


If your answer was anything but "Never", then you are a liar! Posted by Hello!

The Noose Tightens Around Zarqawi...

According to Ireland OnLine (hey, you can't say I get my news from just a few sources!), authorities arrested a couple of Zarqawi aides on Saturday. Despite what the MSM would have you believe, the "insurgency" is not a bottomless well. Every arrest hurts them and key arrests like these probably do worse.

Patience, everyone: we will stamp this thing out.

Lebanon: Poised for Freedom?

Hezbollah, the Iranian backed terrorist group that holds significant power in Lebanon, has apparently told the Lebanese to cool their jets. This, as protests mount against Syria's potential complicity in the assassination of former Lebanese PM Hariri last week. Could it be that the Lebanese actually heard President Bush's Inaugural and State of the Union addresses and are taking them seriously? It sure seems that they may have. In return, the United States has upped the ante for the Syrians by recalling our Ambassador. It's way too early to say where this is headed, but the best end result would be a resumption of normalcy for the Lebanese, who have been proxies in the Sunni / Shiite and Arab / Israeli conflicts for the past 30 years and have labored under the overlordship of Syria for the past 15 years or so.

This could turn out to be the most significant decade for world freedom since the 1940s.

Microsoft is Seeking Anti-trust Pre-Clearance for Longhorn

According to Microsoft Watch, Microsoft met with the Department of Justice this week in an effort to get anti-trust pre-clearance for the upcoming release of the Longhorn OS. This seems like a sensible approach, similar to approaches taken with the IRS on certain tax issues. More fundamentally, however, I have always had some misgivings about the application of the anti-trust laws to a single product. Anti-trust laws certainly have their place in our regulatory matrix, but I have always viewed them as curbs on improper behavior (predatory pricing, tie-ins, etc...) not as restricting a single product, however dominant. If the prevailing view of anti-trust jurisprudence is that that it exists for the benefit of the consumer -- well, the consumer has spoken. Microsoft is not the only OS ever created (think UNIX, Apple (a UNIX variant), OS2, Linux, etc...); however it is the OS of choice for most of the world simply because it is the best all around (in terms of operability and available applications). A lot of people dislike this (many, quite passionately). However, it is what it is and largely because Microsoft did a better job. If, as we are seeing with Mozilla and FireFox in the browser arena, someone can come up with a better OS (for the average user not the techie types who have taken a liking to Linux, for example), then the world will beat a path to that person's door.

I'm Back!

I'm back on the job! I spent most of the last week away from home and was not able to post with my usual frequency. I'll try to do better!

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Peggy Noonan Gets Blogging

OK, so Peggy Noonan may not be fully onboard with President Bush's notion of liberty for the world, but she does
get blogging. I agree with her predictions, too. Blogging will change the face of journalism and it will become part of journalism.

Bravo, Peggy!

Crying Wolf

I remember certain frightening headlines from back in the early 1980s like "US Falling Behind Japan in Science Education". According to the articles accompanying these headlines, the US was headed for disaster because students had forsaken technical degrees. It was widely predicted that the US would fall behind Japan and the Soviet Union in technical competence. Well, we all know what happened to the Soviet Union (for those of you younger readers out there, the Soviet Union was a big bad communist confederation dominated by the Russians) and Japan has endured more than a decade of economic stagnation. The United States, on the other hand, has simply led the world in productivity increases, largely due to -- you guessed it -- its continued technical dominance, especially in areas like computing and telecommunications.

Jump ahead to 2005. Once again the doomsayers have resurfaced, claiming that the United States is in danger of losing its technical edge, this time due, in part, to the Patriot Act, which allegedly erects a barrier to talented foreign students. The proposed remedy: more government spending.

Word to the wise: the technology boom of the 1990s was not a result of a massive government spending program. It was the result of the private sector recognizing the limitless potential of a technology (ARPANet) that the Department of Defense had adapted only for limited purposes (wartime communications redundancy). Who brought this technology to the masses? American college students named Marc Andreesen and Eric Brina.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

What's Good for the Goose...???

Apparently AARP, the Teamsters and several members of Congress oppose retirement accounts within the Social Security program, as proposed by President Bush. Ironically, however, according to the Wall Street Journal, each of these groups actually participate in a market-based program almost identical to what they deride in President Bush's proposal.

Is this really surprising? I am surprised that the President's opponents have not condemned eating or sleeping, because President Bush engages in both activities. It REALLY has gotten that bad!

The Future?

CNET is displaying a photo on its site this evening (reproduced below) showing how inconspicuous a subcutaneous Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip can be. I certainly would not be able to tell that it's there.

This raises the specter of all sorts of privacy invasion that could occur if this technology is misused. Personally, I am not wild about someone tracking my every move.


Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Law Review Esoterica

Professor Bainbridge offers an opinion as to why law review articles tend to be so long: they have to be so that the students who actually run the law reviews (Yes: for you laypeople out there [and only lawyers and, sometimes, doctors have the audacity to routinely call all non-practitioners of their laypeople] students actually select the articles appearing in and edit law reviews without, in most cases, any faculty involvement) can understand them. Fifteen years have passed since I was a student-editor of a legal journal (one I am quite sure you have never heard of) and, from the vantage point of time, I now tend to agree with the good professor. We didn't have a clue what we were reading about. If not for the exhaustive (and I do mean exhaustive!) footnoting, we wouldn't have been able to tell if the writer was serious about his/her topic or whether the whole thing was an elaborate hoax. Really. Now, I'm being a little facetious here, but not much. How knowledgeable can you expect a generally 24 or 25 year old student to be? Now, to be fair, I am going to add that its hard to be knowledgeable in some of the esoteric topics that pass for legal scholarship these days, but it really was presumptuous on most of our parts to believe that we understood the premise of most of our submissions, let alone the nuances. Time does have a way of correcting this situation, providing additional knowledge and, more importantly, wisdom and maturity. Notwithstanding, I don't see this changing anytime soon inasmuch as it is woven into the fabric of the lawschool experience. However, I believe that there has been an increase in faculty-moderated publications and it may be that, over time, the more thoughtful articles will find their way to those outlets.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Microsoft Feels the Heat

I've opined in earlier postings that I generally like Microsoft and its products. One big exception though is Internet Explorer. Sure, I really liked it when it out-featured an anemic Netscape 4 or 5 years ago. Since then, though -- nothing. In the last year, Mozilla has jumped to the forefront, featureswise, with its FireFox browser (which I am using to prepare this post). Now comes word that Microsoft may relent and release new features (if not a full version increase) to IE before the release of Longhorn next year (???). See what I mean about competition being good for everyone?


