Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Brand recognition

You know a product has a bad PR problem when they have to resort to ads like this. What do people think of Vista when they don't know it's Vista? I decided to click and "Find out."

The ad takes you to which, by the way, takes forever to load, but maybe that's by design just for Firefox users. The "experiment" is one in which Microsoft appears to be conducting a focus group study of Windows Vista, asking the average Joe what they think of Vista. The responses range from "It sucks more than anything has ever sucked before" to one lady who only grunted then gouged her own eyes out. I kid, I kid. Suffice it to say, though, that the responses are uniformly negative.

The ad then shows the same people trying out a "new" version of Windows, which they're told is called "Mojave". After waxing rhapsodic over how great "Mojave" is, they're told it's really Vista. Ooh, "you got me!", as one man sheepishly remarks.

I think the biggest problem Microsoft has with Vista is the heavy-handed way they're forcing people into it. Have you tried getting a copy of XP lately? Lotsa luck with that. And then, there are so many different flavors of Vista, who the hell knows which one is best for them? Not to mention the price.

And if you're resurrecting an older - but still perfectly usable - hardware platform, you can forget about Vista. I had a six year old laptop and a desktop system of about the same age which I had returned to service here at home, and when I found that only the latest hardware would support Vista and I couldn't get a legit copy of XP anywhere, I went with Ubuntu Linux for both of those machines.

Update: My brother Mark (who at this point may as well be a co-blogger interested, Mark?) tipped me to an article on the "Mojave Experiment": Dissecting Microsoft's Mojave Experiment

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The smog olympics

Not fog...filthy air

The Olympic games in Beijing are just days away, and Chinese officials are resorting to drastic measures to clear up the air. They're also resorting to some fairly amusing rhetoric to allay peoples' fears.
It is only a week since the government introduced an odd-even number plate system which bars more than one million of Beijing's 1.3 million passenger cars from the streets. Now the government is considering banning 90 per cent of private cars and closing more factories as a last-ditch attempt clear the skies before the games start on 8 August. Beijing has already spent 120bn yuan (£8.9bn) on tackling the pollution, to no avail.
In trying to convince the world that the air will be safe for athletes and other visitors, the authorities are issuing statements and rules that could only be vomited up by a commie bureaucracy:
"The air quality in Beijing during the Olympic Games will not affect the health of athletes," said Du Shaozhong, deputy director of Beijing's Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau, the man charged with soothing fears that the Games may be a smoggy event. [Note that he's not actually charged with doing anything about the air quality. --ed.] Athletes planning to bring respirators were only adding unnecessarily to their baggage weight, said Mr Du, who emphasised that the figures showed the air quality was improving: "A blue sky doesn't mean the air quality is good. If you take a shower, you can't see clearly because of the steam, but it doesn't mean it's pollution."

"We can guarantee a good environment for athletes. The International Olympic Committee and its medical commission have concluded that good air quality is fully guaranteed," Mr Du added.

[ ... ]

It is still not clear exactly how bad the air has to be for an event to be cancelled, and it is forbidden to bring in measuring equipment for any independent measurement of air quality.
I'm going to make a bold prediction here and now: Existing Olympic records, at least in the endurance events, are pretty safe this year.

Some day the world will ask the International Olympic Committee how it was they came to choose a host nation with not only a complete disregard for basic human rights, but for basic human health.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Robert Novak diagnosed with brain tumor; HuffPo comments closed

Columnist Robert Novak has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Here's hoping he's successfully treated and makes a quick recovery.

Comments on the article at left-wing hate site Huffington Post are, of course, closed.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Barack Obama, dilettante

In this post last night at Hot Air, Allahpundit rightly observes Barack Obama as "...torturing the distinction between tactics and strategy" during an interview with Katie Couric. Allahpundit goes on to say:
According to The One, the president sets the strategy: Most troops out in 16 months but some left behind for various missions. The generals supply the tactics: To carry out those missions responsibly, we need X number of troops. What does X equal? Why, it’s … “entirely conditions-based”.
Just so. As I commented on the post last night, Obama talks about troop levels as if the number of troops we have in Iraq is itself a strategy. It's not.

Tactics are employed to achieve strategic objectives. The strategy is determined by policy. In the real world, a policy maker, i.e., the President, decides on a strategy of military assistance to Iraq to achieve a secure and stable government. The strategy is to provide military forces to train indigenous security forces, help in community rebuilding, etc. The tactics, i.e. the appropriate number and types of military personnel, how and where they're deployed, etc., are determined by the military leadership tasked with implementing the strategy.

But in Obamaworld, troop levels are themselves a strategy and policy rolled into one. Obama rarely, if ever, articulates a coherent policy for Iraq. Indeed, he seems to be indifferent to the final outcome of events there.

Barack Obama has yet to prove himself to be an effective US Senator...a President Obama would be disastrous not just for the US, but for Iraq.

Barack Obama is nothing but a dilettante.

British decency laws put to the test

A gallery in Britain is being dragged into court over "artist" Terence Koh's statue of Christ with an erection.
A leading art gallery is being taken to court over claims that it outraged public decency by displaying a statue depicting Christ with an erection.

The sculpture was the most provocative item in an exhibition at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead.

[ ... ]

The maximum penalty for outraging public decency is six months’ imprisonment and a £5,000 fine.
Laws such as this are stupid, stifling and should be an embarrassment to any society that claims to value free speech. At the same time, it's telling that the "artist" chose Christ as his target of ridicule, and not the prophet of a certain other Abrahamic religion. Of course, had Koh opted to depict Mohammed in such a fashion, the state wouldn't get a chance to prosecute the gallery before it went up in flames with the artist's headless body lying in the street. That's assuming, of course, that the gallery's owners had the balls to exhibit such "artwork".

