Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Beating the high cost of gas

There are five million automobile engines currently driving around the U.S. that are fully equipped to survive without gasoline. The brands? Ford Taurus and Explorer. Dodge Stratus. Chevy Suburban. And others. These vehicles are capable of running on an energy source that costs less than gasoline, is renewable, and has almost no emissions.

And, no, I'm not kidding.

Ethanol -- somewhat similar to the central ingredient of the "Purple Monkey Punch" (pure grain alcohol) you probably drank at one point or another during college -- can be made from corn and corn husks, sugar cane, wood chips, and other agricultural waste products. This biomass-based fuel is "cellulosic ethanol" and it burns far cleaner than gas: emissions are reduced more than 80% and no acid-rain byproducts are released while burning.

The Department of Energy cautiously posits that ethanol could cut America's gas consumption by 30% within 25 years:

In Decatur, Ill., nobody is waiting around for the future; demand for ethanol from corn is booming right now. This grain-elevator-dotted town is home to agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland, which makes it the capital of the old-school heavily subsidized U.S. ethanol industry. On a blustery January day, the air is thick with fog, sleet, and condensation from the corn mills on the 600-acre complex next to ADM's corporate office. Outside the ethanol plant, the air smells like grape juice gone bad. Inside, with its giant vats and fermentation towers, the biorefinery resembles a winery, but it's much noisier.

How to Beat the High Cost of Gasoline. Forever!

Best of PoliPundit

I just broke out in a spate of snickering and, dare I say it, outright laughing, over the latest news blurbs from PoliPundit. Here's a taste, but be sure to read their group blog. Every day.

Here’s a report that will not be featured – assuming it even sees the light of day – over on cBS/NBC/ABC/CNN/MSNBC/NPR: "[National] Guard plans to expand amid recruiting boost"

* * *

Do you enjoy watching Ted Kennedy yelling futilely, as he watches conservatives taking over the Supreme Court? Video here. Enjoy.

* * *

Here’s the official press release about the MediaCrats’ pathetic filibuster attempt from the Moonbats over at Alliance for Justice. Ironically, they’re quite correct about one thing:

Americans will feel the impact of [Justice Alito’s] nomination for years to come.

No doubt. As we’ve mentioned quite often around these parts, Justice Alito is likely to remain on the High Court – beating the lingering vestiges of leftism utterly senseless – for at least 25 years to come.

* * *

John ("Davos") Kerry managed to get a grand total of 24 other MediaCrats to join him in that silly fund raising, er, filibuster ploy. Cute, huh?

In any event, the cloture motion passed, 72-25-3. Justice Alito formally will be confirmed to the SCOTUS tomorrow morning. At only 55 years of age, Justice Alito will be helping to eradicate the vestiges of leftism as national public policy long after they finally get around to removing those wax figures of Pat Leahy, Ted Kennedy…..

Hold on a second.




Those are *not* wax figures?


He’ll be on the SCOTUS for a long time, Chomsky.

So, get used to him.

Taliban Reloaded

Inspired by the sweeping success story that was the Taliban, the Hamas government -- newly installed as the Palestinian leadership party (and infamous terror group) -- has decided to revamp the territories' legal system. Using shari’a law, which worked out so well in Afghanistan:

The incoming Hamas government will move quickly to make Islamic sharia “a source” of law in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and will overhaul the Palestinian education system to separate boys and girls and introduce a more Islamic curriculum, a senior official in the movement said yesterday.

LGF: Hamas First Legislative Act: Shari'a Law

Monday, January 30, 2006

Microsoft Tricks Hacker Into Jail

Investigators hired by Microsoft ran a sting operation, which earned a Connecticut man two years in prison for selling Windows source code. The code had circulated widely on the Internet via peer-to-peer sharing networks, but this perp was one of the few to try to sell it.

The big news, in my opinion, is what he figured Windows source code was worth: twenty bucks.

read more | digg story

Using Java Could lead to Death

The fine-print of the Java license agreement (hat tip: Dark Side):

The software product may contain support for programs written in Java. Java technology is not fault tolerant and is not designed, manufactured, or intended for use or resale as on-line control equipment in hazardous environments requiring fail-safe performance, such as in the operation of nuclear facilities, aircraft navigation or communication systems, air traffic control, direct life support machines , or weapon systems, in which the failure of Java technology could lead directly to death, personal injury, or severe physical or environmental damage.

Uhm, okaaaaaaaaay.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Which language for teaching Computer Science?

I may be the last software geek on the planet to have read it, but Joel Spolsky's "The perils of Java in schools" resonated with me. Spolsky's premise is that Java isn't "hard" enough to weed out the competent from the incompetent software talent. For that, Spolsky claims, concepts like pointers and recursion are required. If a student can't digest and master those two facets of Computer Science, he or she shouldn't be a CS major. Spolsky notes:

...[the] real value [of these concepts] is that building big systems requires the kind of mental flexibility you get from learning about them, and the mental aptitude you need to avoid being weeded out of the courses in which they are taught. Pointers and recursion require a certain ability to reason, to think in abstractions, and, most importantly, to view a problem at several levels of abstraction simultaneously. And thus, the ability to understand pointers and recursion is directly correlated with the ability to be a great programmer.

Nothing about an all-Java CS degree really weeds out the students who lack the mental agility to deal with these concepts.

So why does it resonate with me? Is it because I was weaned on Intel 8080 assembler and then graduated to a high-level language: x86 assembler? That was a joke (believe me when I tell you that writing a "Space Invaders" game in x86 assembler for the Sanyo MBC550 -- which I did for fun in the eighties -- is no walk in the park).

Is it because I probably wrote somewhere around a half a million of lines of C code for FASTech and Alpha Software? Or hundreds of thousands of lines of C++ for extremely large organizations in my gigs as an IT consultant ("no JVMs need apply... we want performance, dammit! We need... ISAPI!")?

I'm not really sure. I love Java as an O-O teaching tool. There's no better set of tutorials on the planet for object-oriented programming than Sun's walk-throughs. But Java has always seemed like a toy to me. The layers of abstraction between the bare metal of the machine and me -- the developer -- seemed onerous and unncessary. And it didn't help that Java performance in the early days was, at best, weak.

The old JVMs were also problematic. Just when you least expect it, they'd decide it was time to garbage-collect. And then you'd watch the CPU spike. There was no predictability and no instrumentation on the JVM to help. Even today, if you need to escape to the bare metal, Java requires a strenuous escapement layer called JNI. 99% of the time, sure, you don't need to get to the bare metal. But for that 1% of the time when you need absolute performance or access to a low-level capability...

Bottom line is that Spolsky is right. Java is not challenging enough to teach both the low-level and the high-level concepts of software engineering. But there's also a problem with teaching C or C++: the really good developers aren't teachers... they're working in industry somewhere. I believe it's exceptionally hard to become really skilled at C/C++ unless you work with it for years. My guess is that mastering C requires at least a year of non-stop, real world development. C++ (with appropriate libraries such as STL, MFC, or equivalent) takes at least another year.

Suffice it to say that most teachers won't be able to reach this level of mastery of the language. So what's the answer? How about assembler? That gets you to the bare metal... teaches you CPU architecture... can be used to teach recursion. Plus: pointers come included... for free!

Email or call your Computer Science school today and demand that assembler be taught to all CS majors as the introductory class. Now that's a weed-out class!