Well, ol' gwhizkids is going to be blogging lite this week, as duty calls elsewhere. I'll have a laptop with me, but its going to be hit or miss.

On a positive note, co-alt-ctrl-del contributor, Trajan, is slated to begin his posting this week. Look for his postings beginning tomorrow evening and give him a big welcome!

Sunday, February 13, 2005

A Great Baseball Career Comes to an End

Barry Larkin, the Cincinnati Red's shortstop for the past 19 years, announced his retirement today. In this chaotic, free-agency driven market, it's unusual for a player to spend 5 years with a team let alone 19.

He was truly one of the Victors Valiant!

Gunmen at New York State Shopping Mall

Uh oh! No word yet on the identities of the gunmen.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin reports that this may have been a lone gunman at a Best Buy store and appears not to have been a terrorist incident. Stay tuned.

UPDATE 2: It turns out that it was a lone gunman. Still no idea of what the motive was. No one appears to have been killed. That's good news.

Attack of the Drones

With all due respect, Michelle Malkin's got the wrong title for her post this morning ("Easongate:The MSM Strikes Back"). Rather,the title should be a takeoff on another of the Star Wars series -- it should be Attack of the Drones. For that's exactly what this is: a reflexive effort on the part of the MSM to demonize the efforts made by bloggers to discover the TRUTH.

Ms. Malkin quotes Bertrand Pecquerie of the World Association of Newspapers, in pertinent part, as follows:
"[T]he defense of the US army honor seemed more important to some bloggers than the defense of reporters' work (and sometimes life)."
Hmmm. It seemed to me that it was the defense of TRUTH that the right hemi-blogosphere was after, not U.S. Army honor (which was, thankfully, a third party beneficiary of the blogosphere's efforts).

Malkin concludes with a quote from Columbia Journalism Review editor Steve Lovelady:
"The salivating morons who make up the lynch mob prevail."
No: TRUTH prevailed. Who among us doubts that we'd have all seen the infamous Davos videotape by now if it even remotely showed that Eason Jordan did not say what he was alleged to have said. Moreover, if there were any shred of truth in what Jordan was supposed to have said, wouldn't CNN have already made that the scandal of the century for the Bush Administration. Wouldn't that have made Abu Ghraib look like a cakewalk in comparison?

CNN still hasn't broken this "scoop." I wonder why?


EagleSpeak posts this morning on the dangers of cyberterror. I agree with the warning and would add to the list of the potentially affected industries the banking industry. Look at the havoc done by a few of the Denial of Service attacks (where hackers hijack thousands of unprotected PCs -- those not having up to date virus definitions, for instance -- called "zombies" and use them to launch repeated hits on a website, like Yahoo). These attacks, relatively simple to set up for a good Trojan Horse writer, can bring a site to its knees in minutes, as its servers are overloaded with the page requests flooding in on it. Just imagine if a very determined someone or someones (read: terrorists) decided to find a way to do this to "secure" systems. A serious attack like this could bring our economy to its knees in days.

My fear is that we've put too much of our infrastructure in the vulnerable zone, i.e., attached to the public internet rather than in a secure private network. I hope I am wrong.

Sage Advice for Democrats

Glenn Reynolds has a piece on today's Wall Street Journal OpinionJournal page about Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen's possible Presidential prospects. One of Glenn's statements amounted to an observation about and advice for presidential minded Democrats in general:
[Bredesen, during his gubernatorial campaign] also wasn't afraid to step away from scripts and onto what's usually regarded as enemy turf. One of the things that's struck me most is how well Gov. Bredesen does on conservative talk radio. He answers questions rather than ducking them or retreating into slogans and sound bites, and as a result the hosts (and listeners) respect him even when they disagree. That's an important skill: If you can imagine a Democratic presidential nominee who will hold his own on Rush Limbaugh's or Hugh Hewitt's show, you're imagining a Democrat who could win the general election.
Think how many times in the last campaign John Kerry made reference to a plan and then gave no details, or referred watchers to his website, or how often he referred to his Vietnam service rather than the issues of the 21st century, and I think you'll agree with Glenn.

I did.

Michael Barone on the Impact of the Blogosphere

Michael Barone has an interesting article in the current issue of U.S. News and World Report. Barone argues persuasively that the "right" (conservative leaning / libertarian) and "left" (liberal) hemi-blogospheres are not symetrical in their impact on behalf of their respective constituencies. Barone first notes the animating principles behind the left hemi-blogosphere:
The Democratic Internet constituency was and is motivated by one thing more than anything else: hatred of George W. Bush.
Barone then notes what has been the main focus of the right hemi-blogosphere:
The focus of hatred in the right blogosphere is not Kerry or the Democrats but what these bloggers call Mainstream Media, or MSM. They argue, correctly in my view, that the New York Times, CBS News, and others distorted the news in an attempt to defeat Bush in 2004.
Barone concludes:
So what hath the blogosphere wrought? The left blogosphere has moved the Democrats off to the left, and the right blogosphere has undermined the credibility of the Republicans' adversaries in Old Media. Both changes help Bush and the Republicans.
I think that's exactly right.

Hat tip:Powerpundit

Saturday, February 12, 2005

MCI-Qwest Merger Talk

MCI has a major operation near our home and a family friend works for them, so I have been watching the proposed merger of MCI and Qwest with some greater than usual interest. VoIP Watch, a telecom blog, has some thoughts about MCI's potential purchase about which I both agree and disagree. I agree that MCI may be worth more for its parts than for the whole thing, given that some of the parts are not as valuable (an aging UUNet infrastructure, for one). On the other hand, MCI is in a unique situation, having shed most, if not all, of its debt via the bankruptcy process. Consequently, it may have value as a whole for that reason.

It is quite ironic that, 21 years after the breakup of AT&T, we are seeing the re-consolidation of the telecom industry. Generally, though I disapproved of the use of the courts to effectuate the dismembering of the AT&T monopoly, the resulting innovation and competition have been nothing short of spectacular. Let's hope re-consolidation does not unduly stifle continued gains in this sector.

Howard "The Scream" Dean Chosen to Lead Democratic Party

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. Along the lines of that old aphorism, you can tell the Democrats they are committing political suicide , but you can't make them listen...

UPDATE: Professor Bainbridge posts along the same lines, noting that the Dean chairmanship more or less puts Hillary Clinton in the position of being a Democratic centrist, with further unwelcome (to the Democrats) ramifications. Looked at that way, however, it is conceivable that Dean's chairmanship could actually help Hillary with the electorate at large by allowing her to become the "straight woman" to Dean's putative craziness.