Bumper snicker

My brother tipped me to this, and I just had to get a few of them. You can get yours with a $5 donation (for 1 sticker) or a $10 donation (3 stickers) to the Tennessee Republican Party.

Here's the link.

Russians nostalgic for crappy Soviet-era food

I guess one man's borscht is another man's beef Wellington. Some Russians are queuing up at shops that sell reproductions of lousy, Soviet-era government-produced food.
Shoppers can now pick up crude Indian tea for the equivalent of 35p, [Around 65-70 cents. --ed.] packaged in the yellow, elephant-adorned box that any Russian over the age of 20 would remember - some, apparently, fondly.

For many Russians, the collapse of the Soviet Union meant not only the death of a strict political system, but of a way of life they had grown to love, peppered with state-produced chocolates and cheeses that disappeared along with the dictatorship of the Communist Party.
If you're selling nostalgia, how about charging people to stand in line for food all day then telling them you're all out?

45 dead in India bombings

A series of bombings this weekend in India have left at least 45 dead. A series of 16 bombs were detonated in Ahmedabad, just a day after seven were detonated in Bangalore. Two additional bombs were found unexploded in the town of Surat.

Indian authorities, after appearing to rule out Jewish, Christian, Buddhist or Hindu terrorists seem unsure who to look to next as suspects.

A little R. Bruce

Went with the ol' lady tonight to see local boy R. Bruce at the Colonial Tavern. It was great entertainment, and this is one of the songs he did tonight. The guy puts on a great show with a mix of stand-up and musical comedy, and you should definitely catch him if he comes around your area.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Out: Hope and change. In: This is the moment.

Having been on the road this past week, I didn't catch Barack Obama's speech in Berlin, nor did I see any sound bites on the news. What can I say...10 hours of meetings every day followed by late dinners every night doesn't leave much time for anything else.

So this morning, I tracked down a link on Obama's campaign web site to the text of the speech, and managed to get through it without any tingling thrill going down my leg. But I may have to check my blood sugar level. I'm sure it's elevated.

First, I'll have to concede what I liked about the speech. A speech in Berlin by any politician wouldn't be complete without at least a passing reference to the Berlin Airlift. But Obama went well beyond superficial references and pays proper tribute to the significance of that event, even if he does refer to cargo planes as "airlift planes" (snicker). I guess Merrill McPeak didn't proofread the final draft.

Proper emphasis is also placed on combating terrorism, although he steered carefully around the source of that terrorism and not once mentions Islam and the only time he mentions Muslims is in the context of that Vast Majority™ who reject extremism.

A few more observations...
  • The word "hope" is used only eight times and "change" only once. "Hope and change" appear to have been thrown under the bus in favor of "This is the moment." The word "moment" appears 16 times in the speech, and the phrase "This is the moment (or some variant thereof) appears 12 times. It's a good thing that "moment" doesn't specify a finite period of time since there's an awful lot of things His Holiness plans to do in "the moment".
  • In a passage where he expresses his dream of a world without nuclear weapons, he says "...we need not stand idly by and watch the further spread of the deadly atom". I had no idea that the tiny particle of which all matter is made was "deadly". Yikes!
  • The Messiah's inner commie comes out with this call for the redistribution of wealth:
    This is the moment when we must build on the wealth that open markets have created, and share its benefits more equitably.
The speech reaches a lofty rhetorical crescendo with these parts:
Now the world will watch and remember what we do here – what we do with this moment. Will we extend our hand to the people in the forgotten corners of this world who yearn for lives marked by dignity and opportunity; by security and justice? Will we lift the child in Bangladesh from poverty, shelter the refugee in Chad, and banish the scourge of AIDS in our time? [Never mind that George W. Bush has done more to fight AIDS than any world leader. Ever. --ed.]
People of Berlin – people of the world – this is our moment. This is our time.
Oh, my...what does he think he's running for president of?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Love the name, hate the price

I'm on the west coast visiting the corporate mother ship this week and let's just say that gas is a bit cheaper at home.

Yeah, OK...fixed the title. That's what happens when you post from a cell phone.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Does the Logan Act still exist?

Hot Air had this item today about CNN political analyst David Gergen's assessment that Barack Obama's visit to Iraq crossed the line from "fact-finding" to outright unauthorized negotiations.

I'm somewhat surprised that neither Ed Morrissey nor any of the commenters (besides myself, long after the thread was dead) mentioned the Logan Act, which expressly forbids negotiations with a foreign government by unauthorized persons.

Ed says it really doesn't matter because "Both Republicans and Democrats have gone on “fact-finding missions” to Iraq in order to bolster their own policies". Bolstering their own policies, yes. Negotiating troop levels? No.

Axis of shitheads

Comic book commie president Hugo Chavez of Venezuela paid a visit to Russian president (and Vladimir Putin sock puppet) Dmitry Medvedev and was on a major arms shopping expedition to protect Venezuela from the Imminent US Invasion™ which seems, um, not very imminent.
Chavez is expected to reach a number of agreements for purchasing military hardware while in Russia, according to Russian news media reports. One newspaper reported that the deals could be worth up to $2 billion.

"That way we can guarantee Venezuela's sovereignty, which is now threatened by the United States," Chavez was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying.

Just how much defense does $2 billion buy these days? I'm thinking not much.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Hammer and anvil

This report from the Times of London suggests that foreign jihadis are bailing on Iraq and heading to Afghanistan to fight. This will undoubtedly be spun by the Democrats and the media ( there's a difference) as another example of a failed Bush administration policy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

First, it's confirmation that global jihadis view Iraq as a lost cause. Which, of course, it now is. Al Qaeda in Iraq is, for all intents and purposes, thoroughly defeated.

