Friday, January 26, 2007

F'ed Up Fridays - IX

Warning: Microsoft Office Vista may induce ranting blog posts when it is first used by this blogger.

I'm with the Internet poster.

In a word: no.

I'm with Spann. Luckily, I'm not the only one.

Wah, wah, wah. Yes, being wealthy enough to buy whatever drugs you want, and being dumb enough to do it, will likely alter your brain chemistry enough to cause depression.

For my money, the top of the list is a robot I read about in Popular Science. Get this: cut off a limb, and the thing figures out its new body shape and how to ambulate most effectively. Yes, that's right: unstoppable robots with enough artificial intelligence to keep coming after you. What's next, robots that can smell? Oh, wait.

And even our new ray gun weapons won't take them out, because they can't "feel" anything.

New on the Nintendo Wii: digital shuffleboard!

Voter fraud has never been easier. I suppose it could be worse, though.

Anyone else think this is a a little weird?

If they want to get an entire subway map on there, they'd better make it a magnum.

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Sorry folks, another short one without pictures this week. I'll be back soon enough, I promise. In the meantime, don't forget to email me your own submissions for FuF!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Sunni vs Shia

From Strategy Page:

The removal of Saddam has already crippled al Qaeda throughout the Islamic world. The sight of American troops in Iraq enraged al Qaeda, and Islamic radicals in general. This was the one thing these maniacs could not tolerate. They all flocked to Iraq, began killing lots of Moslems, and after a year or so of that, plummeted in the popularity ratings throughout the Moslem world. Now the Saudis are mobilizing against that other terrorist backer; Iran. The Saudis are committing over $100 billion to this battle, and doing it out of the purest of motives; self interest.
I think this raises a few questions:
1) If this is true, has "crippl[ing] al Qaeda throughout the Islamic world" been worth the US blood and treasure in Iraq?
2) Is it good or bad for America that the Saudis (through their proxies) and the Iranians are gearing up for a battle royale over dominance of Islam? (The President said he thinks it's bad in the SotU the other night)
3a) If you say "good" for #2, do we pick a side or step out of the way?
3b) If you say "bad" for #2, can we stop it? How?

Worst Buy

From today's Bleat:
"I’ve had days at BestBuy where everyone knew everything. This was not one of them."

It's been a long time since I've had one of those days. God help Mr. Lileks if he realizes that the device he bought doesn't fit his needs and he wants to return it.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

SotU Reaction

I had considered live-blogging the State of the Union speech last night, but came to two conclusions. First, not enough people read this site to make that worthwhile, and second, I wanted to pay better attention than typing quick reactions would allow me. Instead, I'll try to give my impressions now that I've been able to sleep on it.

1) Energy
I think Bush's proposed policies are good first steps that are 7 SotU's over-due. I think that energy policy needs to be the cornerstone of the next President's platform. It has dramatic economic, foreign policy, national security, and environmental implications.

Two policies that I would have liked to have heard him support, but of course knew he wouldn't are a Pigovian Tax, and a federally sponsored X-Prize for clean energy technologies.

2) Education
Honestly, I have a hard time getting excited about No Child Left Behind. Reauthorize it, don't reauthorize it... doesn't really matter to me. It was nice to hear him mention vouchers, but that won't go anywhere.

Why doesn't anyone ever call them "scholarships"? Could the Democrats really oppose scholarships to needy children to attend better schools? The term "vouchers" is too distant from what they really are.

3) Healthcare
Greg Mankiw and Arnold Kling have both commented on Bush's plan since he announced it over the weekend. They are far more knowledgeable than I, but from what I can gather it sounds like a fairly decent plan. You should note, I say that as an employee of one of the largest corporations in the world, with a fairly gold-plated health care plan (which means that my tax bill would likely increase... I've now expressed support for two tax increases in one post, I must be running a fever).

I think Bush will need to line up as many economists and healthcare experts as he can and shove the Democrats' "knee-jerk" complaints back in their faces. This is not some huge new tax burden on the middle class. If anything, this seems fairly progressive (hat-tip Prof Mankiw).

