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April 2004 Archives

April 1, 2004

Whatta revoltin' development!

I've been irked, for a while, about how the blogroll javascript works, and how one is charged money if want to divide your blog links in special ways.

Now, today, I can't even get to blogrolling.com! Yurk.

Ok, back to manual! I can cut'n'paste with the best of them.

However, if someone notices I'm missing a link that used to be up, please let me know.

April 4, 2004

The Sins of Kos

Dean Esmay has recently weighed in on Kos' comments about the murder of four civilians in Fallujah last week.

Dean, the kind soul that he is, remarks that "Zuniga's human," that he's said things he (Zuniga) now regrets, and observes (reasonably) that we've all done that before. Lord knows I have! :)

The problem is Kos hasn't really shown any remorse for his original comments. In fact, not only did he replace the original post with a milder one (the above link), this later post contains more than a little arrogant swagger.

For some reason I feel that Kos is not truly penitent. But that's just me.

And that's not why I'm posting about the situation now. To my mind nearly every blog that's posted about this (that I've read, anyway) has missed the point. The men that died in Fallujah were former members of the United States armed forces. They, too, served their fellow citizens. They, too, faced sacrifice, pain, hardship, and the very real chance of death in the service of their country.

Continue reading "The Sins of Kos" »

April 5, 2004

On a lighter note

Last night we had the Nickelodeon's 17th annual Kids' Choice Awards.

Amanda Bynes had a repeat with her 2nd consecutive "favorite movie actress" win, as did SpongeBob SquarePants for "favorite cartoon and video game."

OutKast picked up a double win with "favorite music group," as well as "favorite song." (Hey Ya!)

Ellen DeGeneres won "favorite animated voice" (justly so, I think!) with her protrayal of Dori in Finding Nemo.

But my favorite was the award given to Hugh Jackman (X-Men, X2, Swordfish, Kate & Leopold, Van Helsing).

Jackman won "finest celebrity burper."

In his acceptance speech, Jackman said "Finally, something my family can be proud of."

My gosh, don't you just love The Arts!?

April 12, 2004

The Fog of War

While googling for extra sources for this post, I found out that -while Clausewitz is credited with the phrase "fog of war"- he never used that term in On War.

Apparently the closest he came was mentioning "fog and friction." defined as "The diverse difficulties and impediments to the effective use of military force."

Whether Clausewitz actually used the phrase or not, the uncertainty of war was a consistent theme in his work: "In war, everything is very simple. But even the simplest things are very difficult."

Continue reading "The Fog of War" »

Oh, the Irony

I caught this headline from Yahoo! News today:

Iraq Hostages Are from States That Stayed Out of War

"BAGHDAD (Reuters) - When it comes to kidnapping, the nationalities which had least to do with the Iraq war seem to be most at risk in the still-troubled country."

In other words, staying out of the way and hunkered down didn't help any.

But what really gets me is that not only are the the so-called "resistance fighters" are kidnapping the citizens of countries that opposed US intervention in Iraq, but that those civilians are there to help rebuild the country!

In addition to the Chinese and Japanese hostages,
" Seven South Korean church pastors were taken captive last week but freed later the same day. Three Pakistanis, two Turks, an Indian, a Nepali and a Filipino were also kidnapped but detained only briefly before being released.

A Palestinian and a Canadian of Syrian origin are believed still held.

As missionaries, journalists, human rights activists or contract workers, most of those taken captive appear to have had little connection with the military, perhaps making them easy targets." (emphasis added)

Yes, sir, a sure-fire plan to gain independance and rebuild Iraq.

Universal Translator

Looks like Star Trek's Universal Translator is getting closer.

Today's StrategyPage on "How to make war" (scroll down to the April 12, 2004 entry) mentions some interesting developments in document reading and computer translation.

First, there's the software developed by the Language Weaver Corporation, running under Windows on a server. This package can communicate with other servers or individual PCs.

The documents are scanned to electronic form, and then translated. It isn't clear from the article whether the OCR (Optical Character Recognition) application is part of the package or not. What is interesting is that as the database of correctly translated phrases grows, accuracy increases.

Favorite sentance: "Iraq, one of the places (China and Egypt being the others) where mankind created literacy, has never lost its fondness for writing things down."

Very cool.