Second, this will allow combat forces already being drawn down in Iraq to be redeployed to Afghanistan, in effect chasing these medieval zealots into a kill zone where they can be destroyed.

Iraq is the hammer, Afghanistan the anvil.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

An inconvenient hypocrisy

Via Hot Air. Al Gore rolled up to a global warming climate change event in DC in two Lincoln Town Cars and an exhort people to conserve, be willing to pay more for fuel, and use mass transit.

Were they hybrids? Who knows. If they were, does that mean that SUV gets 12 MPG instead of 8?

News IQ

Charles at LGF linked to this Pew News IQ quiz. Like Charles, I aced it. I'm really not boasting...the questions aren't all that tough. Actually, the fact that only 3% got 12 of 12 correct kind of depresses me.

Britain's stupidest woman

Britain's Communities Secretary (what the hell is that, anyway?) has an idea that will cure all of Britain's least so far as British Muslims see them. Every student at state schools will receive mandatory Islamic indoctrination.
State school pupils are set to be taught Islamic traditions and values in compulsory citizenship lessons.

The move - part of a package of initiatives announced by Communities Secretary Hazel Blears yesterday - is designed to curb extremism.
In a bizarre way, she's right. If you turn every British kid into a Muslim, there'll be nobody left to bomb. That'll curb extremism.
Other plans announced by Miss Blears also drew criticism - including a state-funded panel of Islamic scholars and theologians to provide community leadership.

Prominent Muslims said this scheme was naive because Government endorsement would erode the credibility of those taking part, especially among the young and disaffected.
That "prominent Muslims" think the government's imprimatur would hurt their credibility among Muslims speaks volumes.

Terrorist etiquette

Copies of this sign should be placed at every airport security checkpoint.

Uh-oh: Over 60 pounds of Semtex stolen in France

Some 28Kg (61.6 pounds) of Semtex, a powerful explosive, has been apparently stolen from a storage facility in France.
Enough Semtex to make 56 bombs the size of the one used in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing has been stolen from a French castle.

The 28 kilograms of the explosive were discovered to be missing yesterday along with an unknown quantity of detonators, but the Interior Ministry said they could have been taken more than a week ago.
Your words of wisdom for the day: Keep away from mass transit in France for a while.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Netroots want "Opinion Media" label for Fox News

The kids running the show at "Netroots Nation" (formerly known as the "Yearly Kos" convention) want reporters covering the convention from Fox News Channel to have press credentials identifying Fox as "Opinion Media".
Planners of the conference want to force representatives of the cable news network to wear credentials identifying them as opinion media rather than providing them with the regular press passes other news outlets will receive.

[ ... ]

The Netroots, however, may not get their way.

A spokeswoman for Fox News called the policy a “predictable stunt and a moot point” since the network would not be sending anyone to cover the four-day conference that kicked off in Austin, Texas, on Thursday.
As I read the NYT item, I was chuckling to myself and wondering if the Nutroots would require the same of MSNBC just as I got to this part:
The idea to label Fox journalists as opinion media is, in fact, not a new one. It’s been tossed around on blogs, and MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann also mentioned the idea on his show last summer.

Setting aside for a moment the opinion shows on FNC, such as Hannity & Colmes, O'Reilly Factor, etc., if one actually watches the news reporting on FNC, there's nothing ideologically remarkable about it. It is - for lack of a better phrase - fair and balanced. OK, so maybe they don't do the Democrats any favors by repeatedly having the buffoonish Bob Beckel representing their side so often, but nobody's perfect.

I've written before about the ideological totalitarianism of the left, and this is just further evidence of it.

Update: More ideological totalitarianism at Nutroots Nation. Former Democratic Congressman Harold Ford was booed for offering up some kind words for his former colleagues at Fox News, where he was a regular contributor.
"I used to work for Fox News. I no longer am there," he said after an audience member, during the Q&A session, accused him of smearing Democrats and echoing right-wing talking points. "I have great, great respect and admiration for my former colleagues there..."

Some in the crowd were incredulous, hissing Ford, asking (err... screaming) "why and who," and offering a scattering of boos.
Hat tip to Hot Air headlines.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Weapons Porn: The Sensor Fused Weapon

This was featured at, but since they don't seem to support embeddable video, I had to scrounge this up from YouTube. In the clip, the announcer says it was "only used in anger" once, so it's apparently beyond the development stage and in the field already. Behold, the Sensor Fused Weapon in all its awesome power and glory:

Since the jihadis don't have a whole lot of tanks, I'd love to see what this does to a convoy of Toyota pickup trucks in the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

China launches chemical attack on Europe

Researchers in Sweden have determined that an outbreak of "several thousand" cases of eczema in northern Europe was caused by Chinese-made furniture treated with an anti-mold chemical.
Researchers working at the skin clinic at Malmö University Hospital (MAS) have managed to trace a toxic anti-mould agent which has caused several thousand of Europeans to suffer from aggravated eczema.

Several indications emerged that the infections were connected to the purchase of imported furniture from China.

An extraordinary number of cases began to show up in the UK and Finland in the spring of 2007. Symptoms were so severe that doctors began to suspect tumour-related illnesses. It was soon established that the affected patients had all bought furniture manufactured by the Chinese company Linkwise, according to Sydsvenska Dagbladet.
Those bastards...they'll stop at nothing!

Just how stupid is Joe Biden?

This stupid:
“If John wants to know where the bad guys live, come back with me to Afghanistan,” Biden said. “We know where they reside. And it’s not in Iraq.”
As Drew points out over at Ace of Spades, the only reason there are a lot fewer bad guys in Iraq is because we didn't take his advice on the surge and instead escalated the level of ass-kicking there.

At what point did we stop sending our best and brightest to the Senate and start electing mental defectives like Joe Biden?