We are seeing some potential signs of this already with Clinton's "move" to the center on the abortion issue. Hillary, who already is the darling of the left, could drive her campaign to the center earlier in the primary season, allowing her to stake out ground sacrificed to the Republicans in the last two election cycles.

Just a thought.

Friday, February 11, 2005

A Cone of Silence

The MSM is still hanging tough with its code of omerta on the Eason Jordan matter: neither Google nor Reuters lists the Jordan resignation among its top stories. Google is deferring the story in favor of Prince Charles' proposed nuptials and a Sara Lee restructuring. Reuters features among other non-Eason stories, a piece about ex-ballplayer, now Kitty Kelly-esque tell-all "writer" Jose Canseco.

They don't get it; they don't want to get it; and they couldn't get it, even if they tried.

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]

An Easongate Chronology

Michelle Malkin has an excellent chronology up on the Eason Jordan matter. Fascinating reading.

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]

A Banner Night in the Blogosphere!

This evening, Eason Jordan resigned from CNN and Nancy Rabinowitz, head of gender studies at Hamilton College, also stepped down. Jordan, I am sure you are all familiar with. Rabinowitz's offense was inviting the disgusting Ward Churchill to speak at her college, igniting the firestorm about Churchill's remarkscalling the occupants of the World Trade Center on 9/11 "Little Eichmanns".

Good riddance to both.

Attack of the Cyber Dutchmen

Give me a break.

The Controversial Mr. Bollinger

Glenn Reynolds posts on the latest in the Columbia University kerfuffle over anti-Israel bias amongst its faculty. Controversy seems to follow Lee Bollinger wherever he goes. When he was Dean of the University of Michigan Law School in 1988, he ignited a firestorm by refusing to allow the FBI to interview students because of allegations of discrimination against the FBI in the hiring of Hispanic candidates. While president of the University of Michigan, he pursued the controversial admission policies that led to the Supreme Court's horrendous decision in Grutter v Bollinger and its companion case, Gratz v Bollinger.

Seems to me that Lee is a magnet for bad practices. It would not pain me to see him forced to resign as President of Columbia. The odds of that happening: slim to none.

Laugh for a Friday

Yahoo has a feature called "Ask Yahoo". This morning's gem is the following: Why are objects closer than they appear on the passenger's side?

A free one-year subscription to alt-ctrl-del for the first person to post a comment with the correct answer.

A Little Axis of Evil Musing

Does anyone else find it interesting that both Iran and North Korea are rattling the nuclear saber at the same time?

As Yoda would say: "A coincidence, I think this is not."

The Ultimate Valentine Gift for Your Significant Blogger!

The ultimate blogger gift for Valentines Day -- a Pajamagram!

UPDATE: Fixed link to Pajamagram site.

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]

Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Golden Opportunity

Smiley, the left brain of The Daily Demarche, blogs this evening on the unique opportunity we now have to "solve" the Middle East thicket, in particular, the Palestinian issue. The opportunity arises out of the confluence of a straight talking US President and successful elections in Iraq and Afghanistan, coupled with the serendipitous departure from the scene of Yasser Arafat. Smiley notes that these events have given rise to an atmosphere in which we might actually see some movement on the resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Indeed, events seem to bear this out, with the truce announced between the Palestinian Authority and Israel earlier this week, followed by the sacking of several Palestinian Authority commanders today following a mortar attack on Israeli settlements in Gaza.

This all looks good so far. Call me only cautiously optimistic, though, remembering as I do the similar hopes that followed on the heels of the Gulf War in 1991. What we actually got then was Oslo, followed by the Intifada, followed by Palestinians dancing in the streets on September 11, 2001.

No Hugs from North Korea

Notwithstanding its newly admitted nuclear arms, North Korea seems to be reluctant to dispense any hugs to its friends (I am, of course, making reference to the ridiculous bumper stickers from the 1980s which stated that "You can't hug your child with nuclear arms".).

North Korea is thumbing its nose at the diplomatic process and basically daring us -- the United States -- to do something about it. This is a difficult situation for the United States because actions undertaken in this region are still fraught with the tensions that existed worldwide during the Cold War. This is due to North Korea's western neighbor, China, which still is solicitous of North Korea, much like an older brother still concerns himself with the welfare of an out-of-control younger brother. In other words, anything we do will have to be weighed against probable Chinese reaction. The North Koreans know this and, truth be told, probably rely on the Chinese reaction more to deter the US than on its atomic weapons. Nevertheless, a morally bankrupt, unpredictable North Korea cannot be allowed to have nukes. If there is one regime in the world that I would pick to use a nuclear weapon unexpectedly, it would be the DPRK.

I do not pretend to have a solution to this issue. However, I will keep reading on the subject and post on it from time to time.

Microsoft's Longhorn -- A Recipe for Disaster?

I am one of those people who just can't wait for an updated software release. I am always waiting to see those new, gotta-have features that will make my life simpler. Its funny, though: the new features frequently make my work harder rather than easier. Nevertheless, I continue to hope that just around the bend.... You get the idea.

Microsoft is due to release its newest operating system, codenamed "Longhorn" sometime next year, some five years after the previous release, Windows XP. I've been following Longhorn's development from fifty-thousand feet and I have to say that, in at least this humble blogger's unschooled opinion, Microsoft may have bitten off more than it can chew. Longhorn is supposed to radically change the Windows environment, both as to how information is displayed and how it is processed. It all sounds very exciting and, if implemented, could change how we users relate to our PCs. But it has already run into some problems that have led to a scaling back of Microsoft's vision for the product. Several months ago, Microsoft announced that it was scuttling plans to include WinFS, a dramatically new filing system for Windows files, in Longhorn. Apparently, they just could not get the system to work well enough to include in Longhorn.

Now I understand that Microsoft is releasing for testing two of the three remaining pillars of Longhorn -- Indigo and Avalon. These two technologies still have not been melded into even a preliminary beta version of Longhorn. It sure seems to me that Microsoft still has a long way to go to get Longhorn in final form for a 2006 release. It also seems to me that they are going to have a tough time selling such a radically changed product to the all-important corporate market, which seems to be quite happy with Windows 2000, thank you very much.

I like Microsoft products and can't wait to see Longhorn. I just hope it hits the mark.

Barney Frank -- Unexpected Hero?

