Archive for January, 2005

Hiatus

Tuesday, January 18th, 2005

I am taking a short break –

Dick has the story on the blog party – an enjoyable night nonetheless!

Returned

Monday, January 17th, 2005

I have returned to the blogosphere, more soon.

Blog Party

Saturday, January 15th, 2005

Hope to see you all there – I should get there for about 5pm…

Market Bar
Fade Street
Dublin

On grieving

Friday, January 14th, 2005

A fellow blogger has lost a friend – nothing I can add.

Posting hiatus

Thursday, January 13th, 2005

Posts will be light over the coming days…and should return to normal after the blog do on Saturday!

Irish Bloggers Party…

Wednesday, January 12th, 2005

I am not sure how well publicised this event is, but following the comments received it seems best to go for the 15th. Unfortunately this means that Mick, Barry and Treasa will not be there – but I hope blog get togethers like this become more frequent than bi-annual.

As for venue I suggest the Market Bar, Dublin, Ireland, like last time, it has Wifi for those of you who want to use it, and no music for those of us who want to chat about blogging, oh and it has a BAR too, for those of you who might want to get sloshed (like me). I did get the yellow jersey last time, so who can beat me this time? Shall we say around 7? Email me if you need a contact number, if you don’t know anyone personally!

The Market Bar is located off George’s Street on Fade Street, just down from Hogan’s. It’s the red brick building.

How many takers? Please leave a comment or drop me mail, so we can have an idea of numbers…

Update: I’ve sent out a bunch of mails to all the Irish bloggers I could find, and I know I’ve missed some – if you know anyone who might be interested let them know, everyone is welcome, including the couple of readers who drop by! :-)

MT 3.14

Monday, January 10th, 2005

I spent the evening having a good look round a test installation of Movable Type 3.14. It is a much cleaner version than 2.661, and seems to have much better features. WordPress meanwhile is on its way from 1.2.2 to 1.5.

Vintage Wolfowitz

Sunday, January 9th, 2005

Kevin Drum points to some statements Paul Wolfowitz made in the lead up to the war in Iraq. Among them:

Mr. Wolfowitz…opened a two-front war of words on Capitol Hill, calling the recent estimate by Gen. Eric K. Shinseki of the Army that several hundred thousand troops would be needed in postwar Iraq, “wildly off the mark.” Pentagon officials have put the figure closer to 100,000 troops.

….In his testimony, Mr. Wolfowitz ticked off several reasons why he believed a much smaller coalition peacekeeping force than General Shinseki envisioned would be sufficient to police and rebuild postwar Iraq. He said there was no history of ethnic strife in Iraq, as there was in Bosnia or Kosovo.

He said Iraqi civilians would welcome an American-led liberation force that “stayed as long as necessary but left as soon as possible,” but would oppose a long-term occupation force. And he said that nations that oppose war with Iraq would likely sign up to help rebuild it. “I would expect that even countries like France will have a strong interest in assisting Iraq in reconstruction,” Mr. Wolfowitz said. He added that many Iraqi expatriates would likely return home to help.

….Enlisting countries to help to pay for this war and its aftermath would take more time, he said. “I expect we will get a lot of mitigation, but it will be easier after the fact than before the fact,” Mr. Wolfowitz said. Mr. Wolfowitz spent much of the hearing knocking down published estimates of the costs of war and rebuilding, saying the upper range of $95 billion was too high….Moreover, he said such estimates, and speculation that postwar reconstruction costs could climb even higher, ignored the fact that Iraq is a wealthy country, with annual oil exports worth $15 billion to $20 billion. “To assume we’re going to pay for it all is just wrong,” he said.

Fighting the Wrong War

Sunday, January 9th, 2005

Fred Kagan in the Weekly Standard on why Rumsfeld must go:

With more troops in Iraq during and immediately after the war, we would have been able to do the following things that we did not do:

* Capture or kill thousands of Iraqi soldiers who were at that time still concentrated in combat units and had not yet melted back into the countryside with their weapons and their skills.