Assembler, dammit, assembler! Young whipper-snappers... ***grumbling noises***

Google's Secret Data Centers?

Everyone knows about Google's data center on the west coast. But they've reportedly got others scattered throughout the world. After my brother asked the question ("have you heard about the $750 million Google is spending on data centers throughout the US?"), I did a little -- why, yes -- googling to discover the following:

* Here's one from '04 near Atlanta

* Here's a report of one in the Netherlands

* And another report of one in Dublin, Ireland

And you may have seen rumors of Google's "data-center in a trailer" that can be drop-shipped anywhere there's fiber and set-up in hours. Those could obviously be located anywhere... if they're production-ready.

Are there more? Almost certainly. I'm sure Google stands these up as quietly as they can -- for both competitive and physical security reasons.

Death to the Cubicle!

The rigor around employee productivity and workplace design has always struck me as somewhat lacking. Does sticking everyone in a cubicle have an ROI? Some are now rethinking the merits of cubes and their impact on productivity.

"Dilbert was a real-estate effectiveness issue... the effectiveness of the employee is now worth more than the real estate."

read more | digg story

John Kerry Yodels for a Filibuster

The Best of the Web features this gem regarding the Alito confirmation. You'll recall, of course, that John Kerry -- speaking from a resort in Davos, Switzerland, called for a filibuster of Judge Alito. James Taranto remarks:

...of course the filibuster cannot succeed. Seven Democratic senators are on record as renouncing the filibuster except in "extraordinary circumstances," and it's hard to think of a circumstance more ordinary than Kennedy and Kerry behaving like fools.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Today's Thought Experiment

Here are two ledes. Can you tell which one represents the real news article -- and which is bogus?

1 A top Iraqi General revealed there were no WMDs in Iraq prior to the war:

The man who served as the no. 2 official in Saddam Hussein's air force says Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction in the years prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Because he was, "responsible for the inventory of all major weapons systems," the official had intimate knowledge of Iraqi military capabilities.

The Iraqi general, Georges Sada, makes the charges in a new book, "Bush's Secrets," released this week. He detailed Saddam Hussein's insistence that the Iraqi military "come clean" to UN inspectors and also charged that Bush "misled the U.S. into a terrible mistake of a war."

"There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq prior to the war, and therefore they could not be found by the US or anyone else," Mr. Sada said. "I am confident that further investigation will prove this."

2 A top Iraqi General reported that Iraq airlifted WMDs into Syria just before the invasion of Iraq:

The man who served as the no. 2 official in Saddam Hussein's air force says Iraq moved weapons of mass destruction into Syria before the war by loading the weapons into civilian aircraft in which the passenger seats were removed.

The Iraqi general, Georges Sada, makes the charges in a new book, "Saddam's Secrets," released this week. He detailed the transfers in an interview yesterday with The New York Sun.

"There are weapons of mass destruction gone out from Iraq to Syria, and they must be found and returned to safe hands," Mr. Sada said. "I am confident they were taken over." Mr. Sada's comments come just more than a month after Israel's top general during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Moshe Yaalon, told the Sun that Saddam "transferred the chemical agents from Iraq to Syria."

* * *

Here's the answer to today's thought experiment: if the first article were true, you'd have seen it plastered on the front page of the New York Times -- and dozens of other major daily papers -- for weeks on end (remember Al Qaqaa?). The second article, however, really happened. Since it doesn't portray the Bush administration in an unflattering light, however, you won't see it anywhere near the the front page of most American dailies.

Thank you for participating in today's thought experiment.

p.s., And if you're wondering why Hussein ordered Sada to move the WMD's, just ask Jay Rockefeller. I sincerely hope Rockefeller is prosecuted to the maximum extent allowed by law if those allegations are true.

The A to Z of Programmer Predilictions

Funny article describing the 26 flavors of software developer. Here's a taste:

Generic George

George delights in the design process. Pathologically incapable of solving just the immediate problem at hand, George always creates the most generic, flexible and adaptable solution possible, paying for the capabilities he thinks he will need in the future with extra complexity now. Sadly, George always seems to anticipate incorrectly. The castles in the air that he continually builds rarely end up with more than a single room occupied. Meanwhile, everyone must cope with the inordinate degree of time and effort that is needlessly invested in managing the complexity of an implementation whose flexibility is never required. It is a usual characteristic of George's work that it takes at least a dozen classes working together to accomplish even trivial functionality. He is generally the first to declare "Let's build a framework" whenever the opportunity presents itself, and the last to want to use the framework thus created.

The A to Z of Programmer Predilictions

Couric uses brass knuckles on Howard Dean

Someone slap me on the butt and call me Sally. Katie Couric just pounded Howard Dean into a tiny spit-shaped drop of Vermont maple syrup on GMA. The topic? NSA international wiretaps. And I don't know what's gotten into Ms. Couric lately, but I like it .

Couric: "If this potentially stops another terrorist attack like 9/11, why not give the White House some latitude? ...Have you seen any evidence, Governor Dean, have you seen any evidence that this is happening, that the administration is somehow poking into the private lives of Americans?"

Dean: "...We don't believe you ought to spy on American citizens without some third party looking at this. That's what makes the difference between America and other countries like Iran." [Ed: uhm, yeah, that's the difference between us and Iran: international wiretaps... not threatening to wipe other countries off the map, torturing homosexuals, repressing people of other religions, funding suicide bombers, ...]
Couric: "You know a lot of people say the Democratic party at this point in time criticizes all and literally stands for nothing. Even James Carville and Paul Begala - you can't find two more hard-core Democrats than that, Governor Dean - in their book wrote that the Democratic party needs a backbone and a spinal transplant. So what do you think the Democratic party stands for at this point in time?"
Couric: "A new CNN/USAToday/Gallup poll shows 51% of registered voters say they would definitely not vote for Sen. Hillary Clinton for president if she runs in 2008. She's the front-runner among Democrats. Is that bad news in your view?"
Dean: "That's absolutely false, that did not happen. Not one dime of money from Jack Abramoff went to any Democrat at any time."

Couric: "Let me just tell you. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Abramoff and his associates gave $3 million to Republicans and $1.5 million to Democrats."

Wow. It's really kind of amazing to see the mainstream media grilling a leading Democrat, isn't it? I could really, really get used to this.

Google Confirms Testing Redesigned Results Page

This Antone Gonsalves article confirms what was reported here (and many other places) yesterday. Take a read of the article and then click the hyperlinked word "web". Don't get dizzy...

Dowd: Clinton a "Poignant and Endearing" Liar

The egregious Maureen Dowd was visiting (where else?) the Keith Olberbat show which -- if Nielsens are a measure of health -- is in the ICU and fading fast. The issue? Lying Presidents. Ding ding! We've got a winner: Bill Clinton. And Dowdy is somewhat infatuated with the ex-Prez; when Clinton lied, it was "poignant and endearing":

No, they're two entirely different things because when Bill Clinton would deceive, he would throw in a semantic clue that let you know he was deceiving. 'I did not have sexual relations with that woman.' We knew what he meant by that. You know, 'I did not,' about dope, 'I didn't break the laws of this country.' So it was sort of poignant and endearing. He would let you know he was lying, and then the right wing would come down so hard on him and overpunish him. And in the case of Bush, he's just in a completely different reality. You know, they call us the 'reality-based community,' and they create their own reality, and so Bush is just in a bubble. And when you're in the bubble, you don't know you're in the bubble.