Monday, July 14, 2008

New Yorker's Obama cartoon

I guess I can't let the ridiculous cartoon gracing the cover of New Yorker magazine pass without comment. I won't post the cartoon, so click the Hot Air link if you want to see it.

The cartoon is intended (presumably) to be a joke at the expense of right-wingers for their objections to Barack and Michelle Obama, suggesting a certain amount of bigotry on their part. Yet it also manages to offend Obama and his supporters. No small feat.

As one who opposes Barack Obama's presidential ambitions, what bugs me about the cartoon is that it trivializes the substantive objections people on both the left and the right have to Obama. Yet the New Yorker chooses to paint Obama's detractors as bigots. Surprised?

Not me.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tony Snow dead at 53; HuffPo comments closed before they open

Sadly, Tony Snow has died at the age of 53 after a long battle with cancer. His humor, style and class will be missed.

Over at the Huffington Post, comments on the article were closed right from the start to avoid the embarrassment of their readers' squeals of delight.

Bush defenders come from unlikely quarters

For the past seven and a half years, the left has had a field day with George W. Bush, defining him simultaneously as both a bumbling moron and an evil genius dictator. That the two characterizations are mutually exclusive has never seemed to bother the far left, and while Bush has his faults as President, he's obviously neither of those two things.

I saw an op-ed column in this morning's Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star by gay activist David Benkof. There wasn't a version online at the FLS web site, but I found one here. In the column, Benkof compares the administrations of Bush and Clinton and judges Clinton harshly against the work done by Bush in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
It is unquestionable that George W. Bush has done more to fight HIV/AIDS than any president in American history, including Clinton.
But Benkof is a Republican, so lefties will dismiss his Bush defense as partisanship. So let's move on then to Bob Geldof, someone with better leftist credentials. Oddly, Geldof is the source of the most frank and open praise for Bush, even while condemning his Iraq policy.

Back in February, TIME ran this article by Bob Geldof, the musician now famous for his advocacy for African issues. Hardly a cheerleader for Bush, he does his level best to set the record straight about the President:
It is some story. And I have always wondered why it was never told properly to the American people, who were paying for it. It was, for example, Bush who initiated the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) with cross-party support led by Senators John Kerry and Bill Frist. In 2003, only 50,000 Africans were on HIV antiretroviral drugs — and they had to pay for their own medicine. Today, 1.3 million are receiving medicines free of charge. The U.S. also contributes one-third of the money for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria — which treats another 1.5 million. It contributes 50% of all food aid (though some critics find the mechanism of contribution controversial). On a seven-day trip through Africa, Bush announced a fantastic new $350 million fund for other neglected tropical diseases that can be easily eradicated; a program to distribute 5.2 million mosquito nets to Tanzanian kids; and contracts worth around $1.2 billion in Tanzania and Ghana from the Millennium Challenge Account, another initiative of the Bush Administration.

So why doesn't America know about this? "I tried to tell them. But the press weren't much interested," says Bush. It's half true. There are always a couple of lines in the State of the Union, but not enough so that anyone noticed, and the press really isn't interested. For them, like America itself, Africa is a continent of which little is known save the odd horror.
Geldof goes on to describe his conversations with Bush on Air Force One, as well as his visit with him to Africa.
...Then, in what I took to be a reference to the supposed Chinese influence over the cynical Khartoum regime, Bush adds, "One thing I will say: Human suffering should preempt commercial interest."

It's a wonderful sentence, and it comes in the wake of a visit to Rwanda's Genocide Memorial Center. The museum is built on the site of a still-being-filled open grave. There are 250,000 individuals in that hole, tumbled together in an undifferentiated tangle of humanity. The President and First Lady were visibly shocked by the museum. "Evil does exist," Bush says in reaction to the 1994 massacres. "And in such a brutal form." He is not speechifying; he is horror-struck by the reality of ethnic madness. "Babies had their skulls smashed," he says, his mind violently regurgitating an image he has just witnessed. The sentence peters out, emptied of words to describe the ultimately incomprehensible.
Geldof doesn't stop there, either. Of Bush's well-known speaking eccentricities, he says:
I have always heard that Bush mangles language and I've laughed at the satires of his diction. He shrugs them off, but I think he's sensitive about it. He has some verbal tics, but in public and with me he speaks fluently and in wonderful aphorisms, like:
  • "Stop coming to Africa feeling guilty. Come with love and feeling confident for its future."
  • "When we see hunger we feed them. Not to spread our influence, but because they're hungry."
  • "U.S. solutions should not be imposed on African leaders."
  • "Africa has changed since I've become President. Not because of me, but because of African leaders."
Only time will tell how George W. Bush will ultimately be judged. Whether it's on his Iraq policy, the economy or aid to Africa remains to be seen, and that judgment will be dictated largely by events taking place long after he leaves the White House.

Telegraph goes anti-US again

A Telegraph article describing a new requirement for Brits traveling to the US without a visa puts things in the worst possible light with the headline "British tourists to US face new online 'green form' ordeal". The negative spin continues with the lede:
British travellers visiting the US will be required to complete an online application form of their personal details at least three days before crossing the Atlantic, under strict new rules.
It's not until near the end of the article that the reader is informed that this is actually a pretty good deal:
Those who fly regularly across the Atlantic stand to benefit as an approved application remains valid for up to two years, or until the traveller's passport has run out. It also entitles the holder to multiple entries to the US during this period.
Beats filling out that silly green form in a hurry as one stands in the passport control line.

Of course, much of this wouldn't be necessary if so many nations that fall under the US visa waiver program didn't also harbor shitloads of Islamist freakazoids, as even the Telegraph acknowledges...sort of:
The new system is also seen as a response to the perceived growth of religious extremism in European countries, whose citizens are able to enter the US more easily.
Perceived? Gimme a fuckin' break.

