July 27, 2007

Blogging from Baghdad

Michael Totten reports from Baghdad In the Wake of the Surge.
I donned my helmet and vest, hopped into the backseat of a Humvee, and headed into the streets of the city with two dozen of the first infantry soldiers deployed to Iraq for the surge. The 82nd Airborne Division is famous for being ready to roll within 24 hours of call up, so they were sent first.

The surge started with these guys. Its progress here is therefore more measurable than it is anywhere else.

Conservative Christian, Right Wing Republican...

Spud, my 9 year-old, keeps singing this Todd Snider tune.

Could be I'm raising a hippy.

July 17, 2007

BBC culture

From the Telegraph: Former Newsnight producer Anthony Jay on the culture of "media liberalism" at the BBC:
We saw ourselves as part of the intellectual elite, full of ideas about how the country should be run, and yet with no involvement in the process or power to do anything about it. Being naive in the way institutions actually work, yet having good arts degrees from reputable universities, we were convinced that Britain's problems were the result of the stupidity of the people in charge. We ignored the tedious practicalities of getting institutions to adopt and implement ideas.

This ignorance of the realities of government and management enabled us to occupy the moral high ground. We saw ourselves as clever people in a stupid world, upright people in a corrupt world, compassionate people in a brutal world, libertarian people in an authoritarian world. We were not Marxists but accepted a lot of Marxist social analysis. Some people called us arrogant; looking back, I am afraid I cannot dispute the epithet.

Robot attack squadron

From USA Today:
The airplane is the size of a jet fighter, powered by a turboprop engine, able to fly at 300 mph and reach 50,000 feet. It is outfitted with infrared, laser and radar targeting, and with a ton and a half of guided bombs and missiles.

The Reaper is loaded, but there is no one on board. Its pilot, as it bombs targets in Iraq, will sit at a video console 7,000 miles away in Nevada.

Ok, so it's not really a "robot attack squadron" as USA Today calls it, but it is the future of military aviation.

Lt. Gen. Gary North (commander of air operations in Iraq and Afghanistan) is quoted as saying: "With more Reapers, I could send manned airplanes home."

July 16, 2007

Croc crocs

Meghan O'Rourke at Slate attacks the latest footwear fad:
"A Croc is not a shoe; it is a Tinkertoy on steroids."
She's clearly not impressed by the "ground-breaking orthotic technology".

July 06, 2007

Bush & Co

Gregory Djerejian lets rip at the Bush Administration in "The Libby Commutation Sullies America":
The commutation of Lewis Libby’s sentence presents yet another fetid example of the Bush Administration treating the Executive Branch merely as vehicle for governance by quasi-autocratic fiat. There are reasons, after all, that the Framers attempted to inject constitutional checks and balances, not only to escape the legacy of monarchical England, but also because they realized concentrated power too often corrupts terribly. The gross over-reaching of the Executive Branch in the Bush Administration, in areas ranging from detainee treatment, to a politically inspired putsch of federal prosecutors, to the Vice-President’s primitively brazen ‘argument’ his office is not even a part of the Executive Branch, all have conspired to badly shake the public’s trust in our system of government.
Sounds about right to me.

Visiting Parris

Matthew Parris writing in yesterday's Times on Britain's "underclass":

Anatole Kaletsky was right to argue on these pages last week that what he called the “underclass” in Britain is one of knottiest problems a new British prime minister faces. It becomes ever clearer that it is falling behind. Politicians and experts call for “ladders out” for the poorest.

Have we considered the possibility that these ladders may be the problem, not the solution? There are already ladders out. There have never been more. People who can climb have climbed them. Those who are left cannot climb. They represent an expensive nuisance, disproportionate to their numbers, but they can be fenced and contained.

The barbarian onslaught that overheated commentary thinks they threaten will be easily repulsed. They are more pathetic than fearsome. They are irrelevant. That is the tragedy.

Whatever happened to One Nation Conservatism?

July 05, 2007

The Big Bounce

Not with a Bang but with a Bounce.

From Psychorg:

New discoveries about another universe whose collapse appears to have given birth to the one we live in today will be announced in the early on-line edition of the journal Nature Physics on 1 July 2007 and will be published in the August 2007 issue of the journal's print edition.

"My paper introduces a new mathematical model that we can use to derive new details about the properties of a quantum state as it travels through the Big Bounce, which replaces the classical idea of a Big Bang as the beginning of our universe," said Martin Bojowald, assistant professor of physics at Penn State.
Loop Quantum Gravity is looking more and more like a promising alternative to String Theory.

July 04, 2007

Independence Day

From July 11, 2003

Out and about

Last weekend we took the boys over to The American Museum in Bath.

They had a number of special events organised including a display by The Crown Forces of 1776: scarlet coats, Brown Besses and a short six-pounder that seemed to shake the whole valley each time it was fired.

When we arrived the Red Coats were already drawn up on the lawn in front of the Great House engaged in diverse drills. Second Son, his blood up and a sparkle in his eye, suggested we go stand in the tree line and take pot shots at them.

Unfortunately we’d left our Kentucky Long Rifles at home.

Lacking the wherewithal to harass and impede the enemy’s maneuvers we retired to the terrace for a nice cup of tea and a sit down.

July 01, 2007

Modern life

In the past ten days, our car's been scratched up, someone put one of our windows through and last night three guys ripped off our front gate.

Of course, that's one of the problems with living in England: it's hard to tell if you've become the focus of a sustained campaign of low level intimidation or just the random violence of drunken yobs.