Ain't it the truth? The bubble part, that is. Someone's in the bubble, all right, and it ain't George W. Bush.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Latest at Google: new results page and algorithms?

There are reports that some Google users are seeing a spiffy new version of the search engine's results page (a direct link to a screen shot is here). The new page includes a graphical representation of results in each category (image, video, etc.) using simple bar-graphs.

In addition, there are rumors that a major new page-ranking algorithm will be released soon (code-named: "Big Daddy"). Supposedly, the IP addresses and represent gateways to the new algorithm. In a quick test, I did notice a few minor differences in search result order, but nothing dramatic. A more comprehensive test is certainly warranted, however.

read more

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Alpha Five wins CRN Database of the Year

I missed this the first time around, but in perusing Dave's blog -- and then Pete's -- found out that our illicit love-child -- Alpha Five -- recently won a major award. Alpha Five is a popular end-user database and its most recent incarnation, version 7, beat out FileMaker and Microsoft Access to take Computer Reseller News' Database of the Year for 2005.

This is truly an amazing accomplishment for Alpha, and a testament to the design abilities of Selwyn Rabins and the develpment talents of Cian Chambliss. It's astounding to think that such a small company could meet Microsoft -- head to head -- and beat it hands down in this type of competition. It truly is a David-against-Goliath story.

Back in, oh I don't know, 1989, I worked for Alpha. It was a small, but growing company, selling a very popular database for DOS called Alpha Four. Jim Gerow had helped create the original version of the product ("Database Manager 2 - The Integrator"). Pete and Jim then collaborated on subsequent products: Alpha Three and Alpha Four. The latter, an immensely popular product, was written in C and had -- by that time -- grown to a point where it was well nigh unmaintainable. Pete and I used to go on long walks to discuss the nature of the beast, which was getting close to driving us both insane.

We knew that Windows was coming out shortly (actually, May 1990) and I used to walk into the co-President's (Selwyn's) office on a regular basis to bitch and moan complain that the code was not going to take us into the Windows 3.X world. He probably just got sick of hearing me say it, but he did give me permission to begin work on the design of a new, Windows-based database.

I began sketching out a layered architecture for the product and Pete soon finished up his A4 tasks and joined me. Dave also was a key hire who -- I think -- was the third member of our team. Soon others, including the inimitable Gerry Polucci, joined us -- Gerry straight out of school as a CS grad -- and contributed greatly to the product.

This team, with the invaluable counsel of product manager Peter Mesnik, delivered the first two versions of Alpha Five back in the mid-nineties. Of course, the product now probably bears scant resemblance to what we created, but I'm sure each of us is proud of our involvement in the product line even if little of our code remains.

Two things I wanted to mention:

1) Selwyn is a design genius. Not graphical design, but user-interface design for databases. What Adam Bosworth might have been to Borland and Microsoft, Selwyn has been to Alpha -- with far fewer weapons to bring to bear. His understanding of the fundamental problems related to small business databases, his empathy for users, and his willingness to think outside the box are truly without peer.

This sort of design effort is art, not science. Selwyn -- with the equally incredible business acumen contributed by his brother, Richard -- has been able to translate that into an outstanding suite of products.

2) Cian is a development genius. His original work on the award-winning AlphaWorks product (which competed with Microsoft Works -- and actually beat it in some reviews -- was subsequently sold to Lotus and then ruined later discontinued). His most recent work on the astonishingly complex Alpha Five database (even version 1 was over 600,000 lines of C code... I shudder to think how big it is today) demonstrates that he is truly a master of complex software design.

Go visit the Alpha site. And if you need a database product, buy yourself a copy. You'll be amazed. I promise.

ABC: The Education Monopoloy is Cheating our Kids

Lackadaisacal students. Poor test results. An unceasing litany of tax hikes. John Stossel's report on our disfunctional educational system is aptly named. It's called, "Stupid in America."

Jay Greene, author of "Education Myths," points out that "If money were the solution, the problem would already be solved … We've doubled per pupil spending, adjusting for inflation, over the last 30 years, and yet schools aren't better."

He's absolutely right. National graduation rates and achievement scores are flat, while spending on education has increased more than 100 percent since 1971. More money hasn't helped American kids.

Ben Chavis is a former public school principal who now runs an alternative charter school in Oakland, Calif., that spends thousands of dollars less per student than the surrounding public schools. He laughs at the public schools' complaints about money.

"That is the biggest lie in America. They waste money," he said.

So what's the solution? As usual, competition. Not only does it work -- and it's been proven to do so in other countries -- it's astonishingly successful:

To give you an idea of how competitive American schools are and how U.S. students performed compared with their European counterparts, we gave parts of an international test to some high school students in Belgium and in New Jersey... [the] Belgian kids cleaned the American kids' clocks, and called them "stupid."

...American schools don't teach as well as schools in other countries because they are government monopolies, and monopolies don't have much incentive to compete. In Belgium, by contrast, the money is attached to the kids — it's a kind of voucher system. Government funds education — at many different kinds of schools — but if a school can't attract students, it goes out of business.

Sip the sweet nectar of wisdom and read the whole thing.


The U.S. Army is planning tests for its next-generation "super-gun" from a company appropriately named Metal Storm. It can fire 240,000 projectiles per minute and operates without any moving parts. Among other capabilities, it can take out enemy mortar rounds.

Two thoughts: (a) I want one; and (b) "Come get some, alien b***hes!!".

CNN's Interview with a Crackpot

How CNN could devote several precious minutes of airtime to a delusional crackpot is anyone's guess. Hugh Hewitt provides the transcript and valuable commentary.

Wolf Blitzer: ...those are powerful words, calling an agency of the US government, the Department of Homeland Security, with what about 300,000 federal employees, the new Gestapo. Do you want to take that back?

HB: No not really. I stand by my remarks... [rant omitted]

WB: But let me interrupt for a second. Are you familiar and I am sure you are because you are an intelligent man, what the Gestapo did to the Jews in World War II.

HB:: Absolutely.

WB: And you think that what the Department of Homeland Security is doing to some US citizens suspected of terrorism is similar to what the Nazis did to the Jews?

HB: Well, if you are taking people out of the country, and spiriting them someplace else, and they are being tortured, and they are being charged or not being charged so they will know what it is that they have done, it may not have been directly inside the, inside the Deaprtment of Homeland Security, but the pattern, the system, it is what the system does, it is what all these different divisions have begun to reveal in their collective...

WB: But no one has taken you or anyone else as far as I can tell to an extermination camp and by the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands, even millions decided to kill them which is what the Nazis did.

HB: Mr. Blitzer, let me say this to you. Perhaps, just perhaps, if the Jews of Germany and people spoken out much earlier and had resisted the tyranny that was on the horizon, perhaps we would never have had Adolph Hitler and the Gestapo.

I take it from his statement that Mr. Belafonte is an avid gun-rights supporter because -- long before the Gestapo came into being -- Hitler had issued comprehensive gun-control laws. Surely, if the Jews had been permitted to possess light weaponry, they could have "resisted the tyranny" brought about by tens or hundreds of thousands of heavily-armed Nazis.

Ivins: "I will not support Hillary"

Famed liberal columnist Molly Ivins makes it clear she won't be supporting you-know-who:

I'd like to make it clear to the people who run the Democratic Party that I will not support Hillary Clinton for president.