Guess who vetoed UN Security Council measure on Zimbabwe?

Russia and China exercised their veto power and killed off a UN Security Council measure that would have imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe for president Robert Mugabe's stifling of free elections there.
Foreign Secretary David Miliband said on Friday that he was "very disappointed that the U.N. Security Council should have failed to pass a strong and clear resolution on Zimbabwe".

"It'll appear incomprehensible to the people of Zimbabwe that Russia, which committed itself at the G8 to take further steps including introducing financial and other sanctions, should stand in the way of Security Council action. Nor will they understand the Chinese vote," Mr Miliband said.

[ ... ]

British and US anger was intensified by Russia's sudden change of heart. Russia and China said they opposed the resolution because the situation in Zimbabwe did not threaten international stability and sanctions would have taken the UN beyond its mandate.

The US ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad, said Russia's veto raised "questions about its reliability as a G8 partner".
The United Nations is, by and large, an entirely useless and ineffective organization. Aside from the rampant corruption and bureaucratic bumbling, the Security Council -- the most important UN organ -- is neutered by the veto power of China and Russia.

When John McCain suggested the idea of a "league of democracies" as a way of getting around the morass that is the United Nations, I didn't think much about it. But the more I consider it, the more I think he's on to something.

Friday, July 11, 2008

'The "Q" is for "Quality"'

Iowahawk snagged a copy of al-Qaeda's recent newsletter announcing their corporate transformation and re-branding as "Qaedant" to reflect their renewed focus on quality martyrdom services and their efforts to close the "competitive casualty gap" with their competitors.
In a dynamic marketplace characterized by rapid change and unexpected missiles, even the most disciplined adaptive organizations can find it challenging to keep the lines of communication open. Without understanding the strategic "big picture," associates will sometimes be confused by misleading rumors they read on unreliable infidel blogs and websites like "F*cked Insurgency" and "Jihad Deadpool." With Vistas, you will learn the real story -- of how we are attacking the competitive casualty gap with a paradigm-changing tactical adaptive strategy focused on paradise value optimization. Yes, there will be some changes, but our core leadership mission remains the same one established by Chairman Emeritus Osama Bin Laden when he founded Al Qaeda in his family goat shed nearly 15 years ago: to create a robust, cave-centric, best-of-breed strategic organization for global caliphate management solution services. If we all pull together as accountable subteams, we are on-track to rebuild momentum after the Q4 Infidel elections!

[ ... ]

As you have possibly heard by now, Team Satan and their subsidiary Iraqi Security Forces have made several key market acquisitions in the last few months. In order to meet Q3 Return-on-Mayhem targets and maximize stakeholder value, we need to refocus our client-facing resource model. As we are currently seeking a 17th round of venture funding, budgets are extremely tight, and this will require reducing our internal work team payroll load through adaptive right-sizing on a go-forward basis. Accounting estimates indicate that much of this will be achieved via natural attrition and Apache Hellfire missiles. Still, in order to achieve costing targets, we will need to engage in involuntary outboarding.

The Communications department will be most directly effected by this initiative, as we continue transitioning of our day-to-day public relations efforts to low-cost offshore service providers like Huffington Post, DailyKos, and Democratic Underground.
Read it all.

Hat tip to my brother Mark for passing this along.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Jesse Jackson's faux pas

People everywhere are chortling over Jesse Jackson's whispered comments caught on a hot mic on Fox News in which he said he'd like to cut off Barack Obama's nuts for "talking down to black people" during talks on "faith-based" initiatives. I even interrupted my evening last night to catch the opening of Hannity and Colmes to find out what it was he actually said and to watch the left and right spin machines get started.

Al Sharpton was one of the guests for this segment, and took a reasonable stance, both defending Obama's positions and chiding Jackson for his ill-advised comments. What Jackson calls "talking down to blacks" Sharpton defended as Bill Cosby-like lectures on black responsibility. It was hard not to agree with Sharpton. Then Hannity tried to compare Jackson's slip of the tongue to Don Imus's "nappy-headed ho's" comment, but Sharpton would have none of it, and again, I had to agree with Sharpton. That's not even an apples and oranges comparison, it's apples and rocks.

But H&C's other guest, Michael Steele, got right to the real problem with Jackson's comments. He said it exposed a hostility to Obama that Jackson harbors, and he's absolutely right. The question is, why would Jackson hold such hostility against Obama on this topic? Without knowing exactly what Obama said to a black audience that Jackson considers to be "talking down" to them, it's hard to say. But apparently Sharpton knew exactly what kind of speech Jackson was so pissed off about when he referred to it as Bill Cosby-like.

So if Obama is telling black youth to get educated and shoulder their responsibilities as adults and be productive members of society, why would the good Rev. Jesse Jackson think that's a bad thing?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Freakazoid 'church' wants to celebrate pregnant soldier's death

The fundamentalist freaks from Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas who were successfully sued for making a mockery of soldiers' funerals now say they want to celebrate the death of Spc. Megan Touma, the pregnant soldier from Fort Bragg, NC who was found murdered.
Some Fort Bragg wives say they’ll oppose a fundamentalist church’s plan to celebrate the death of a pregnant soldier.

The Fayetteville Observer reported Wednesday a Kansas church plans a “gospel picket” on the death of 23-year-old Army Spc. Megan L. Touma. Police Sgt. John Somerindyke says Westboro Baptist Church is seeking a city permit for July 16.
Presumably the "celebration" is owing to the fact that Touma would have had her child out of wedlock.

I say let 'em have their permit...and invite the rest of Spc. Touma's unit to show up and help them "celebrate".