The blogosphere is rife with Easongate stories and I am not going to weigh in here on Mr. Jordan's statements. I do, however, want to give a nod to someone with whom I have almost nothing in common: Barney Frank. Every account I have read of the proceedings at the World Economic Forum, including a highly credible account by Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal, contains a reference to Mr. Frank challenging Eason Jordan's statements by demanding to know if Jordan had any specifics to back up his claims. Now, the cynics amongst us might claim that Frank was merely hoping to unearth something that might be fatal to the Bush Administration, or at least Donald Rumsfeld's career as SecDef. I don't think so. There would have been ample opportunity, post-forum, for Frank or one of his staff to contact Mr. Jordan for a quiet interview on the subject. No, I think that Mr. Jordan's statements were simply so over the top, that even a dyed in the wool liberal, like Mr. Frank, had a tough time believing that American soldiers would deliberately target non-combatants in Iraq.

At least I hope that's what it was all about.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

One Man Against the World

I posted last evening on my reaction to Professor Bainbridge's hypothesis that Pope John Paul II would not take the easy way out and retire from the Papacy. Then, this morning I chimed in on Nelson Ascher's thoughts on the global left as a movement and its drive to destroy everything the United States stands for. It was only on reflection that I recognized the relationship between both posts: the topics really dealt, in microcosm, with the two dominant philosophical strains that have been running through Western civilization since at least the Enlightenment.

On the one hand, you have Pope John Paul II (and the United States, most visibly through its Founding Documents) standing for the dignity of the person, in and of him/herself and as a child of God. The Pope's teachings have uniformly hewed to this doctrine, cf. Evangelium Vitae (1985), and now, as both Professor Bainbridge and I agree, the Pope will become the embodiment of those teachings, as his health continues to deteriorate, in full view of the millions who love him.

In contrast, you have what I will term the collectivists -- those for whom It Takes a Village to raise a child; those for whom the Elite, the Guardians, the Politburo or whatever name the ruling junta happens to don, are necessary to govern human relations. Ultimately, though they pay lip service to the contrary, the collectivists do not value personal human dignity; rather they value dignity as a function of society as a whole. If the dignity of one person must be sacrificed for the good of society, the collectivists maintain, so be it. The decision as to whose dignity must be sacrificed is solely for the ruling elite to determine. This philosophical strain reached its crescendo with the inception of the Soviet Union in 1917, continuing on more or less apace until the Communist bloc crumbled in the late 1980's and early 90's.

However, the collectivist strain also made inroads in Western Europe and the United States in the years following World War II. Socialism, abortion on demand, the increasing legal acceptance and endorsement of libertine behavior are all manifestations of this influence, the pedigree of which are amply demonstrated in Allan Bloom's excellent book, The Closing of the American Mind(1987). This insidious strain now takes the form of the anti-globalization movement, the anti-war movement (inasmuch as that movement is animated by a hostility to initiatives undertaken by any non-collectivist leaning (i.e. Republican) US administrations), the political correctness movement, the environmental movement, the multiculturalist movement, the feminist movement and a whole host of other "-isms." Uniting all of these movements is the underlying philosophy that human dignity must be subsumed to the collective good, something akin to how bees and ants operate at the hive level. The ultimate goal would be a world like that posited by George Orwell in 1984: joyless, techocratic and ruled by unimpeachable elites who always know what's best.

The man who, more than any other, has attacked both strains of collectivism, the external and the insidious, has been Pope John Paul II. He, along with his co-belligerent, Ronald Reagan, was responsible for the collapse of Soviet Communism. The Pope's weapon in that conflict was the power of ideas, of hope and of personal courage in the face of adversity. He stood, and stands, for the proposition that one man can make a difference. As a result, the Soviet Union and its vassal states are no more. The Pope has also, of course, consistently attacked insidious collectivism, maintaining the Church's stand against abortion and birth control, as well as combatting licentiousness in all its many forms.

It is tempting, therefore, to view the Pontiff as a lonely figure in white, bending into the wind, miter in hand, stating: "You will not pass!", in this epochal battle for philosophical preeminence. Some would even say that this is ultimately the battle of Good versus evil. I'll leave that for you to decide.

UPDATE: In the midst of preparing this post, Professor Bainbridge posted in a related vein on the issue of whether contemporary Catholic social thought draws more heavily on Marxism or on classic liberalism.

Winston Gets a Lasting Memorial

A new permanent exhibition honoring the life of Winston Churchill is opening in London, according to the Wall Street Journal. Churchill is my greatest political hero and was rightly voted the Greatest Briton of All Time in 2002 by the British public. In my mind, he should have been Time Magazine's Man of the Century in late 1999. What other statesman had so great an influence on the century (an impact, I might add, that remains today: Israel, Iraq, the United Nations, the armored tank are all among his legacy).

Next step: open a similar exhibition for Ronald Reagan.

Hewlett-Packard Fires Carly Fiorina

I'm stunned. Now I am not that much into Silicon Valley techno-politics, but I thought Fiorina was well-regarded and that HP was doing well under her watch.

Guess not!

UPDATE: Wall Street apparently agrees with the decision: HP's stock is up over $2.00 this morning in the pre-market.

The "Anti-Globalists"

Nelson Ascher hits on something I have been thinking about since the Seattle anti-globalization riots, namely the animus behind the various "protest" movements that have occurred throughout the world, chiefly aimed at Western econoomic institutions. I think Ascher has it nailed:
Those whom the fall of the Berlin Wall had left orphans of a cause, spent the next decade plotting the containment of the US. It was a complex operation that involved the (in many cases state-sponsored) mushrooming of NGOs, Kyoto, the creation of the ICC, the salami tactics applied against America’s main strategic ally in the Middle-East, Israel, through the Trojan Horse of the Oslo agreements, the subversion of the sanctions against Iraq etc. I’m not as conspiratorially-minded as to think that all these efforts were in any way centralized or that they had some kind of master-plan behind them. It was above all the case of the spirit of the times converging, through many independent manifestations, towards a single goal. Nonetheless we can be sure that, after those manifestations reached a critical mass, there has been no lack of efforts to coordinate them.And so, spontaneously up to a point, anti-Americanism became the alternative ideology that came to fill in the vacuum left by the failure of traditional, USSR-based communism and its Maoist or Trotskyite satellites. Before 1989, the global left had something to fight for: either the strengthening of the communist states or the correction of what they called their bureaucratic distortions. To fight for something is simultaneously to fight against whatever threatens it, and thus, the leftists were anti-Western and anti-Americans too, anti-capitalistic in short.Now, whatever they wanted to defend or protect doesn’t exist anymore. They have only things to destroy, and all those things are personified in the US, in its very existence.

Hat tip: Instapundit and Roger L. Simon.

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

This Has Got to Burn...