Enough. Enough triangulation, calculation and equivocation. Enough clever straddling, enough not offending anyone This is not a Dick Morris election. Sen. Clinton is apparently incapable of taking a clear stand on the war in Iraq, and that alone is enough to disqualify her. Her failure to speak out on Terri Schiavo, not to mention that gross pandering on flag-burning, are just contemptible little dodges...

Uh oh. Sounds like the Mediacrats' Left Bank has given up on all of Hillary's reconnoitering, poll-reading, and pandering to the American centrists.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Hacks, Hacks, and still more Hacks

The jamokes over at O'Reilly have published a great cheat-sheet of hacks. The categories include:

Access | Amazon | Apache | Astronomy | BlackBerry | Blogging | BSD | Car PC | Digital Photography | Digital Video | eBay | Email | Excel | Firefox | Flash | Gaming | Google | Greasemonkey | Halo 2 | Home Theater | iPod and iTunes | IRC | Java | Knoppix | Linux Desktop | Linux Multimedia | Linux Server ........

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Key Democratic Voting Bloc now online in Maryland

The Mediacrats are moving their chess pieces around the board, trying to maximize their constituency for the '06 and '08 elections. Their key voting blocs include, of course, felons, corpses, and multi-state voters (hat tip: PoliPundit):

[Maryland] Measure restores vote to all felons

Democratic lawmakers, who have long pushed to restore voting rights to Maryland felons, say racial politics and election-year considerations make this the year they open the polls to every ex-convict.

Sometimes these stories just write themselves.

And now you know why the Mediacrats fight voter-ID legislation at every turn: corpses can't vote if you card them.

NSA International Wiretaps: Hayden slam-dunks the Mediacrats

The invaluable Powerline informs us of the definitive interview relating to the legality of the NSA's international wiretaps. Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the National Security Agency, spoke at the National Press Club and also entertained questions from a bevy of mediacrats (and a few others).

And, no, you won't see any of this detail reported in your daily newspaper. I know, I just checked a few online. The money question and answer:

QUESTION: General Hayden, the FISA law says that the NSA can do intercepts as long as you go to the court within 72 hours to get a warrant.

I understood you to say that you are aggressively using FISA but selectively doing so. Why are you not able to go to FISA as the law requires in all cases? And if the law is outdated, why haven't you asked Congress to update it? [Ed: Note how the journalists immediately encapsulate the Democrats' critique of the NSA program in their questions.]

GEN. HAYDEN: Lots of questions contained there. Let me try them one at a time. First of all, I need to get a statement of fact out here, all right? NSA cannot -- under the FISA statute, NSA cannot put someone on coverage and go ahead and play for 72 hours while it gets a note saying it was okay. All right? The attorney general is the one who approves emergency FISA coverage, and the attorney general's standard for approving FISA coverage is a body of evidence equal to that which he would present to the court. So it's not like you can throw it on for 72 hours.

In the instances where this program applies, FISA does not give us the operational effect that the authorities that the president has given us give us. Look. I can't -- and I understand it's going to be an incomplete answer, and I can't give you all the fine print as to why, but let me just kind of reverse the answer just a bit. If FISA worked just as well, why wouldn't I use FISA? To save typing? No. There is an operational impact here, and I have two paths in front of me, both of them lawful, one FISA, one the presidential -- the president's authorization. And we go down this path because our operational judgment is it is much more effective. So we do it for that reason...

Go ye and read of it, for it is good.

Monday, January 23, 2006

World Tracker - Turns anyone into a cellphone spy

It may only be available in the UK -- for now -- but this GoogleMaps-based service has spy-gear written all over it. You can track someone's physical location using their mobile phone number. And it's especially useful for keeping tabs on your teenagers.

read more 

Mouseless Firefox

Lifehacker describes how to use Firefox without ever touching your mouse. If you're an old-school, keyboard-preferring user -- or you just hate moving your arm over to grab the mouse -- check it out.

read more

When Moonbats Attack

This week, Washington Post columnist Deborah Howell discovered just how open-minded and tolerant today's far-left wing of the Democratic party is. Don't the ultra-liberals among us revel in free speech, open debate, and honest dialogue? Especially when it's written in one of the mediacratic bastions -- the WaPo? Read the whole thing.™

Speaking of Moonbats

Harry Belafonte, as you may have heard, went off on another barely coherent political rant:

Entertainer Harry Belafonte, one of the Bush administration’s harshest critics, compared the national Homeland Security department to the Gestapo and attacked the president as a liar during a fiery Saturday speech.

“We’ve come to this dark time in which the Gestapo of Homeland Security lurks here, where citizens are having their rights suspended... You can be arrested and not charged, you can be arrested and have no right to counsel,” said Belafonte, who called President Bush “the greatest terrorist in the world” during a trip to Venezuela two weeks ago. Belafonte, 78, made that comment after a meeting with Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.

That would be the same Hugo Chavez accused of electoral fraud, human rights violations, political repression, and virulent anti-semitism.

After the speech, Belafonte was arrested and sentenced -- without trial -- to fifteen years at Gitmo.

The phrase "out-of-touch" isn't quite sufficient to deal with the likes of Belafonte, whose Moonbat-Blinders™ keep him sufficiently insulated from all events occurring in the real world.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Could Zonealarm be... spyware?

It appears that the ZoneAlarm Security Suite surreptitiously phones home, even when instructed to remain mute. InfoWorld Editor James Borck reports that ZA6 appears to transmit encrypted data back to four different ZoneLabs servers, even if all of the suite's communication options are disabled.

read more

Not so Hillary-ious Hijinks

Ladies and gentlement, may I present the one, the only, the countess of hypocrisy, the mistress of mendacity, the governess of gullibility...

We cannot take any option off the table in sending a clear message to the current leadership of Iran that they will not be permitted to acquire nuclear weapons," she said. "In order to prevent that from occurring, we must have more support vigorously and publicly expressed by China and Russia, and we must move as quickly as feasible for sanctions in the United Nations.

-- Hillary Clinton

Uhmmm, grarrumph, *** throat-clearing noise ***

The Russia the Senator refers to would be the same one [Clinton VP] Al Gore cut a deal with that emboldened "sales of missile and nuclear technology to Iran" and, if you believe Zbigniew Brzezinski and James Schlesinger, the sale "of highly threatening military equipment such as modern submarines, fighter planes, and wake-homing torpedoes."

...and there's also this:

Senator Clinton has accused President Bush of downplaying the threat from Iran while she has been accepting money from supporters of the Iranian regime.

Wealthy businessmen Hassan Nemazee and Faraj Aalaei are associated with the American Iranian Council, a pro-regime anti-sanctions group. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Namazee has contributed $4,000 to Clinton's reelection while Aalaei has given $1,000...

Yes, Hillary talks a hard-line -- bashing the administration -- while reportedly banking Iranian money for her campaign coffers.

There may be some sort of record for duplicity here, although the litany of questionable behavior in her husband's administration represents formidable competition.

"Rendering... nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete"

ENDGAMEThere's this:

I call upon the scientific community in our country, those who gave us nuclear weapons, to turn their great talents now to the cause of mankind and world peace, to give us the means of rendering those nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete.

-- Ronald Reagan, Address to the Nation, March 23, 1983

and then there's this:

...a group of countries, led by Israel and the U.S., had been working since 1981 on a mega-secret project to develop and deploy a weapon system that can neutralize nuclear weapons.