WTF?: Serial rabbit murderer in Germany

In the area around Dortmund and Witten in Germany, a serial rabbit killer is at work. In nearly all 40 of the cases, the victims are found decapitated and drained of blood. And he may be using Google Earth to locate his victims.
Police suspect a serial rabbit killer in Germany may be using Google Earth to locate victims before draining their blood.

Up to 40 rabbits have been killed in Dortmund and Witten – and in almost all the attacks the killer decapitates the pets and bleeds them dry.

[ ... ]

"This place isn't visible from the street," Mrs Perkun told the BBC. "I try not to tell anyone where this place is. People know that I have rabbits, but I don't tell anyone where this place is, so I hope my rabbits are safe."

But Volker Schuette, one of a special team of five officers hunting the killer, warned that many animals had been snatched from cages away from public view, suggesting the killer might be using satellite images to track them down.
Eh, I'm not so sure about the whole satellite image theory. I've looked at Google Earth and other Internet satellite imagery, and you can barely tell a car from a truck, never mind pick out rabbits.

Like father, like son

Osama Bin Laden's youngest son, Hamza, appears in a video in which he recites a poem calling on Allah to help the faithful wipe out America, Britain, etc.
In it, the boy dubbed the Crown Prince of Terror, called for an acceleration in the "destruction" of America, Britain, France and Denmark, the latter singled out for the publishing by its largest selling broadsheet of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.

"Oh God, reward the fighters hitting the infidels and defectors. Oh God, guide the youth of the Islamic nation and let them assist with the fighters' plans," he continued.

"God, be pleased with those who want to go for jihad – and blind those who are watching and want to capture them.

"Grant victory to the Taliban over the gangs of infidels."
How original.

UN to dictate where Norway can drill for oil?

Norwegian oil interests are locked in a debate with Norway's fishing industry over seismic surveying of the Lofoten islands area in Norway's arctic region. But the debate may become moot if the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) places the islands on UNESCO's list of "World Heritage" sites.
The UN may add the scenic Lofoten islands off the coast of Arctic Norway to UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list. This would put an end to the on-going debate about whether to allow the oil industry access to the continental shelf in the area.

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate is currently acquiring seismic data in the Lofoten basin. Fishermen fear that shock waves from the tests scare adult fish away and harm hatchling fish. The fishing lobby was willing to accept six weeks of exploration between harvesting seasons, but technical difficulties have meant that this period has been extended to four months.
So much for national sovereignty.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Hell freezes over

Spotted this item over at Ace of Spades today. This is either a stunning first...or a joke. A European coming to the defense of George W. Bush. Ace guesses that the writer is not just European, but a European Muslim, based, I assume, on the writer's name -- Sameh el-Shahat.
This is a man who has the courage of his convictions.

Let’s not forget how Europe does wars.

Usually we wait and wait until the enemy starts attacking, then we let them win a bit, then we fight until we are tired, then we just call the US to come over to clean our mess.

That is what happened in WWI, WWII, and the Balkans.

Bush is just showing us what a bunch of dangerous ditherers we are and we hate him for it. Naturally.
Read it yourself and watch the video at the link. You tell this guy for real or is it a joke?

Berlin Airlift: Soviets' first defeat of the Cold War

Though Rhein-Main Air Base near Frankfurt, Germany is now closed, this memorial to the Berlin Airlift there is still clearly visible from the A5 Autobahn which runs alongside the Frankfurt Airport

Sixty years ago, the Berlin Airlift was nearing full swing after the Soviets blockaded West Berlin in a bid to starve out the occupying Allied troops and bring the entire city under Soviet control. The blockade had started on 24 June, 1948 cutting off supplies to the city from the west over road and rail lines. In cutting off Allied Forces, the Soviets were perfectly willing to starve West Berlin's civilian residents, as well.

From its start near the end of June of 1948 to its official end in September 1949 (the Soviets lifted the blockade in May 1949), American, British and French aircraft delivered enough food, coal and fuel to keep Berlin's citizens fed and warm through the winter.

Aside from serving up a humiliating defeat to Josef Stalin and his pack of commies, the airlift sent the clear message that the US, Britain and France wouldn't abandon their new allies and set the tone for the rest of the Cold War.

Some interesting facts about the Berlin Airlift from this Wikipedia article on the topic:
  • Tons of goods delivered: 2,326,406
  • Number of flights flown: 278,228
  • Total miles flown: 92 million (nearly the distance of Earth to the sun)
  • Lives lost: 101 (mainly due to crashes)
  • Aircraft lost: 25
  • Cost of airlift: $224 million (around $2 billion adjusted for inflation)

Monday, July 07, 2008

Gingrich giving credit where it's not due?

Newt Gingrich needs to be a bit more selective when holding up examples of "green conservatism". Norwegians are having a bit of a chuckle over Gingrich's citing of Norway as a model of deregulated yet environmentally sound offshore oil drilling.
Norwegian government leaders and environmentalists alike are all but scoffing over some unexpected -- and unjustified -- praise doled out to them by American arch-conservative Newt Gingrich.

Gingrich, the former Republican leader of the US House of Representatives, recently spent six days with his wife on board one of the coastal voyage vessels known as Hurtigruten. He then concluded that Norway is a "case study" of what he calls "green conservatism."

Gingrich extolled the beauty of Norway's scenery and wildlife, while exclaiming over Norway's role as one of the world's largest oil and gas exporters. He claimed on a blog last month that Norway had "struck a remarkable balance between respect for the environment and energy independence," while becoming a "leader" in offshore drilling for oil and gas. He wrote that the US has "a lot to learn" from Norway.

Gingrich didn't mention that most all the drilling takes place far from the coast, mostly in the middle of the North Sea, and is strictly regulated if not prohibited in scenic areas or close to shore. It's also highly restricted in environmentally sensitive areas like the Barents Sea.
The article goes on to cite the conflicts between the energy industry and fishing and environmental groups.