Professor Bainbridge posts the following picture, which he took on Sunset Strip in Hollywood:

You gotta love it. I'll bet all the glitterati to W's left really enjoy the free publicity!

A Real Collector's Item!

For all you video game players and/or hockey fans out there, the EA Sports NHL 2005 game might be a real collectors item: a video game memorializing a season that never was.

I very much miss my Detroit Red Wings on these long winter nights and I am not really sure which group -- the players or the owners -- I blame more. The players -- as in all professional sports -- are in many ways responsible for the deplorable financial state of the game. Face it, grown men playing a boy's game should not be paid millions of dollars a year. On the other hand, no one held a gun to the head of the individual owners and said: "Pay this guy a million bucks or ka-pow." Each owner knew what they were doing and continued doing it anyway.

"What?!?", say you, "I thought you were an ardent believer in capitalism and the law of supply and demand. Isn't that the way the system is supposed to work?"

But what a simple resort to the law of supply and demand misses are the distortions caused by television revenue and by the application of 1930s era labor laws to millionaire laborers. Competitive pressure has grown too great, magnified by the ridiculous TV deals the professional leagues keep getting. The TV money then fuels the free agency market, which favors the teams that have the most money (and my parents paid to get me a degree in Economics to come up with that one!). The end result can only be that "super teams" will dominate.

Ordinarily, this would result in the other owners (the numerical majority) simply voting changes in the rules to restore the competitive balance (e.g., a salary cap or luxury tax). Here's where the labor laws enter in. The players (naturally) oppose any organized restraint on salary inflation and they will exercise their collective bargaining power under the National Labor Relations Act to resist any substantive change that would limit those increases. And we are back to where we started, with the more well-entrenched teams gradually becoming completely dominant.

It's hardly ironic that the professional sports league with the most stringent restrictions on salary growth -- the NFL -- also features the most top-to-bottom balance amongst its teams and is the most financially successful.

The War on Terror in Context

Power Line (the ill Hindrocket) reminds us of the geographic consequences should the War on Terror fail. Simply put: the Battle of Tours (732 AD) might eventually turn out to have been merely a minor setback in radical Islam's conquest of Western Europe.

Will Pope John Paul II Step Down?

On this one, I agree with ProfessorBainbridge, who cites the Pope's own writings as evidence that il Papa will remain such for the duration of his life. In Evangelium vitae (The Gospel of Life), Pope John Paul notes that human suffering has meaning in and of itself and can, with grace, be offered as a sacrifice to God. Consequently, don't look for the Pope to take the easy way out, even under the guise of making way for a more vigorous, younger pontiff.

Moreover, I am quite confident that a will of iron and fire still lurks beneath that increasing frail countenance. Pope John Paul will never be accused of being a quitter.

Monday, February 07, 2005

The Hogs Get Left Out

I agree with ProfessorBainbridge: The 1983-1992 Washington Redskins definitely deserve to be in the Top 10 football dynasties. The Hogs and their descendants were WITHOUT QUESTION better football teams than the Buffalo Bills teams of the early 90s. You don't even get the right to claim dynastic status unless you actually win the Big Game (to use the watered down parlance for the Super Bowl that all the appliance stores have to use to hawk TVs before the game).

The UN Decides to Play Ball but Do We Want to Pick Them for Our Team?

The counter-terrorism symposium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia has yielded this interesting statement from Kofi Annan:
[the UN] "needs to articulate an effective and principled counter-terrorism strategy.” "All States need a principled strategy against terrorism," Annan said, "that includes, but is much broader than, coercive measures."
It seems to me that Kofi could simply follow the lead of the United States here and take on terror wherever it might fester. But, of course, that would require a recognition on the UN's part that certain activities, such as blowing one's self up on a bus crowded with innocent civilians, actually constitutes terror. Notice, as well, the dig at the United States in the statement that a "principled" terror strategy includes more than just coercion. How about year after year after year of ineffectual resolutions?

Hat tip: The Counterterrorism Blog

Darwin Meets the Cathode Ray Tube

Apparently, manufacturers of cathode ray tubes ("CRTs") are not going the way of buggy whips without a fight.

Fine -- that's exactly the way it should be. Faced with being left in the dust by the hot new thin screen technologies -- LCD and plasma (and even by the formerly derided projection screen technology) -- makers of CRTs had two choices: adapt or die. The second option is the easy way out, of course; simply fold up your CRT engineering and manufacturing operations, perhaps moving the resources over to the LCD or plasma sides of the house (the manufacturers cited in the article also have substantial LCD or plasma investments).

LG.Philips Displays and Samsung have opted to adapt, however, creating the "Super Slim Tube", which boasts technology reducing the depth of the unit to about 35 cm (roughly 9 inches for us Yanks). The goal inside 1 year is to reduce the depth to no more than 25 cm (about 6.5"). This would compare favorably with the 3" depth sported by many LCD and plasma units today. Industry experts believe that this depth reduction may be enough to allow the new Super Slim Tubes to compete with the thin screens, particularly since CRTs provide superior picture and performance. Whether the new tubes will meet market acceptance, however, remains to be seen. The upside potential, however, is quite high, particularly given the cost advantage of tubes over thin screens.

Adaptation is hard in business and in "real life". It forces you to think across the grain and, despite the best of intentions, is not always successful (think: "Wooly Mammoth"; it adapted well to the cooler climate of North America and Siberia, but in the end, humans were too much for it). In the end, though, adaptation through competition benefits everyone in the marketplace. Fifteen years ago, for example, the only practical use for thin screens was for the emerging laptop computer. In that span, however, not only has the thin screen technology has reached total domination of the laptop / notebook PC market, it has laid claim to much of the desktop PC monitor market and is now impinging solidly into an area where the CRT was once thought inviolate -- the living room TV.

Without that threat to its domination, the CRT would have remained as it always has -- big and clunky and relatively undesirable. Now, faced with imminent extinction, the CRT industry is adapting and the creativity unleashed as a result may ultimately lead to a more affordable AND better performing alternative for HDTV viewing, along with the slim form factor everyone craves these days. Even if the technology doesn't catch on, it is almost certain to drive the thin screen engineers to solve the problems that have dogged their products (viewing angle distortion and smearing of fast moving images -- particularly noticeable in sporting events and action movies). At the end of the day, we should end up with one or more products substantially better and cheaper than those available now.

The ultimate lesson is this: where economic competition (aka "capitalism") reigns, you can have your cake and eat it too! This is a lesson that can be (and has been successfully) applied to "products" as diverse as elementary school education (vouchers) to garbage collection (privitization). Its no wonder that, for all its flaws, our economic system remains the best the world has ever seen.