* Guard the scores of enormous ammunition dumps from which the insurgents have drawn the vast majority of their weapons, ammunition, and explosives.

* Secure critical oil and electrical infrastructure that the insurgents subsequently attacked, setting back the economic and political recovery of Iraq.

* Prevent the development of insurgent safe havens in Najaf and Falluja, or at least disrupt them at a much earlier stage of formation.

* Work to interdict the infiltration of foreign fighters across Iraq’s borders.

If the U.S. Army had begun expanding in 2001, we would have been able to:

* Establish reasonable rotation plans for our soldiers that did not require repeatedly extending tours of duty beyond one year.

* Avoid the need to activate reservists involuntarily.

* Dramatically reduce the frequency with which soldiers return from one year-long tour only to be sent immediately on another.

* Let the troops that would still have been overstrained know that help really was on the way.

The U.S. military did not do these things because of Rumsfeld’s choices. He chose to protect a military transformation program that is designed to fight wars radically different from the one in which we are engaged. He chose to protect Air Force and Navy programs that are far less urgent and under far less strain during the current crisis rather than augmenting the service carrying the lion’s share of the load. He chose to focus on high-tech weapons technologies that are virtually useless to the troops now in Iraq rather than providing them sooner with the basic requirements of their current mission–including armored Humvees, body armor, and a regular complement of armored vehicles. Even the deployment of Stryker light armored vehicles, which many now tout as a major contribution to the fighting in Iraq, was not Rumsfeld’s initiative, but that of General Eric Shinseki. Shinseki was the Army chief of staff whom Rumsfeld drove out of office, partly for correctly predicting that Operation Iraqi Freedom would require more than the handful of units that Rumsfeld and his staff were willing to send.

It is not that Rumsfeld’s decisions were without a rationale. The secretary of defense simply chose to prioritize preparing America’s military for future conventional conflict rather than for the current mission. That position, based on the hope that the current mission would be of short duration and the recognition that the future may arrive at any moment, is understandable. It just turns out to have been wrong.

Update: Kevin Drum offers his two cents, Andrew Sullivan does the same

So you want to influence public opinion…

Thursday, January 6th, 2005

Dan Drezner has a break down of the publications that influence opinion…Foreign Affairs tops the poll. I always enjoy reading it, though the cover price is a bit steep. The top 10 are:

Foreign Affairs
CQ Weekly
The New York Times
The Wall Street Journal
The Economist
Harvard Business Review
The Washington Post
The New York Times Sunday Edition
The New England Journal of Medicine
Science

Friedman on Iraq

Thursday, January 6th, 2005

[via Insta} Tom Friedman answers my questions about Iraqis getting plain tired of terrorism.

It needs to be clear that these so-called insurgents are not fighting to liberate Iraq from America, but rather to reassert the tyranny of a Sunni-Baathist minority over the majority there. The insurgents are clearly desperate that they not be cast as fighting a democratically elected Iraqi government – which is why they are desperately trying to scuttle the elections. After all, if all they wanted was their fair share of the pie, and nothing more, they would be taking part in the elections.

We cannot liberate Iraq, and never could. Only Iraqis can liberate themselves, by first forging a social contract for sharing power and then having the will to go out and defend that compact against the minorities who will try to resist it. Elections are necessary for that process to unfold, but not sufficient. There has to be the will – among Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds – to forge that equitable social contract and then fight for it.

In short, we need these elections in Iraq to see if there really is a self-governing community there ready, and willing, to liberate itself – both from Iraq’s old regime and from us. The answer to this question is not self-evident. This was always a shot in the dark – but one that I would argue was morally and strategically worth trying.

Because if it is impossible for the peoples of even one Arab state to voluntarily organize themselves around a social contract for democratic life, then we are looking at dictators and kings ruling this region as far as the eye can see. And that will guarantee that this region will be a cauldron of oil-financed pathologies and terrorism for the rest of our lives.