But the article is not entirely fair. I couldn't find the blog post the article refers to on, but I found this blog entry at Lighthouse Patriot Journal, which may be a re-post of it. Gingrich never claims that Norway's oil and gas industry operates unfettered by regulation. What he does say is this:
Norway has relatively few laws, regulations and government agencies that govern offshore drilling. Their equivalent of our Supreme Court - the Hoyesterett - reportedly declined jurisdiction over offshore drilling on the grounds that it lacks expertise!

The result is a policy in which environmental concerns are carefully balanced with energy needs. Norwegians have put some areas off-limits to drilling. In some areas, drilling is carefully circumscribed. But the point is that drilling occurs. Environmental concerns have informed - not pre-empted-Norway’s oil and gas industry.
That last part I boldfaced describes the fundamental difference between Norway and the US. For the past 30 years or so, we've allowed the environmental movement to dictate our energy policy. That simply must

As a postscript, let me add that it's in Norway's interests to discredit Newt Gingrich. If we ever do get over our paralysis and boost our energy production, it will have a depressing effect on world oil prices. Given that Norway is benefiting from oil at $145 a barrel, they'd like nothing more than to see Gingrich's "Drill here, drill now, pay less" movement marginalized.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Saudi king to open inter-faith conference in Madrid

I saw this item at Arab News today, and I just had to chuckle a little bit. It seems that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia will open an interfaith conference in Madrid later this month.
He said the conference would discuss topics such as community amity, international cooperation, human rights and peaceful coexistence.
I wonder if any of the non-Muslims in attendance will bring this up:

Also in attendance will be Yousuf al-Qaradawi, the alleged voice of "mainstream" Islam, who just also happens to support suicide bombing.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Come to Denver and scare your kids shitless!

This banner ad has been appearing on my sitemeter page for the past few days or so. It's a tourism ad for Denver, Colorado and presumably it's telling people to bring your kids to Denver so you can scare the living shit out of them.

I suppose it's a good tie-in to the movie (and song of the same name by the late, great Warren Zevon) Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead.

Brit kids punished for not submitting to Islam

Two schoolchildren in Britain were punished with detention for not kneeling down and praying to Allah during a religious education segment in school.
Two schoolboys were given detention after refusing to kneel down and 'pray to Allah' during a religious education lesson.

Parents were outraged that the two boys from year seven (11 to 12-year-olds) were punished for not wanting to take part in the practical demonstration of how Allah is worshipped.

They said forcing their children to take part in the exercise at Alsager [Or is that 'al-Sager'? --ed.] High School, near Stoke-on-Trent - which included wearing Muslim headgear - was a breach of their human rights.
But wait! There's more!
Parents said that their children were made to bend down on their knees on prayer mats which the RE teacher had got out of her cupboard and they were also told to wear Islamic headgear during the lesson on Tuesday afternoon.
The school's headmaster appears to have no clue about what's going on in his own school:
Deputy headmaster Keith Plant said: "It's difficult to know at the moment whether this was part of the curriculum or not. I am not an RE teacher, I am an English teacher.

"At the moment it is our enterprise week and many of our members of staff are away.

"The particular member of staff you need to speak to isn't around. I think that it is a shame that so many parents have got in touch with the Press before coming to me.
In other words, it's a shame so many people had to find out about this.

Norway eyes reopening embassy in Iraq

In another indication that Iraq is finding its way out of the woods, a former Norwegian foreign ministry official is urging Norway to reopen its embassy in Iraq.
A former state secretary in the Foreign Ministry is criticizing what he calls deficient Norwegian foreign policy towards Iraq. He thinks Norway should reopen the embassy it closed in 2003, just before the US-led invasion of the country.

Vidar Helgesen, who served in the Foreign Ministry during the former center-right government, said Norway needs to get more active involving Iraq.

Helgesen claimed Norway can offer "a lot of experience, with political and administrative solutions for how Iraq's oil resources can be managed."
Norway bailed on us in Iraq in 2004 - just a year after the invasion - but is eager to get back in now that things have improved and they can make some money.

No diplomacy for oil!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

'Arab girls gone wild'

I stumbled across this video today from a referrer link, which itself was a bit odd. Yes, somehow someone came here from that page.

Anyway, I'm not sure if this is a joke, or if this really is some poor deprived guy's idea of "girls gone wild".

'Dig it'

Got it from Hot Air, who got it from Tigerhawk. Probably the best video clip I've seen yet holding Barack Obama's feet to the fire and demanding that His Holiness explain his relationship with unrepentant, far left-wing domestic terrorists Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers.

Arab royals kept slaves in Belgium hotel

It's not clear from this Telegraph article just what these royal family members from the UAE were doing staying at a hotel for so long in Brussels, but I guess if you want to get your drink on away from prying eyes at home, it's as good a place as any.

In taking up residence at the Brussels Conrad Hotel, the royals rented out an entire floor for a year and ensconced themselves there...along with up to 20 female slaves.
Police officers and officials from Belgium's Labour Audit Authority raided the Conrad Hotel, the city's most prestigious and the preferred choice of many national leaders during European Union summits, on Tuesday evening.

The operation was triggered by the apparent escape of a maid who was among 20 servants working for the widow of a senior royal figure from the United Arab Emirates and her four daughters who have rented the entire fourth floor of the hotel for the last year.

Officials took away 17 people, from countries including the Philippines, Morocco, India, Egypt, Turkey, Iraq and Syria, amid allegations they had been held captive for eight months.

[ ... ]

"We are convinced that these 17 girls are victims of people trafficking," said an official.

The servants, dubbed "slaves" in the Belgian media, allegedly had to be at the service of the Arab royals 24 hours a day and had their passport taken away on arrival in Belgium. The women were reportedly not allowed to leave the hotel and their monthly salaries were as low as £80 a month.