Next we have the Phraselator. No "Ahnuld" jokes, please! And, yes, that really is what they named it. This doodad is about the size of a PDA like a Clie, or a Visor, and can accept Flash Cards with different phrases in different languages.

All the user has to do is speak English into the Phraselator, and the appropriate translated phrase is uttered by the device. But it isn't a general translator. The phrase has to be part of a pre-defined set on the Flash Card.

The interesting thing here is that the cards are customized for specific situations, such as the "Medic" card. The phrases are constructed for a simple response such as pointing (to where it hurts, for the Medic card, or "which way did they go?" {g}), or a yes/no answer.

Favorite sentance: "the troops agree that it sure beats sign language or thumbing through a phrase book. The locals like it because it's yet another neat American gadget, and one that won't kill them as well. "

Also very cool.

April 13, 2004

Marines' Helping Hand

I'm stealing this link from Dean Esmay. But, just in case the five people who read this blog regularly haven't heard of it yet, make a point of visiting these people.

The Spirit of America non-profit group "enable[s] American military, Foreign Service and reconstruction personnel to submit requests for goods that will help local people. Typically, the requests are for items that established aid organizations and government bureaucracies are not designed to handle."

Whether you think BushLied(tm), or Dubya is the greatest thing to come out of Texas since Sam Houston, this is a worthy endeavor.

Surely we can all agree that the United States has a unique opportunity to make a difference in Iraq, and this group provides a way for all citizens to help.

If nothing else, it avoids bureaucratic SNAFU by listening to the "boots on the ground," and their ideas on how to contribute to people's lives.

Like the old songs say: "you can make a difference."

Waffles Away!

Ken Jacobson, over at Esoteric Diatribe had a good (and funny) idea.

Why not google-bomb Kerry with the word waffles the same way some squishy lib'rls did with the miserable failure thing?

A good idea, sez I! I think it would be funny to link Kerry with the word waffles. After all, waffles are square like Kerry, waffles are flat, like Kerry's delivery, and waffles are toasted, just like Kerry will be in November.


Of course, I'm excited, because I like to eat waffles in the morning.

Blueberry.

So I encourage everyone to mention waffles on their website, tell their friends to mention waffles as well, and maybe we'll get waffles up to #1 on Google.

On a (barely) more serious note, if you want to keep the rating from being degraded by the search engine, and your blog 'ware will let you, just post-date the article discussing waffles so that it stays on your main page. This makes it count more.

Or you can do what I did, and put a waffles link on your sidebar.


Happy waffles-ing, everyone!


UPDATE: Ken has told me that we're bombing waffles, not waffle. Whoopsie. All fixed, now!

April 16, 2004

Fog of War Part 2

A few days ago, I wrote about the fog of war. After I published it, I realized I had forgotten at least one very relevant example: the bombing in Madrid, and how it affected the campaign against islamofacism.

At the time I decided that the omission wasn't that important; at least, not important enough to warrant an update in the original post.

After reading recent news articles, as well as blog posts, about the current situation in Iraq, I have decided that further comment is required.

Continue reading "Fog of War Part 2" »

April 17, 2004

Fog of war, postscript

Mark Adams has called me "a voice of reason" while commenting on my "Fog of War Part 2" post. As I said to him earlier, I hope he will resist the temptation to crow "you see, Bush was wrong!! Bush had no plan!!," and so on, since he is very much not a fan of the man.

This is one of the basic facts of warfare that I hope to eventually make clear to non-military folks: you don't just expect things to blow up in your face in a war: sooner or later you can guarantee it.

Here's an excellent example: in 1944 military intelligence (uh-oh, the dreaded "Who knew what, and when?" effect!) indicated that several eight inch (203mm) guns were sited on the Pointe du Hoc, located on a 100-meter high cliff that provided excellent coverage of the Normandy beaches. Those guns would wreak havoc among the thin-skinned transports and assault craft during the invasion.

They handed that choice assignment to the Rangers. The morning of June 6, the Rangers climbed ropes, rope ladders, and in some cases cut hand-holds into the face of the cliff to reach the top. The Germans gunned them down mercilessly, but in the end the Rangers took Pointe du Hoc.

They also took nearly 200 casualties, both dead and wounded.

The guns weren't even there. They were several miles inland. The Germans hadn't gotten around to moving them yet.