Sims 2 hilariously hacked

Thursday, January 6th, 2005

Looks like Sims 2 has been hit with a semi-virus, right under the noses of EA.Sims are suddenly comfortable with open relationships, and the social worker no longer cares how they treat their children

Entire neighborhoods of Sims are being mysteriously graced with eternal youth, while some characters are finding all their needs fulfilled by a single shot of magic espresso. Others no longer need to empty the toilet after potty training their toddler. Some Sims are being abducted by aliens when they glance through their telescope — every time, instead of just occasionally, which is normal.

Holidays and vacations

Thursday, January 6th, 2005

Treasa adds her two cents

I believe a lot of people work longer hours to look good. I’ve past experience of that too.

I really need to simmer down because ultimately, this doesn’t really matter. I don’t work in America, I don’t want to work in America. I can just about cope with the fact that trouble shooting a problem with them is almost unbearable, because they don’t know their network but they expect me to know their network. Meanwhile, I’ll just calculate how many days annual leave I’ll need to use for my exams, cos I don’t get exam or study leave for this Masters relevant to my job I am doing part time.

Intelligent “Daily Show” watchers

Thursday, January 6th, 2005

I do wish I had satellite sometimes – but I do enjoy watching the Daily Show when I get a torrent or something…of course I’m just saying that because of these figures…

With vulgar fare such as The Man Show, South Park, and Reno 911!, the cable network Comedy Central has earned a reputation for pandering to the Rabelaisian tastes of slackers, stoners, and frat boys. But is that reputation deserved? The Annenberg Public Policy Center set out to answer this question by comparing viewers of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show with those of David Letterman’s and Jay Leno’s (relatively) staid offerings. The findings are surprising. To be sure, Stewart’s viewers are much younger and much more heavily male than his late-night competitors’. But they are also wealthier and better educated: 30 percent have annual household incomes above $75,000, compared with only 25 percent of Letterman’s and Leno’s viewers. Some 39 percent of The Daily Show’s viewers have college degrees, compared with only 29 percent of Letterman’s and 27 percent of Leno’s. In a perhaps not unrelated finding Annenberg discovered that Stewart’s audience is also more politically aware: 46 percent of Daily Show watchers follow politics “most of the time,” versus 38 percent of Letterman watchers and 39 percent of Leno watchers. And when the researchers asked respondents six questions about contemporary politics, Stewart viewers on average answered 60 percent of them correctly; Leno and Letterman viewers on average answered only 49 percent correctly.

“Moral Hazard” on the Road

Thursday, January 6th, 2005

Can insurance be related to a rise in traffic deaths? A study by Alma Cohen and Rajeev Dehejia is worth a look. This is interesting for Irish readers who pay exorbitant rates, things are done differently in other countries…


To the roll of highway perilsódrunks, cell phones, teenagersócan be added one more: the insured. A new study suggests that requiring insurance coverage may lead drivers to take a cavalier attitude toward road safety. Economists from Columbia University and Harvard Law School’s Olin Center for Law, Economics, and Business examined the effects of the compulsory-insurance laws and no-fault insurance systems that were gradually adopted in the United States from 1970 to 1998. (Under no-fault systems each driver’s insurance pays for the damages that he or she inflicts, though all states give drivers some exposure to lawsuits for negligence. Under older, fault-based systems, the at-fault driver pays all the damages.) Forty-five states now have compulsory insurance, and fourteen have no-fault systems. The researchers found that relaxation of liability is correlated with a 10 percent increase in traffic deaths (or about 4,000 dead travelers a year). Uninsured drivers tend to drive more carefully (after all, they themselves have to pay for accidents): for every one percent decrease in the number of uninsured drivers, the number of fatalities increases by two percent. Despite the “moral hazard” posed by insurance, the authors concede that compulsory and no-fault systems aren’t all bad: though more people may die, the victims’ families are far better remunerated than in the past.