U.S Forces Free Egyptian Engineers Kidnapped by the Terrorists

This is great news, first and foremost for the Egyptian engineers who were freed. Secondarily, and perhaps more importantly for the long haul, I would guess that this signals that the U.S. / Iraqi security forces are getting more and better intelligence regarding the whereabouts of the terrorists, even in predominantly Sunni territory. Whether this is the case and if it will continue remains to be seen, but I'd like to think so.

Train Derailments

Has anyone besides me noticed that there have been a lot of stories recently about train derailments?


Sunday, February 06, 2005

Happy Birthday Gipper!

Today, on what would have been Ronald W. Reagan's 94th birthday, Michelle Malkin includes a link to a story of her first Ronald Reagan moment -- the 1982 State of the Union Address. What made it memorable for Michelle was the Lenny Skutnick story (he was the government employee who jumped into the freezing Potomac River to rescue a flight attendant from the doomed Air Florida Flight 90 that crashed into the 14th Street Bridge). It's funny -- that particular story has always been memorable for me, too. I am probably wrong about this, but it struck me at the time as the first time a President had ever introduced someone in the gallery. Even if it wasn't the first time, it was memorable (probably not least because it was so connected with the very public tragedy of the plane crash, which obviously got a lot of media attention).

Ronald Reagan and my family go back a ways -- my father was a delegate of Reagan's to the 1976 Kansas City Republican convention. He thereafter met the President-to-be in 1978 at an event in Toledo, Ohio, where a (very) candid shot was taken of the two of them talking (RWR looks like a deer in the headlights!). That photo is one of our family's most precious possessions.

We will never forget Ronald Reagan. Nor will history, which when all is said and done, will likely recognize him as one of the five greatest Presidents in Unites States history. What were his accomplishments: merely bringing down the deadliest threat to America in its 200+ year history without firing a shot and to restore a sense of dignity to the American people that had been shorn away in the tumults of the 1960s and 70s.

Happy Birthday, Mr. President!

Chrenkoff is Offering a Free Subscription...

Arthur Chrenkoffis offering a free subscription to the Teheran Times for anyone who can prove that a U.S. soldier joined the Army to "get away from Christian Fundamentalists."

Come on, some of you readers must know of someone!

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Blog = Love

I've noticed that the political / current events corner of the blogosphere seems to be inhabited by a lot of lawyers (Disclosure: I am one of them; though I am one of the disaffected that has left the practice for another calling). Now, I have no hard numbers to back that up, just a gut feeling. What's the attraction, you ask? Well, what other pasttime gives you the opportunity and even encourages you to cite authority? Badminton infrequently requires citation. Needlepoint is also somewhat sparse in this regard. Landscaping, car repair, cooking, running, golf, fishing each have one common characteristic: all can be enjoyed without a single reference to controlling or persuasive authority (unless you cheat, of course).

Ah, but political/current affairs blogging -- now THAT requires citation! Lawyers who enjoy blogging during their downtime (and, dare I say it, some during their up time) do so precisely because it makes that downtime so much like work. This tendency is learned early in the legal career. Anyone who has gone through the misery of having a relative return home from his/her first semester of law school know exactly what I am talking about: neophyte lawyers-to-be can't constrain their desire to be lawyers 24/7. As they progress through law school, they learn that not everyone in their world is as excited as they are about what Puffendorf had to say about property law or what the 2nd Circuit is now saying about securities law. So they learn to suppress the urge to cite outside of work. Lonely and torn in two, lawyers live their lives in silent despair -- that is,until blogging! Now lawyers can live their passions, even outside the workplace. They can be thought of as merely normal if they cite 2 or 3 other bloggers in their own witty piece. That is, however, until their spouse yells to them to get off the *~&#%$# computer and get something done around the house.


[Posted with hblogger 2.0]

Farewell to The Diplomad

Say it ain't so...The Diplomad is hanging it up. Although he denies that its because of any pressure from the State Department left wing weenies, that would still rank high on my list.

The Diplomad was one of those truly great blogs by someone who not only knows their subject matter, but was immersed in it. Add to that a great writing style and a keen wit and you end up with a great blog.

Farewell Diplomad. We will miss you!

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]

Friday, February 04, 2005

Possible Incident on Delta Flights from Europe

The Counterterrorism blog is reporting that there may be an incident on 2 Delta flights from Europe:
"News wires are now reporting that two Delta Air Lines flights, #81 and #119, inbound from Europe and Asia to JFK International Airport have declared in-flight emergencies and have landed under guard in New York. Reportedly, the emergencies were sparked by phoned-in threats to hijack the aircraft delivered to the U.S. government and a U.S. embassy abroad. "

I'll update as more details are known.

UPDATE: Fox News reports that a phone call was placed to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey stating that 7 persons on the terror watch list were on the planes. As it turns out none of the persons of interest were actually on the planes. The planes landed without incident.

Rice: U.S. Attack on Iran 'Not on Agenda' Now

Condi Rice: U.S. Attack on Iran 'Not on Agenda' Now.

Yup. And the there were no plans for an Iraq War on President Bush's desk in the first part of 2002. The plans were, however on Tommy Franks' and Don Rumsfeld's desks! I assume the mullahs in Iran remember this, as well.

Iraqi Terrorist Depravity Reaches New Lows

I was appalled to read this morning in Iraq the Model about the latest means used by the Iraqi terrorists (I will not dignify them by calling them insurgents) to wreak havoc on the innocents of Iraq. Apparently during the election, the terrorists kidnapped a man with Downs Syndrome, loaded him up with high explosive and had him walk towards a polling place, with the intention of remotely detonating the explosives when he reached the voters. This innocent man became frightened and turned back towards the terrorists, who then detonated the explosives, obviously killing the man.

As the brother of someone who is mentally handicapped, I know all too well how innocent and trusting they are. For anyone in this country to continue to romanticize these demons as anything but abject evil is incomprehensible. If those of you on the left do not denounce these terrorists, then you are no better than they are.

Hat tip: Roger L. Simon

Thursday, February 03, 2005

More Middle Eastern (Non)Experts

Fox News features a story this evening regarding Congressional efforts to back regime change in Iran. What is most interesting about this piece, however, is this little gem, offered up by a so-called Middle East expert:

Mona Yacoubian, a Middle East expert for the Center for Strategic and International Studies (search), said it is unclear whether the United States has enough credibility in the region to pursue another regime change now, even if it is a non-military one. She said any group seeking to overthrow the dictatorial ayatollahs — who have rendered seemingly moderate President Mohammad Khatami virtually powerless — might not want to have the United States linked to their efforts.