The highly advanced, space-deployable, BHB weapon system, code-named XXXBHB-BACAR-1318-I390MSCH, has extraordinary potential and is a key part of the West's deterrence strategy. For the past twenty-five years, the project and the scientists involved in it were kept in strict secrecy and their existence denied. The scientists rejected Nobel Physics prize and Nobel Peace prize nominations and have been
repeatedly and deliberately the subject of intense military disinformation through the media in order to divert attention from their highly secretive work...

...Although we have only limited information, it appears that Iran's rapidly developing nuclear capabilities could be neutralized and rendered obsolete, as could the capabilities of other rogue countries...

-- Thomas McInerney, Paul Vallely writing in Endgame: The Blueprint for Victory in the War on Terror

Top Ten Ronald Reagan Quips

If there was a better orator (or quipster) than Reagan, I have yet to hear him. I still get goosebumps thinking about his last major speech at the '92 GOP National Convention.

10. "Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first." —Remarks at a business conference, Los Angeles, March 2, 1977

9. "You can tell a lot about a fellow's character by his way of eating jellybeans." —The Observer, March 29, 1981

8. “Thomas Jefferson once said, "We should never judge a president by his age, only by his works.' And ever since he told me that, I stopped worrying." —Circa 1988

7. "I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency, even if I'm in a cabinet meeting." —Said often during his presidency, 1981-1989

6. "How do you tell a communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin." —Remarks in Arlington, Virginia, September 25, 1987

5. "The government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it." —Remarks to the White House Conference on Small Business, August 15, 1986

4. “I am not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself.” —Said often during his presidency, 1981-1989

3. "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." —Farewell Address to the Nation, The White House, January 11, 1989

2. "I've noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born." —The New York Times, September 22, 1980

1. "There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit." — First Inaugural Address, January 21, 1981

Human Events: Top 10 Greatest Quips from Ronald Reagan and Miscellaneous Reagan Quotes

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Mark Steyn's Prediction for Hillary

Hypocrisy and Hillary. Those two words go together like wine and cheese... Abbott and Costello... Anna Nicole Smith and "diet-pills". Now Mark Steyn casts his prediction in stark terms:

Hillary: I believe that we lost critical time in dealing with Iran, because the White House chose to downplay the threats, and to outsource the negotiations. I don't believe you face threats like Iran or North Korea by outsourcing it to others, and standing on the sidelines. We cannot, and should not, must not, permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons. In order to prevent that from occurring, we must have more support, vigorously and publicly expressed, by China and Russia, and we must move as quickly as feasible for sanctions in the United Nations.

HH: Now Mark Steyn, she says we can't outsource the negotiations, but what we need is more support from China and Russia.

MS: ...she's complaining that America outsourced the negotiations with Iran to France and Germany, instead of outsourcing them to China and Russia. You know, this is a pointless kind of oppositionism of the Democratic Party. If Bush had taken a unilateral line on Iraq. It he'd had Condi Rice going out there dealing directly with it, and saying we don't care what anybody else things, this is our position, this is what we're going to, they would have been the first to say oh, no. John Kerry would have been up there saying oh, no. You've got to get Jacques Chirac involved. It doesn't count unless the French and the Germans are on board. And the fact of the matter is, that Bush sat back here, and he let the multilateral thing go on, and the multilateral thing has failed, because essentially, these are mid-20th Century institutions that in Iran, the mullahs, think are a total joke.

HH: Now, she says we cannot, must not, let Iran have nuclear weapons. Do you think that extends, in Hillary's mind, to doing the one thing that will stop it, military action?

MS: ...She'll be in favor of Iran not having nuclear weapons until the planes start flying in and start bombing and destroying them, and the projection of American force becomes the means by which you stop Iran from having nuclear weapons. You know, at some point, the Democrats...I believe...I mean, a two party system requires two functioning, healthy parties. And this party has failed to play its part in the necessary Constitutional balance of the Republic. They've got to make some contribution to the existential challenge of the times. This is just pointless, sour oppositionism of no value whatsoever.


Gaffney on Iran

Frank Gaffney, the president of the Center For Security Policy, discusses Iran on the Hugh Hewitt program:

I think it would be very foolish to rely upon the Israelis to try to do this. It may be that they can help us in various ways, but I think this is ultimately one that will determine much of the future of the free world, not least, Hugh, because of this fact. The Shiite extremists who run Iran today, subscribe to a view of the end state, the 12th iman's arrival, a messianic moment, will be presaged, and the prerequisite for it is death and destruction on a massive scale. It is the height of folly to leave in the hands of people like those the decision as to when we will do something about this metastasizing danger in their nuclear program.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Hillary, version 3.0

Hillary Clinton, in typical, opportunistic fashion, popped up like one of the moles in the local carny's Whack-a-Mole game Wednesday. She was dispensing hawkish phrases like candy from a Pez dispenser:

...We cannot take any option off the table in sending a clear message to Iran that they will not be permitted to acquire nuclear weapons...

Translated: "I will say anything -- anything -- to pretend to be more conservative than the President on national security, since I know that the Howard Dean, anti-war left can't be counted on to win a national election."

Funny, I did a Google search on Hillary's Iran statements prior to Wednesday. Last year, for instance, on Meet the Press, she addressed Iran with all the clarity of an Anna Nicole Smith lecture on cryptography:

MR. RUSSERT: ...Senator Clinton, if Iran just refuses to stop development of their nuclear program, what do we do? ...you would not rule out a military option?

CLINTON: Well, you know, Tim, I don't think that you either rule it in or rule it out. I think that, you know, depending upon circumstances, it's something that, you know, the American government would have to, you know, consider. But, for goodness sakes, I think we are a very long way from beginning to have that conversation, if we ever have to have it.

Well, glad that's cleared up.

The prior Clinton administration's hilarious hijinks with Iran included reportedly provisioning Iranian physicists with blueprints for nuclear weapon componentry -- and that's according to James Risen of the New York Times:

In a [bizarre] scheme that was personally approved by then-President Clinton, the CIA deliberately gave Iranian physicists blueprints for part of a nuclear bomb that likely helped Tehran advance its nuclear weapons development program.

The allegation, detailed in the new book "State of War," by New York Times reporter James Risen, comes as the Iranian nuclear crisis appears to be coming to a head, with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urging that Israel be "wiped off the map" and his government announcing last week that it will resume uranium enrichment on Monday.

Reports Risen: "It's not clear who originally came up with the idea, but the plan [to give Tehran nuclear blueprints] was first approved by Clinton."

Not to worry, Bill Clinton personally assured the West just a few months ago that Iran represented no threat at all:

Ex-president Bill Clinton urged Israelis over the weekend not to overreact to comments by newly elected Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recommending that Israel be "wiped off the map."

...[Clinton] warned Israel not to act unilaterally when reacting to terrorist threats, saying that "true peace and security can only come through principled compromise."

Someone forgot to tell Hillary the Hawk.

Like previous Democratic Presidential candidates, it's getting awfully hard to track the Clintonistas' position day-to-day. For the Iraq War, against the Iraq War, no strategy on Iran, mega-hawk strategy on Iran.

If Hillary's posturing were any more transparent, you could read the paper through her at night. And the purported base of her support is none too pleased with the new, GI Jane version of Hillary. Or, as I prefer to call her, "Hillary, version 3.0"

Joe Bin Laden wants a truce

The original bad penny just turned up again, seeking a "truce". Joe Bin Laden (oops, the sheer length of his statement made me think of Windy Joe Biden at the Alito hearing) stated:

We do not mind offering you a long-term truce with fair conditions that we adhere to... We are a nation that God has forbidden to lie and cheat.