My point here is that if today's atmosphere prevailed in 1944, at least some of the Republican Party opposition would have immediately accused the Rooseveldt administration of incompetance, poor planning, and so on.

We don't need that. That won't win this war. And -unless the reader is someone who is adamant about troops in Iraq at all, and just doesn't care what happens to the Iraqis after we leave- that sort of sniping does not help at all.

----

I'm sure at least some of the readers are wondering what I would call an "acceptable" criticism of the Bush administration. Here's one:

While the number of active-duty divisions on hand did not originally seem critical, it is becoming apparent that we need to devote at least two of them to Iraq for the forseeable future; call it 5-10 years. Even rotating brigades in and out on a regular basis won't address the fact that a minimum number of troops will be required in Iraq for a while. This puts a noticable crimp in our strategic reserve. If things go wahooni-shaped in Syria, Iran, or North Korea in the next (say) five years, our current forces would be stretched thin, to say the very least.

As far as anyone knows, the Bush administration has given no indication that they have even considered a significant increase in our active-duty forces, with "significant" being defined as at least two new divisions

It is our belief that this, combined with (other enumerated sane criticisms) shows that the current administration does not take this threat of medieval kleptocratic islamofacism seriously. That they, in fact, have assumed that an American victory is some sort of 21st-century Manifest Destiny, without serious forethought as to how our victory is, in fact, manifest.

Vote for XXX in November.

At the risk of sounding egocentric, Bush should be glad I'm not on the other side this fall... :)

April 19, 2004

The continuing adventures of Frank J.

As usual, Frank J. over at IMAO has minted yet another gem of comic commentary.

It's insanely funny, as usual, and gives a whole new meaning to the term "partisan sniping."

Not to mention: "get your head out of an undisclosed location." Heh.

April 23, 2004

Stop me before I Cookie again!

First they came for the joooos. Then they came for the cookies...

Now, wait just a darn minute here!

Nope, boys and girls, you're eyes aren't decieving you. The Fatherland Front office of New Jersey (actually the local school board, but same thing these days) suspended a boy for threatening a teacher with a cookie.

Just how dumb are these people, anyway?

A reverent bow to the Emperor Darth Misha for this one.

He shoot, he SCORES!

Frank J. is at it again, this time about Kerry's war medals.

Apparently someone has enrolled the IMAO master of Ching Ching Pao to a pro-Kerry mailing list as a joke.

In fact, Frank recently recieved a fund-raising letter from them, and his fisk of that letter included a truly classic Frankerian gem. The letter makes the obligatory mention of Kerry's Bronze Star and Silver Star, to which Frank replies:

"Why no gold star. Underachiever?"

Priceless...

Yukk

You know, there's one thing I hate about working on old computers.

Dust bunnies... IICKKKK!

'Nuff said.

April 24, 2004

Ancient History, part 1

AKA "Ah, the Good Old Days."

I've been telling several folks often enough that I was going to write about the Good Old Days, and it's about time that I put pen to paper. Please note that these articles are based on personal experience, and are not neccessarily exhaustive. :)

One of the motivators of this article was Paul Burgess, but a month or so back Dean Esmay wrote a nostalgic article about his Good Old Times, and I didn't want to look like a copycat. It turns out that article was Paul's fault, too!

Well, Paul, here you go.

My first experience with computers goes back to 1977, the year I graduated from high school. That spring a friend in the school Math Club showed me a wonderful new device called a "terminal." The terminal in question was teletype machine, and it was state of the art: it had a paper-tape punch and reader, so you could load or store your own programs.

Continue reading "Ancient History, part 1" »

Ancient History, part 2

(continued from part 1)

I don't want to piss off the Appleciders out there, but the late '83/early '84 lineup was pretty ugly. The Mac hadn't come out yet, while the Apple III (AKA the "pop-up toaster") and the Lisa did not inspire confidence. Cross it off the list.

The DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) Rainbow was interesting. It could run CP/M-80, CP/M-86 (IIRC a dual processor design), but was bloody expensive. It was also different enough from standard CP/M machines that I crossed that one off the list as well.

So it all came down to the IBM PC, and the Epson QX-10.

Continue reading "Ancient History, part 2" »

April 25, 2004

That's no moon, that's a SPACE STATION!!