If the Democrats can't get on-board with this, then they truly have no interest in trying to reform anything. This is their chance to embrace the bi-partisanship they keep crowing about and make a positive change for the future prosperity of the country. This plan has it all: Market forces and personal savings accounts for conservatives and progressive taxes for liberals.

4)The War on Terror & Iraq
Despite the fact that this was obviously the most important issue discussed last night, I don't have much to contribute here other than to echo some of what has already been written elsewhere.

I liked the line about no one voting for failure and the request that Congress give his new strategy a chance to succeed.

I think he did a masterful job (ok, so maybe expectations were low) of laying out the Iraq war in the context of the global struggle against Islamofascism. I especially liked the paralellism of the 2005 successes and the 2006 terrorist responses. Let's hope we can respond even more forcefully in 2007.

I agreed with his assesment that pulling out of Iraq is likely to leave behind a bloody and chaotic battle between Sunnis and Shiites that will drag in their supporters from all over the Arab world. I would have liked, however, and explanation of WHY that would be a disaster for America. As I've noted in the past, I'm skeptical that such a war would be all bad for the United States. Obviously the consequences of oil disruption are very negative (see SotU point #1 above), but if the various Sunni and Shiite factions are consumed in a tribal war, they are less likely to be focused on ways to kill Americans or wipe Israel off the map.

However, per the President's request, I am willing to give General Petraeus the opportunity to try to stem the violence and give the nascent Iraqi government a more fertile environment in which to grow.

I also find the notion of the non-binding resolution to whine about the President's plan in Iraq or the NBRWPPI (pronounced "nibrippi") childish. Anyone who votes for that resolution sure as hell better have their own proposal ready to go.

5)The Gallery Heroes
Cheers to all of them, especially Wesley Autrey.

A Secret Identity Revealed

For those who have always wondered, The Man is, in fact, John Kerry.

Think about it. They both quit on the same day. Their ramblings never make much sense, but induce large amounts of laughter. And they both wish they were as cool as Jack Bauer.

Oh, and they both wear hats.

For serious, though, we'll miss The Man.

Fooling Themselves

It seems that a liberal who had been posting at RedState was banned recently. He describes on DailyKos why he thinks this is a sad turn of events, and how much he thinks RedState has changed.

Now, I don't visit RedState, so I have no intention of defending that site.

But take a moment to read through some of the comments in and in response to the post linked above&8212;hilarious. It is indeed sad if RedState has gone from being an open environment to one of partisan enforcement, but it's laughable that DailyKos commenters are criticizing RedState for that alleged transition.

DailyKos has always been about browbeating its members into a one-dimensional world view. The "debate" found there ranges from the extreme left to the extreme extreme left. Remember, I'm speaking here as a conservative who used to post to DailyKos so that two sides of political ideology could engage in a civilized manner—and who was subsequently banned for attempting to explain that the justification for the Iraq War went beyond WMD.

Ridiculous.

Kudos to NPR

I know what you're thinking: "has he lost his mind?"

Yes, if I'm mentioning NPR, I'm usually ripping them on bias, or incomplete coverage, or just flat out inaccuracy. For once, however, I think they did something good.

Allow me to set the stage. Instapundit quotes a reader who says:

Jim Webb told the Air America/Randi Rhodes lie that the majority of the military doesn’t support the effort.

So once again, it seems Democrats get to lie without consequence or question.
Well, NPR did a little better than we might have expected.

What Webb actually said (my transcription from the audio available at the link above, 7:17 in) was:
The majority of the nation no longer supports this wa—the way this war is being fought. Nor does the majority of our military. Nor does the majority of Congress.
NPR says
The middle item in that series raises the question of whether the military really does not support the way the war is being fought.
and then goes on to say that the statistic is most likely based on a poll in the Military Times newspapers from December, which claims that in 2004 2/3 of respondents supported the handling of the war, and that it is now down to 1/3. They even concluded by saying that Webb's quote was a bit of a stretch.

I can't believe it myself, but I think NPR did a decent job on this one. They did pretty much just excuse the statement as a stretch, rather than saying the truth, which is that it's almost an outright fabrication—but they could have much more easily ignored the quote and glossed over it entirely.