"My gut reaction would be any time an opposition party in that part of world is somehow associated with the United States, its credibility suffers," she said.

Yacoubian said that while a strong underground democracy movement exists, and anti-Americanism is not nearly as high in Iran as it is in places like Saudi Arabia or Egypt, the U.S. invasion of Iraq and reports that the United States may next focus its attention on Iran have not warmed Iranians to the American cause.

Ms. Yacoubian must have just slept through the last week. The millions of Iraqis who cast votes on Sunday certainly seemed somewhat enthused (that was sarcasm) about their recent regime change -- enough so that they literally risked their very lives to put their imprimatur on it by participating in the election. So while the Left (presumably including Ms. Yacoubian) persists in its fantasy view that "Everyone Hates US", the evidence continues to mount to the contrary.

The protestors in Tiannemen Square did not erect an Eiffel Tower, after all.

Ford Motor Pulls Super Bowl (er,"Big Game") Ad

According to a Detroit based published report, Ford Motor has elected to pull an ad scheduled to air during the Super Bowl this Sunday.
The ad shows a set of car keys placed on a collection plate. The clergyman finds a new Lincoln Mark LT truck in the parking lot, and lovingly caresses the exterior.

The car's owner then enters the picture, with his little girl poking her head from behind him - the implication being she had dropped the keys in the plate. The clergyman hands over the keys, then is depicted adding the letters L-T to a message board advertisting an upcoming sermon, to spell lust.

Does anyone else think this is ridiculous? I am certainly not in favor of child abuse by anyone, let alone a member of the clergy, but this reaction is certainly a stretch.

Memo to people upset over this: Get over it!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Oil for Food

Fox News is reporting that Paul Volcker's report on the Oil for Food scandal, due out tomorrow, will accuse the head of the UN's Oil for Food program of impermissible conflicts of interest. Pretty weak, but given that this is the UN's own report, pretty damning. Heads will roll. Will Kofi's be one of them?

Blogging the State of the Union: My take

President Bush hit all the points that we have been led to believe he would hit since the election. He spent the most time on Social Security and laid out a fairly detailed analysis of what will need to be done. Can't wait to see the full details.

As to foreign policy, President Bush clearly re-enunciated his goal of promoting freedom throughout the world. Iran and Syria were clearly in the cross-hairs. North Korea, while referred to, was not singled out in the same way. Most significantly (and a departure from the past) were the references to Egypt and Saudi Arabia. That's not going to go down well. However, since most of the vitriol in the Islamic world stems from teachings in the madrasas in those 2 countries, it was not inappropriate. It will be interesting to see what develops along those lines.

Blogging the State of the Union: Wrap up

"Freedom is the dream of the future." Good ending. Peggy Noonan will not like (which is too bad, really).

Blogging the State of the Union: The Armed Forces

Touching moment of the evening: Pres. Bush reads part of a letter from Marine Sgt. Byron Norwood, who died in Fallujah. His parents are in the gallery. Great scene of his Mom in an exchange with the Iraqi woman. Standing "O" from everyone. Very moving.

Blogging the State of the Union: Iraq (Finally!)

Iraq is the front line in the War on Terror. Pays tribute to elections. Lots of inkstained fingers held up by the Congress. I wonder how many of them would have had the guts to actually cast a ballot there? Pres. Bush notes the personal courage of those Iraqis who voted. BIG applause!

Great line: "Saddam was the occupier; America was the liberator". The Iraqi woman who said this is present, seated next to Laura Bush and holds up inkstained fingers. Great visual.

"A small group of extremists will not overturn the will of the Iraqi people" How can anyone argue with that. It shows how absolutely critical the election really was. A legitimacy was conferred that was not (nor could not be) there before.

"Freedom in Iraq will make America safer for generations to come". This gets even some Democrats to stand up.

No artificial deadline to pull out. We will come home when the job is done.

Blogging the State of the Union: Iran

Pres. Bush speaks directly to the Iranian people: "America stands with you." Watch out Tehran!

Update: Eaglespeak evidently interpreted this the same way I did. Good; he's a pro and I am just an amateur.

Blogging the State of the Union: Syria

Syria: "End support for terror and open the door for freedom". Better watch out Damascus!

Blogging the State of the Union: Saudi Arabia

Another gauntlet thrown, this time at Saudi Arabia and Egypt: "Become more democratic".

About time!

Blogging the State of the Union: Freedom redux

Pres. Bush once again states the commitment of the U.S. to freedom throughout the world. Goal: "End tyranny in our world."

Good. He's not backing down on this. Well, maybe a little, where he says we won't push our system on anyone else. As Winston Churchill once said: "Democracy is the worst system the world has seen...except all the others". If we don't push democracy, then what will we push?

Blogging the State of the Union: The War on Terror

"We will stay on the offensive against them, until the fight is won." Well, I guess that says it all!

Blogging the State of the Union: Judicial Appointments

Pres. Bush throws down the gauntlet to the Senate: Give every nominee an up or down vote. BIG applause from the Republicans. The Democrats? Do I need to say?

Blogging the State of the Union: Marriage Amendment

The President announces formally that he supports the Marriage Amendment. The Democrats remain seated. That's funny, since so many of them seemed to support the Marriage Amendment during the last election cycle.

Blogging the State of the Union: Social Security Reform

The President has just said we need to save and strengthen Social Security. No argument there. The other shoe is about to drop, though, as the Pres. says "No one over 55 needs to worry; benefits will be there." President Bush now notes that where it used to be 16 workers paying in for every person drawing on the system, its now only 3 workers, with 2018 being the breakpoint, with an annual shortfall of $300 million by 2033 and bankruptcy by 2042. Boos from the House (Democrats?, Republicans?) Must have been Democrats, who remain firmly glued to their seats during the applause line.

The challenge: "We must fix Social Security permanently". Great move: invokes Pres. Clinton's plan to increase the retirement age; Democrat Sen John Breaux's idea to discourage early collection of benefits and Democratic Sen Daniel Patrick Moynihan's recommendations to alter how benefits are calculated. All Democrats.

Applause line that retirement security is more important than partisan politics gets applause from everyone.

Roadmap: Permanent fix NOW; no increase in payroll taxes; lower income people get help in retirement; no change for those nearing retirement; and changes in system must be gradual. Best way to do this: Voluntary personal retirement accounts. (Democrats again glued to seats). Funds can only go into conservative stock and bond funds; no fees; volatility in accounts limited (insured against???) as earner nears retirement. Pres. Bush equates this plan to what Federal employees already enjoy.