Sorry, but I had to use that title. Nothing else can convey the awe, the majesty, and (considering the reference in Twister) the sheer mind-number terror inspired by

THE QUEEN OF ALL EVIL

AKA Rosemary Esmay, formerly of Dean's World. Welcome to the blogosphere!

Why "formerly"? Because while Rose has been writing on Dean's World for a while, she finally decided her own wings were strong.

Please note that this member of the Royally Dark Side is a registered Republican, and yes shep, I know you think that's redundant! :) But Rose is an equal-opportunity abuser: she'll beat up on anyone if they deserve it.

So if you have a rude sense of humor, and like hot polish women with huge... tracts of land, run over and pay the Queen a visit.

Almost forgot. Her Royal Sinisterity asked for "link love." Here you go, girl!

P.S. I put you in a special place on my sidebar as a "welcome" gift.

Um, that's not good...

Over at the Command Post they have a link to a CNN story that says"

"Iraqis in Najaf are stockpiling weapons in mosques, shrines and in schools, Coalition Provisional Authority spokesman Dan Senor said, while U.S. forces remained deployed outside the city." (emphasis added)

This is not a good thing. The next few weeks should prove instructive...

To all the servicemen and women in Iraq: keep your head down, and Godspeed.

Beam me up, Garrovik!

"These are the voyages of the starship Exeter..."

Ok, hold on just a second. We all know it's the Enterprise, right?

Well, no. Not if you're part of the crew of the Starship Exeter!

It took them seven years, but these folks create their own Star Trek fan movie, based on the original Series (TOS) timeline. The home base of the movie is the U.S.S. Exeter NCC-1706, commanded by Captain Garrovik. From their website:

"The U.S.S. Exeter, freshly recrewed and commanded by Captain John Garrovick, is on a mission to save a ship infected with the deadly Canopus Plague. The Exeter must travel to the homeworld of Andorian Lieutenant B'fuselek to find the cure. But Andorian rebels have other plans . . . and so do the Klingons!

STARSHIP EXETER "The Savage Empire" is an original self-produced pilot intended as a concept for a new television serial based on the look and feel of the 'Original Series.' With an eye for detail, the sets, props, costumes, and visual effects were all painstakingly reproduced by amatuers on a shoestring budget in exacting 1960's style."

I dropped by their site, and I was very impressed by the quality of their work. The miniatures were made by Thomas Sasser, who created the master for the new Polar Lights U.S.S Enterprise kit currently in toy stores and hobby shops. That kit has been hailed as the most accurate mass-produced kit ever made of the original Enterprise.

You can even watch Starship: Exeter online if you like! So if you're a fan of the original series, run -do not walk- here and check out their great work. Or if you just want to watch the movie, click here.

warning: you need broadband, or a lot of patience. the teaser/titles part is 25 megabytes long all by its lonesome.

April 26, 2004

Yet Another Reason why I don't trust the government

As Jerry Pournelle observed when someone sent him this article.

"As I understand it, the original Social Security Act promised that the Social Security Number would never become a national ID number, nor SS Number be used for identification. So it goes."

But, but, I thought that we could trust the government! Yeah.

This is exactly why I am generally opposed to government intervention into sociey. No matter how well-intentioned a program starts out, it spawns ugly unintended consequences, becomes a political football, or both.

How do you think that poor guy who's Social Security number was hijacked by terrorists feels?

April 28, 2004

While you were out...

I may not be posting as much here for a bit, since I'm guest-blogging at the ever-impressive Dean's World.

Drop on by....

The Final Mile

Take a look at the real America as they honor one of the fallen.

Read this, published by Blackfive.

Thanks to Dean for the link.

April 30, 2004

Happledy Birfday!

Lisa of just a girl in the world has a birthday today. I am reliably informed that this is the tenth time she's turned 21...

Heh.

Drop on by and wish her happledy birfday.

Arrrgh!

Great. I just noticed I'm now getting porn spam comments.

Wonderful....

Oh, well, time to install that plug-in. :-)

And, YES, mt-blacklist works its potent mojo on evil spambots!!

Urk. Now Lachlan has me doing it; I"m singing She Dropped Da Bomb On Me while I'm despamming the blog... Heh.

About April 2004

This page contains all entries posted to The Gantry Launchpad in April 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

March 2004 is the previous archive.

May 2004 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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