Mass murder is still permitted, however.

Bin Laden also took time to complain that President Bush is ignoring opinion polls in his handling of the war (unlike Bin Laden fave Bill Clinton):

[W]hat prompted me to speak are the repeated fallacies of your President Bush in his comment on the outcome of US opinion polls, which indicated that the overwhelming majority of you want the withdrawal of the forces from Iraq, but he objected to this desire and said that the withdrawal of troops would send the wrong message to the enemy.

...To go back to where I started, I say that the results of the poll satisfy sane people and that Bush's objection to them is false...

Translated: Stop killing us! For the love of... please withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq! We're dying out here... we're dying... stop it already!

That Bin Laden draws succor not from events in the combat theater but, instead, by opinion polls and calls for withdrawal by the American left (Murtha, et. al.) is telling. That's why the majority of Americans continue to ask the left, "whose side are you on?"

Of course, offering such a logical, straightforward argument to the left is like teaching quantum mechanics to a cow.

What Bin Laden's statement does clearly tell us is that Al Qaeda's only hope lies in convincing the American public to elect more Democrats to Congress in 2006.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Barrett Report -- Culture of Corruption

Quick: what's eleven years old and worth 23 million smackeroos? No, it's not Michael Jackson's latest play-date. Try the Barrett Report, the final deliverable of a prolonged investigation into corruption within the Clinton administration.

The New York Daily News reports that the Clinton administration actively covered up a tax fraud case against then-HUD secretary Henry Cisneros. Compounding matters, a Hillary compatriot was reportedly involved:

Cisneros was forced to admit in 1999 that he had made secret payments to a mistress before serving as Clinton's secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Barrett investigated tax fraud charges stemming from those under-the-table payments.

Then-IRS Commissioner Peggy Richardson, a close friend of Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), was involved in efforts to quash the probe, a source close to the case alleged.

But Richardson's role was cut from Barrett's report, which went through 26 drafts, because Democratic law firm Williams & Connolly successfully pressured Barrett to remove a section of the report naming her, a source said.

The Captain notes that Hillary's '06 and '08 election plans may be impacted:

The report, if the Daily News has its facts straight, will prove explosive to the 2006 re-election effort of Hillary Clinton, but even more damaging to her expected run at the Presidency in 2008. For instance, Williams and Connolly not only represents Cisneros in this probe, but also has as clients a couple named Bill and Hillary Clinton. It seems as though burying this report and getting a series of redactions helps a number of their clients out, a kind of anti-conflict of interest in this case...

...Someone has a lot of explaining to do. And while she tries to come up with an explanation, this will remind everyone what a "culture of corruption" really looks like, as this will bring up the ethical morass of the Clinton years all over again. The Democrats may well have to rethink their electoral theme for 2006 -- again.

Remember, folks. It takes a village.

What really  happened to Iraq's WMDs?

This Kenneth Timmerman article is enlightening: "Found: Saddam's WMDs." Shhhhhhh.... no one tell the mediacrats.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Some facts and predictions to make you think

From McKinsey's latest (registration required):

Total world cross-border trade as a percentage of global GDP
1990: 18%
2015 (estimated): 30%

Number of regional trade agreements
In 1990: 50
In 2005: 250

Change in Germany's population over the age of 75 from 2005 to 2015: 33%
Increase in tax burden needed to maintain current benefit levels for Germany's future generation: 90%

Change in Japan's population over the age of 75 from 2005 to 2015: 36%
Change in Japan's population under the age of 5 from 2005 to 2015: -13%
Increase in tax burden needed to maintain current benefit levels for Japan's future generation: 175%

Computational capability of an Intel processor, as measured in instructions per second
1971: 60,000
2005: 10,800,000,000

Multiple by which e-mail traffic has grown from 1997 to 2005: 215

Number of US tax returns prepared in India
2003: 25,000
2005: 400,000

Combined market cap of top 150 mega-institutions
1994: $4 trillion
2004: $11 trillion

Growth rate of the total wealth controlled by millionaires in China from 1986 to 2001: 600%
Estimated number of Chinese households to achieve European income levels by 2020 (assuming real income grows at 8 percent annually): 100 million
Total number of workers in China: 750 million
Number employed in China's state-owned companies: 375 million

Part of national GDP spent on the public sector in the United Kingdom in 2004: 20%
UK public-sector spending as a ratio of GDP when transfer payments (for example, pensions) are included: 40%

Proportion of Latin Americans who would prefer a dictator to democracy if he improved their living conditions: 50%

Muslims as a percentage of the global population
2000: 19%
2025 (estimated): 30%

Number of major violent conflicts
1991: 58
2005: 22

Number of coal-fired power plants China plans to build by 2012: 562
Estimated year China will overtake the United States as the number-one carbon emitter: 2025
Estimated year CO2 levels will hit 500 parts per million: 2050
Years since CO2 levels last hit 500 parts per million: 50 million
Average years it takes a CO2 molecule, once produced, to degrade: 100

Understatement of the Week Award

The understatement of the week award -- courtesy James Taranto -- goes to the London Sunday Telegraph for an article about Iran's nutbar president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:

Iran's dominant "Twelver" sect believes this will be Mohammed ibn Hasan, regarded as the 12th Imam, or righteous descendant of the Prophet Mohammad.

He is said to have gone into "occlusion" in the ninth century, at the age of five. His return will be preceded by cosmic chaos, war and bloodshed. After a cataclysmic confrontation with evil and darkness, the Mahdi will lead the world to an era of universal peace.

This is similar to the Christian vision of the Apocalypse. Indeed, the Hidden Imam is expected to return in the company of Jesus.

Mr Ahmadinejad appears to believe that these events are close at hand and that ordinary mortals can influence the divine timetable.

The prospect of such a man obtaining nuclear weapons is worrying.

Uhmm, yeah. "Worrying".

Windy Joe Biden's Exploding Hair

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, describing Windy Joe Biden's speechifying at the Alito hearing:

I've heard from a lot of reporters who said that when Biden started speaking, they took a break -- to go to the bathroom, get a sandwich. They took their time, because they knew that whenever they got back, he'd still be talking and they wouldn't have missed anything important... I wonder if laryngitis would be a terminal condition for him... I wonder if he could stand it if he couldn't talk. The words would just come exploding out of his hair.

Then what would become of Biden's comb-over?

Kennedy Pegs the Hypocrisy Meter

If you're not appalled, it's probably because you've been overwhelmed by the tidal wave of hypocrisy:

U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy - who ripped Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito for ties to a group that discriminates against women - says he’s going to quit a club notorious for discriminating against women "as fast as I can."

Kennedy was outed by conservatives late last week as a current member of The Owl Club, a social club for Harvard alumni that bans women from membership.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Oh, that  nutjob with nuclear missiles

The arithmetic is simple, yet terrifying. A madman preparing for the apocalypse + nuclear weapons + a blinding hatred for the United States, the U.K., and Israel. That equals the situation with Iran as it stands today. Michelle Malkin points to Clayton Cramer's net net:

I do wish that the left would get over their hatred of Bush, the Republican Party, and the United States long enough to notice that there is something a lot worse out there to be concerned about -- people and ideas that make Jerry Falwell look like an ACLU member, and Pat Robertson look sensible.