"We were not allowed to leave the hotel and we had to be at their disposal 24 hours a day," claimed one young woman of Middle Eastern origin.

"We were not allowed to complain or to ask any questions. We just had to be there at their beck and call."
I'm sure this is all just a cultural misunderstanding. Who are we to judge their values?

Colombian operation frees high-value FARC hostages

Colombia's government and armed forces deserve a huge round of applause for the operation that freed 15 hostages held for years by communist FARC rebels in the remote Colombian jungle. While the plan was conceptually simple, laying the groundwork for success must have been incredibly complex and delicate.

The plan as carried out called for flying two helicopters into the camp where the hostages were being held, tell the bad guys they're moving the hostages to another camp on the orders of the insurgents' leaders, and fly the hostages to freedom. Shit...I could have come up with that plan if I thought it was, you know, actually possible.
Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos told reporters earlier in the day that the rescue mission had been made possible by "a special intelligence" operation that had penetrated the highest reaches of the FARC, including the group's seven-man directorate and one of the rings of specialized rebel units entrusted with guarding hostages. Santos said that ring, commanded by a rebel known by the alias Cesar, was tricked into believing that the FARC's leader had called for the hostages to be brought to him.

Yesterday, two white helicopters arrived in a jungle clearing where the hostages were being held. The men in the helicopters looked like guerrillas, Betancourt later said, describing details of the rescue at the military airport.

"Absolutely surreal," she said, noting that some of the men who got off the helicopter wore T-shirts emblazoned with the iconic image of the Argentine revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara. [Heh. --ed.] "I thought this was the FARC," she said.

Their hands bound, the hostages were forced aboard the helicopters, wondering where they would be taken next in their long ordeal. But once aboard, Betancourt said, Cesar and another guerrilla were overpowered and the crewmen announced that the passengers were now free. "The chief of the operation said: 'We're the national army. You're free,' " she said. "The helicopter almost fell from the sky because we were jumping up and down, yelling, crying, hugging one another. We couldn't believe it."
Awesome. In your face, commies!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Man finds chicken head in bag of wings - gets beer and wine

A man in England was horrified when the bag of chicken wings he bought to cook for his daughter's birthday party included a Chicken McNoggin.
ANGRY Peter Stanton [Was he already angry when he bought the wings? --ed.] bought a bag of Asda frozen ribs and chicken wings for his daughter’s birthday barbecue and found a chicken’s HEAD inside.

Salesman Peter, 39, was about to grill the defrosted wings at the bash for nine-year-old Georgia when he glimpsed a beak.

The dad, of Bacup, Lancs, said yesterday: “The kids were horrified.”

He took the head back to his local Asda in Rawtenstall.

Store chiefs gave him £50 of beer and wine to compensate and promised to investigate.
Hmmm...$100 worth of beer and wine for a momentary gross-out? I'll take that.

Google Earth hosting Palestinian propaganda

I came across this item in the Jerusalem Post this morning and was only mildly surprised to learn that Google Earth carries Palestinian propaganda on the portions of its maps that display Israel.
Anti-Israel activity on the Google Earth application has been stepped up this week, with the message "Nakba - The Palestinian Catastrophe" now appearing when users scroll over the orange dots that speckle locations across the entire map of Israel.

Google spokesperson Jessica Powell said on Tuesday that Google has no plans to restrict the application's content, despite claims that Israel is being uniquely and malevolently targeted.

[ ... ]

Some posts on the map of Israel incorrectly state that various cities are Palestinian towns destroyed during the 1948 War of Independence, Oboler said. He added that after searching through Google's world map, he had not found a similar situation in any other country.

Jenin resident Thameen Darby is posting these notes on the application, as well as links to a Palestinian propaganda site, Palestine Remembered, which offers more layers of misinformation for the map of Israel, Oboler said.

When Google Earth is first downloaded, the application's core system allows for various layers to be available to users. The content found within the core includes overlays, created by both organizations and individuals, allowing more detailed perspectives on certain areas.

The orange dots posted by Darby can be immediately found on the map, while other pro-Israel and corrected postings have to be downloaded separately, according to Oboler. A user has to actively seek for another perspective on the map, he said.

"The core layer is what people get when they download and install Google Earth," Oboler said. "It is there by default. The problem we have here is that the core layer is being used to promote propaganda, and this is being done openly and without penalty. If we treat Google Earth as the primary geographic information tool in the world, having such propaganda included becomes a problem."
The propaganda doesn't end there, though. I downloaded and ran Google Earth myself, and came across this particular "orange dot" (bottom third of the screen shot):

Hovering the mouse over the dot brings up the text "The photographs that changed the world - Muhammad al-Durrah". Clicking on the dot brings up a sequence of the photos with the caption:
Originally recorded on video, the three-panel sequence shows Muhammad al-Durrah, a 12-year-old Palestinian child being protected by his father, Jamal al-Durrah during a gun fight in the Gaza Strip on September 30, 2000. Jamal survived, while Muhammed did not.
The al-Durrah photographs, of course, are stills from a video purporting to show Jamal al-Durrah protecting his son Muhammad from Israeli gunfire. The video was shot by a Palestinian camerman for France 2 network, and the initial release (of 59 seconds out of a 27 minute video) reported that Muhammad, age 12, had died from gunshot wounds. The video provoked worldwide outrage against Israel, but the veracity of France 2's report was later called into question, and there were even allegations that the whole sequence had been staged. But, naturally, there were no follow-up reports sent around the world...the damage to Israel's reputation was already done. See the Wikipedia entry for more.

And, of course, here's one of the "Nakba" sites mentioned in the JPost article:

'Monster' crab caught off England coast

How much you wanna bet this eventually gets blamed on global warming?