Blogging the State of the Union: Immigration Reform

I give President Bush credit for this: he is tacking into conservative winds on this, proposing, among other things, amnesty for current illegals and a guest worker program. I still am not sure where I come down on this.

Health Care issues

This was a real bi-partisan favorite, getting lots of applause, albeit for wholly different partisan reasons.

Tort Reform

This is a particular favorite of mine. President Bush specifically singled out asbestos cases and class actions. It needs to go farther than this, but its a real start.

Spending Discipline

Well, this is a welcome start: holding discretionary spending below the rate of inflation. For all there is to like about the Bush Administration, discretionary spending restraint is not one of them. I hope that he really means this. He may, since I have always believed that much of the spending in the first term was designed to make re-election easier.

Focus on the Future

Pres. Bush is clearly laying the groundwork for Social Security reform by asking: "What will be the state" of our children's union. Good approach. Very hard to argue with it. Brings the Social Security crisis right to the forefront.

Tribute to the democratic process in the Mid East and Ukraine

A nice touch by Pres. Bush in recognizing the democratic elections in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Ukraine and Palestine. If you think about, this truly is a remarkable achievement, unthinkable just 15 years ago.

Applause for the President

Maybe its just me, but the applause seems more prolonged and enthusiastic than in years past. I seem to detect an Army "Hooo-rahhh", too.

The President's entry into the House Chamber

Pres. Bush is moving down the aisle, greeting the assembled members of Congress. Right behind him is Nancy Pelosi. How disgusting.

Semi Live Blogging the State of the Union Address

I am Tivo Blogging the State of the Union about 25 minutes delayed.

Exclusive Photos of Iraqi GI Joe Kidnappers

Exclusive to alt-ctrl-del, the photo below (grainy though it is) is of the perpetrators of the kidnapping of John Adam, the U.S. "Soldier" kidnapped in Iraq. A nasty looking bunch indeed...

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Eason's Treason?

Roger Simon raises a good point as to whether Eason Jordan, the news chief at CNN, committed treason by insinuating that U.S. Servicemen deliberately target journalists covering the war in Iraq. Treason is defined, among other things,in Title 18, Section 2388 of the United States Code as being perpetrated by:

(a) Whoever, when the United States is at war, willfully makes or
conveys false reports or false statements with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the military or naval forces of the United States or to promote the success of its enemies

In other words, treason is not necessarily limited to disclosing top secret information to the bad guys. It's enough that you say things that you know will help the bad guys. Assuming that Jordan's assertion is false and that he knew or should have known it was false, let's examine the application of 18 USC 2388 in his case point by point:

  • Is the United States at war? While a Declaration of War was not proclaimed by Congress, a very good argument can be made that a state of war exists based upon the resolutions passed by the Congress in support of the Iraq War. Practically speaking, after all the handwringing by the Left, do you think for a moment that they do not believe we have been at war these 22 months (and more)?
  • Was Jordan acting willfully? The accepted legal definition of a willful act is an" act ... done intentionally, as distinguished from an act done carelessly or inadvertently." What do you think? You don't drop charges like that by accident, especially when you are the head of one of the world's largest news organizations (et tu, Dan Rather?)
  • Was Jordan's intent to interfere with the operation or success of our military or to promote the success of our enemies? This is one of those self-evident propositions. It's impossible to get into someone's head and directly discern their intent on committing an act. However, just like proving any other intent based crime, you look at the probability that one intended a certain outcome based upon what was done. The criminal prosecuted for intending to commit murder does not need to confess that he intended to kill the victim; it's sufficient to show that the bad guy pointed a gun at someone's head and pulled the trigger. The intent can be inferred from the act itself. So, too, here. What other possible motive could Jordan have had than to promote the success of our enemies in Iraq? Was it to scoop CNN's competitors? No, if that had been the case, don't you think CNN itself would have broken the story? How about an altruistic desire to reveal the truth? If that were the case, then why did Jordan backpedal? The simple answer is: he wanted to throw this handgrenade out there and then disclaim any real responsibility for it when and if it exploded ("I didn't know that thing was going to blow up!").
The United States has been far too lax in enforcing its laws against treason in the last 40 years. Part of it probably stems from a fear that an activist judiciary will strike down the laws as violative of the First Amendment.

Word of advice to the Justice Department: Get over it and get after these people.

Academic Freedom as an Empty Promise...

PowerPundit raises some interesting issues about the scope and breadth of academic freedom. PowerPundit's topic is Ward Churchill, an associate professor at the University of Colorado who has made some very controversial (to say the least) comments about America's culpability for 9/11. I'm not even going to touch that one; he has been rightly and roundly excoriated for his despicable views on that subject. I am more interested in the topic of academic freedom, generally.

Most extreme proponents would have us believe that academic freedom is one of the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights - which it most assuredly is not (I am not about to get into a lengthy discussion about what academic freedom is, save that it is fundamentally a contractual right afforded academics that they will not be disciplined for their writings and teachings, to the point that, once they have achieved tenure, the academic may only be dismissed for good cause). My point here is that however noble may have been the origins of the concept, academic freedom has now, like so many other "rights", been twisted from its origins by the Left and usedas a sword to attack the established order and to shield it from criticism of any sort.

Academics today claim the right not only to make outrageous statements, like Ward Churchill's, but also not to suffer any consequences for having made them. Like all rights, however, academic freedom has both a limit and a conjunctive obligation attached to it. The most analogous right, of course, is the right to free speech embodied in the First Amendment. As we all know, that right is not limitless -- we've all heard Oliver Wendell Holmes dictum against shouting fire in a crowded theater. It is within the state's power to punish someone who does so shout, notwithstanding the First Amendment. It is just common sense.

Nor is academic freedom boundless. For instance, Ward Churchill's statements regarding American culpability for 9/11 probably reach what has. traditionally, been held to be treasonous -- a form of speech that is per se not protected by the First Amendment. This is where the obligation part comes in. My Property Law prof always emphasized the axiom that every right carries with it a corresponding obligation. The right that is "academic freedom" carries with it the obligation to exercise that freedom judiciously. Using academic freedom to promote political, rather than truly academic ends, distorts the original intention in affording academic freedom in the first place.

I think we need to have a thorough re-examination of the concept of academic freedom. We need to be able to put reasonable bounds on what it means and what the penalties are for flouting it. This type of topic has been off-limits for far too long as we have labored under the notion that we should accept the "marketplace of ideas" as a didactic means of reaching "truth". That concept has led to the ruin of First Amendment jurisprudence as well as concept of academic freedom. We are always free to learn from our mistakes...

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]