On the Hugh Hewitt program, Fred Barnes weighed in with his usual Beltway-insider-but-playing-it-close-to-the-vest take:

HH: When the cone of silence comes down around Bushies, are they talking about dealing unilaterally with Iran? Can they do so after the Democratic attack on their credibility?

FB: I think at the end of the day, they're relying on Israel to attack the nuclear facilities of the Iranians, and do enough damage to set back the nuclear program of the Iranians for five to ten years. And I think that's wrong. This is something that the big powers, namely the U.S., have to deal with. But it may be up to Israel at the end of the day.

Just like clockwork, AFP chimed in today with this somewhat chilling report:

MADRID (AFP) - Israel will not allow "a totalitarian" Iran which exports international terrorism to have a nuclear capability, Israeli President Moshe Katsav said in a newspaper interview.

"It would be the first step for atomic bombs to fall into the hands of terrorists of the (Shiite fundamentalist movement) Hezbollah, the (Islamist) Hamas or Al-Qaeda for example... We don't have a conflict of interest with Iran, we don't have a common border but we cannot allow a totalitarian country which exports international terrorism to have a nuclear capability..."

Recall, if you will, last year's news reports that the US sold Israel 100 of its GBU-28 "Bunker Busters". These 4,400 pounders can rip through twenty feet of reinforced concrete or about 100 feet of earth.

Ruh roh. Repeat after me. Oil. Futures.

The war is over, you can come out now

Funny line from John Hinderaker, writing at Powerline:

The Democrats have pretty well thrown in the towel on Judge Sam Alito, and the Washington Post has come out in favor of his confirmation. But the intrepid editorialists at the Minneapolis Star Tribune are still holding out, like post-war Japanese soldiers in the jungle.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Someone pinch me: Katie Couric blasts Senator Bombast

Hold up just a second. You say, Katie Couric hounded Senator Joe Bombast on Good Morning America? What will become of the mediacratic institutions? What will become of the children? ... the children...

RadioBlogger has a great perspective on the GMA tiff:

This morning, at 7:04AM Eastern time, Senator Biden appeared with Katie Couric on the Today Show for about eight minutes. Katie grilled Biden over the personal attacks by some on the Judiciary Committee, causing Mrs. Alito to leave the hearing yesterday in tears. Biden immediately deflects, saying he wasn't in the room when she cried, and saying the system (the hearing process into judicial nominees) has broken down.

First of all, for Joe Biden to say the system has broken down is like an arsonist coming out of a burning building with a spent match in his hands, saying wood is bad because it's flammable.

p.s., The Political Teen has the video.

Unborking the Confirmation Process

Hysterical analogy on the EIB network regarding the Alito nomination:

[The Mediacrats] don't control things anymore. They do not have the power anymore. They may think it's their birthright, but they don't have it, and they realize they can't stop this stuff. Their special interest groups, their wackos, their money, they can't stop it because they can't compete with the guys intellectually. It's not a contest...

...If you've seen the opening scene of 2001: A Space Odyssey where the apes start discovering rocks and bones and they beat the hell out of each other... The apes are the Democrats, and that obelisk that pops up out of nowhere in the middle of the ancient murk, that's Alito, and that obelisk represents wisdom... these people, they've been throwing rocks at Alito all week long, and those rocks have just been bouncing off that obelisk, boomeranging and smacking... Democrats upside the head...

Sunday, January 15, 2006

MIT Reports: The Worst Spyware Bundles

MIT's Honey-Monkeys report in: "When we first started crawling the Web looking for bad downloads last year, we weren't sure what we'd find. I can say with equal confidence that there's also plenty of train wrecks waiting to happen to your PC..."

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Stephen Hayes and the HARMONY documents

The indefatigable Stephen Hayes has latched onto the Iraqi regime's captured documents like a pit-bull on filet mignon. The documents number in the millions and -- a couple of years after their capture -- only 50,000 have been translated. Most are unclassified. Hayes has been pursuing their release for months.

Those that have been disclosed point to stunning revelations regarding pre-9/11 cooperation between Hussein and Al Qaeda. And, as you might expect, the mainstream media couldn't. care. less.

The former Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein trained thousands of radical Islamic terrorists from the region at camps in Iraq over the four years immediately preceding the U.S. invasion, according to documents and photographs recovered by the U.S. military in postwar Iraq. The existence and character of these documents has been confirmed to THE WEEKLY STANDARD by eleven U.S. government officials.

The secret training took place primarily at three camps--in Samarra, Ramadi, and Salman Pak--and was directed by elite Iraqi military units. Interviews by U.S. government interrogators with Iraqi regime officials and military leaders corroborate the documentary evidence. Many of the fighters were drawn from terrorist groups in northern Africa with close ties to al Qaeda, chief among them Algeria's GSPC and the Sudanese Islamic Army. Some 2,000 terrorists were trained at these Iraqi camps each year from 1999 to 2002, putting the total number at or above 8,000...

...It exposes the flawed assumptions of the experts and U.S. intelligence officials who told us for years that a secularist like Saddam Hussein would never work with Islamic radicals...

...Ansar al Islam, the al Qaeda-linked terrorist group that operated in northern Iraq, the former high-ranking military intelligence officer says: "There is no question about the fact that AI had reach into Baghdad. There was an intelligence connection between that group and the regime, a financial connection between that group and the regime, and there was an equipment connection..."

Drink deeply from the chalice of wisdom and read the whole thing.

Iran and our uncomfortable options

A single sentence from Victor Davis Hanson's latest is all I need to entice you to read the whole thing.

If Iran can play brinkmanship now on just the promise of nuclear weapons, imagine its roguery to come when it is replete with them.

Jack LaLanne Quotes

Fitness godfather Jack LaLanne turned 91 a few months ago and, in honor of the occasion, I've collected some of his more noteworthy quotes.

LaLanne at 81:

"Coaches told some of the pro athletes who wanted to come to me to stay away or they'd get thrown off the team. They said I'd make athletes muscle-bound. One time... it was during World War II, I took the entire University of California football team out to the sand dunes near Cliff House in San Francisco. I grabbed the heaviest guy and put him on my back, and I ran up the dunes. Then I made each of them do it. Nearly killed them! They were heavin' all over the place!"

"I train like I'm training for the Olympics or for a Mr. America contest, the way I've always trained my whole life. You see, life is a battlefield. Life is survival of the fittest... How many healthy people do you know? How many happy people do you know? Think about it. People work at dying, they don't work at living. My workout is my obligation to life. It's my tranquilizer. It's part of the way I tell the truth--and telling the truth is what's kept me going all these years."

"Have you seen some of the crap they're selling as exercise equipment now? ...How about that Suzanne Somers? She should have been thrown in jail for selling the piece-of-crap Thigh Master. It just develops a little muscle on the inner thigh. What good is that? And have you seen Tony Little, the guy who screams on TV? He's like an imbecile. He says you need this little thing to hold you while you do a sit-up. Why does the government let him get away with it?"

"You seen my new book? It's a very understandable book, because the average person has an IQ of about two."

"My speaking career is just huge, and I have plans to do some soups and salad dressings for Hunt and Wesson. Jake just called me about doing something with him and Jane Fonda. Everybody wants me for something. It's making it hard to find enough time to train for the 20-mile underwater swim."

"Don't talk age! Age has nothing to do with it. One of my guys who started out at my gym is 87 now, and he still does ten bench-press reps with a hundred-pound dumbbell in each hand. He's training to set a leg-pressing record. I put things in the guy's brain way back when, and now he'll never get away from it."

