Friday, January 05, 2007

Customer Service
I am not surprised by most of the companies on this list, especially by the worst offenders. Either my wife or I have personally had some of these problems with Dell, Home Depot, Comcast, Macy's, and AT&T Wireless (pity anyone who was a Cingular "blue" customer).

Do We Have the Energy?
Hopefully, this (hat-tip to Greg Mankiw) coupled with this, means that our economy will survive when Saudi Arabia and Iran ignite the Middle East in their battle for the Caliphate.

Of course, I support a Pigovian Tax (check out Prof Mankiw's Pigou Club) as opposed to tighter CAFE standards.

F'ed Up Fridays - VI
Wait a minute. Microsoft contracted the French to develop a mobile version of Halo? Are we supposed to be surprised that they gave up and sued Microsoft instead of getting it done?

Gmail: "Never delete email again... we'll do it for you!!"

WaPo describes this piece as "The Ford Funeral: Episcopal analysts offered insight on the service." Episcopal analysts?

The FAA is in league with aliens.

GM may be in trouble, but GM is starting to show some real promise.

The news source I love to hate gives us yet another reason to laugh.

When I was on my way to my drivers' license exam, I saw a woman sitting in traffic simultaneously reading the paper, applying lipstick, and holding a cup of coffee. Imagine what she could do with this.

So, tell me why New York had to ban the stuff? It looks to me like market demands are working just fine. And since they're making the change in half their stores, you'll never have to go more than half a block if you go into the wrong one.

Someday people will get the message: free markets work.

George Lucas announces that he is completely out of new ideas.

Interesting. Being gay is now a right afforded to sheep. I'm not even really sure what to think about that. Or about the scientists who prompted the debate. What if the ram wants to be straight—is PETA going to intervene on his behalf?

This is cool, but do we really want to encourage people to specialize their knowledge further than we already do? There is, after all some merit to a liberal arts education.

The obvious question is: how many of these also have Kerry/Edwards stickers on the back?

Would you do this?

Obviously, these school officials have never seen Ferris Bueller, or they wouldn't have been quite so "shocked."

Possibly the best headline ever.

Now this is up-to-date news.

New, from the AP: fit the news to whatever conclusion you prefer.

Another newsflash! And Forbes takes a study about high schoolers and applies it to college students. Brilliant.

What about those of us with normal blood pressure?

In other news, bars will now sell gloves and sunglasses.

They denied that she was drunk, but they didn't say anything about drugs...

Ask me sometime, and maybe I'll tell you how a law like this one quite possibly kept me out of a Mississippi jail once.


Makes sense to me.

Can anyone say Red Dawn?

Okay, now that's f'ed up.

Remember Bernardo Lebron? Well I'm still not surprised.

Personally, I like having my laptop with me, but this is still cool.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Saddam's Demise
It was a Happy New Year in Iraq for the Shiite majority that suffered so long under such a horrific dictator.

In fact, it would seem that it was such a joyous occasion that guards decided they could not contain their excitement and started chanting.

Were they chanting "Freedom!" like William Wallace? "Vive Iraq?" "Justice?".

Nope, they chanted "Muqtada! Muqtada! Muqtada!" and "Straight to hell,"

It would seem that even those entrusted with what should have been the most solemn duty performed by the nascent Iraqi government so far, could not help but taint the event with their jubilent support for a new strong man.

I would really like to agree with Joe Lieberman that additional troops could stabilize the country, but events like this make me doubt the likelihood that more infantry can make a difference. I think we have lost the hearts and minds of the Iraqis to Sadr and his ilk.

Dean Barnett seems to agree that this event was a stain on the effort in Iraq. He observes

"Perhaps a more pressing concern today is whether in fact Iraq is different. Things like the Saddam execution suggest the answer to the latter question is no. There is a deep undercurrent of savagery in the Iraqi culture that will not just inhibit the growth of a peaceful democracy there, but probably prohibit it."

Mr. Barnett's solution is to stamp out those who perpetuate the chaos:
The only answer, as it always has been, is to stamp out that savagery ferociously and totally. At the end of this war, Iraq must necessarily be composed of people who always wanted to live in peace and the one-time enemies of peace who have come to realize they have no other choice but to live in peace. How much killing will this take? That will depend on how many enemies of peace there are and how determined they are to live in a state of war. One thing's for certain - the more resolute we are, the less killing there will be.
I have three fears however:

1)No matter "how resolute we are," we can never deter the savage elements of Iraqi society from killing. These are not Soviet politicians who fear losing their jobs or even their lives. These viscious terrorists thrive on the conflict, not the vicotry, and welcome martyrdom.

2)The American people will never sign up to the mass killings of both Shia and Sunnis that it would take to truly stamp out the sectarian violence. Consider the purges that Saddam himself carried out, and he never truly eliminated his Shiite opponents. He only sent them into hiding. Even if we could create that kind of stalemate, we can never sustain the ferocity and terror necessary to maintain it.

3)The more aggressive we get in battling groups like the Mahdi Army, the more powerful they will become. The violence that we would need to unleash may just turn more of the population against us and into the arms of strongmen like Sadr and their neighbors like Iran and Syria.

I hope and pray that I'm wrong, but it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when events like Saddam's execution which should be positive developments turn so sour.