LaLanne at 84:

"Thoughts are things. Negativity is what kills you... It's tough to do, but you've got to work at living, you know? Most people work at dying, but anybody can die; the easiest thing on this earth is to die. But to live takes guts; it takes energy, vitality, it takes thought. . . . We have so many negative influences out there that are pulling us down. . . . You've got to be strong to overcome these adversities . . . that's why I never stop."

"...most Americans these days—they want to overeat, overdrink, smoke and not exercise, and then they go to the doctor saying, "Give me a magic shot, doctor, so I can feel better and look better." They all want that, but as I said, there is a price to pay. Living is tough, it's hard, and most people, especially religious people, spend too much time on their spirituality, hoping that this spiritual thing is going to do something for them. It doesn't work that way!"

"When I opened my first official health club in 1936, I'd go to Oakland High School at noontime. I'd pick out the fattest kid I could find, and I'd get his phone number and his address and his name, and I'd pick out the skinniest kid I could find, and get his phone number, his address and his name. I'd go to fifty kids' homes, and I'd sign up fifty out of fifty—I never missed. I'd tell their parents, "I'm going to save this kid's life, he's going to have the greatest life anybody can have, and if he doesn't sign up, he's going to miss out on it." Then I'd tell those kids, "If you wear clean clothes, you're not going to be a follower, you're going to be a leader. I want you to cut your hair, I want those clothes to be neat and clean, and if you get lower than a C grade in school, you're OUT." Come to think of it, I was their guru—I was their mother, their father, their best friend, their everything. I knew about their sex life, about how much money they spent, their aches and pains and all their problems. They came to me, I was their consultant, and we were family. And I worked those kids, I'll tell you you wouldn't believe it. It's a wonder some of them didn't die!

So that's how I get my reward. Can you put a price on a life? If you can save somebody's life, get that person to reduce their weight or get these older people working out, well, look what you've done—you've saved a life, the most precious thing there is!"

"Now a lot of people say, "Oh, I don't have the time." Or, "Oh, but I don't like it, Jack." But you know, I try to get to the gym by five in the morning, and I work out for two hours. To leave a hot bed and a hot woman to go to a cold gym—now that's dedication! And I've never heard this once—knock, knock, knock on the window in my gym: "Jack, this is Jesus, I'll work out for you today!""

LaLanne at 90:

"I get so ticked off. People are so misinformed these days. They tell you to eat no starch, no fats, to sell a diet, to make money. Where can you get a better food than nuts and grains? ...Would you give your dog a cigarette and a doughnut for breakfast every morning? People think nothing of giving themselves that for breakfast, and they wonder why they don't feel good."

"The average person who is 70 or 80 is over the hill... They're fat, they're racked with aches and pains. Then you get people over 90 who are running marathons, because they worked at living. I have a lot of energy and you know why? Because I use it. It's use it or lose it, and it's believing in something. Most people just go through life existing, waiting for retirement. That's the death knell."

"If you can't afford a half hour three or four times a week taking care of the most priceless possession, your body, you've got to be sick. You're stupid."

"It's a pain in the backside. I hate to work out. I hate it but I like the results."

LaLanne at 91:

"My whole career, doctors and so-called experts called me a crackpot and charlatan... But I was right."

"I train two hours every day. I do an hour and a half of weight training, then maybe a swim or a walk. I like change. I change my program every 30 days. You know, you get bored. The only thing I don't change is my wife."

"Sitting around on your big fat gluteus maximus talking about the good old days. The good old days are right this second. You've got to exercise VIG-OR-OUSLY! Life is tough. Life is a challenge. Life is a battlefield... . Life is an athletic event, and you must train for it."

"It is unconscionable what's being done to kids. It's a sin. Kids have to be taught to have pride and discipline. Exercise has to be compulsory. What's a good education and making good money if you don't have your health?"

"If man makes it, I don't eat it. I practice what I preach. I eat 10 raw vegetables, 5 pieces of fruit, egg whites and fish for protein, and whole grains. Finally, if you can't have a sense of humor, you're dead."

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Video of the most powerful bomb ever constructed

The device was code-named "Ivan"; it was a multi-stage hydrogen bomb built in only fifteen weeks by engineers in the USSR, using off-the-shelf nuclear weapon components. It was detonated over the island of Novaya Zemlya in the Arctic Sea...

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Jack Bauer's Gun-handling Skills

The ever-entertaining MassBackwards notes that Jack Bauer's gun-handling skills have improved dramatically since the show's pilot.

Folks, you just can't make this stuff up

Ted Kennedy is releasing his own children's book:

Meet the latest children’s author, Sen. Ted Kennedy, and his Portuguese Water Dog, Splash, his co-protagonist in “My Senator and Me: A Dogs-Eye View of Washington, D.C.” Scholastic Inc. will release the book in May.

Bloggers throughout the world have proposed titles for the book and The Lone Star Times even has a draft of the cover. Some of the suggested titles (and, no, none of them are mine) include:

"A toast to man’s best friend"
"It Takes a Car Bridge"
"Mary Jo and Ted's Excellent Adventure"
"Driving Ms. Teddy"
"Ted Swift and His Amazing Flying Car Boat"
"The cow jumped over the moonbat"

Too harsh? Note that Kennedy has -- in real life -- named his dog "Splash". Mary Jo Kopechne remained unavailable for comment.

Brain Calisthenics

Time Magazine features some mental exercises to keep the brain young. Don't hurt yourself.

This machine is a web server: do not power it down

The very first web server.

Getting GM up and fighting

Gregg Bresner has some ideas for the American automotive industry: how it can both recover from its catastrophic slide and help fight the war on terror.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Google to control all TV Advertising?

Fascinating speculation by Robert X. Cringely on the future of Google in the world of IPTV. The telcos and cable companies are probably quiverying in fear contemplating a world where Google controls all marketing data. And for good reason. Just ignore the yelling (capital letters). It's still worth a long, careful read.


Google is going to let the telco and cable companies burn their capital building out IP-TV, knowing that Google will still be the only game in town for the crux of the whole thing: the ability to show every viewer the specific ads that companies will pay the most to show him at that specific moment. What Google wants to do with these trailers is SERVE EVERY TV COMMERCIAL ON THE PLANET because only they will be able to do it efficiently. Only they will have the database that converts those IP addresses into sales leads...

...You're puttering in your home office around 6pm when you hear your wife call out from the living room where she's watching CNN. She says she'd rather not cook tonight -- how about going out for Italian and a movie? You Google movie showtimes and restaurants, print out a list of what's playing, and a map to Antonio's, and walk out into the living room just as Wolf Blitzer is throwing to commercial...

Guess what the commercials are? Yep -- nothing but movie and local restaurant ads, with special "code words" to give at the box office and restaurant for steep discounts, good that night only. And it seems a new Italian place just opened up in town, and their commercial is hammering away at a recent review they got that said that they're so much better than that cheesy Antonio's dump it's not even funny. And it's half-off for new customers, tonight only!

...Google will cut a deal with every network to customize their ad spots for every viewer. For a small cut of their ad revenues, Google will handle all customization costs, hardware and software. The networks will all go along because the customized ads will be so much more profitable that it would make no sense for any network to refuse.

In a similar vein, check out ordering pizza in the year 2010. Funny and terrifying.