29 January 2008

Staving off the ravening NATO hordes

Via Instapundit is an article about the next generation of phased array radar. Current phased array lets you point a radar beam in a swath of directions with no moving parts. This is not only more durable but enormously faster, with the pointing happening in milliseconds instead of tens of seconds required by the old physically scanning type.

The new stuff supports a phased array pointing multiple beams simultaneously. Currently, this is simulated by moving the beam around rapidly, but this reduces accuracy and resolution. The new stuff can track multiple targets with dedicated beams in a truly simultaneous fashion. It’s almost as much of a qualitative difference as the original phased array was over its predecessor.

But as cool as that is, it wasn’t actually the most interesting thing in the article. That honor belongs to this parapraph, following a discussion of how this technology will vastly improve anti-ballistic missile defenses —

Therefore, beamforming can change missile defense equations in favor of the defenders. “Russian analysts examining the [missile defense] system would conclude that, at some unforeseen future time … it might be able to engage many hundreds of targets,” a 2007 Arms Control Association report noted. “Such possibilities, however remote they would seem, would certainly conjure up apocalyptic threats to Russia’s national survival.” [emphasis added]

Are they serious? Do the Russian analysts honestly believe that if Russia can’t nuke Europe, Russia as a nation would face total destruction? Is the threat of retaliatory nuclear strikes the only thing that keeps NATO from nuking Russia into the history books? Or is it simpler, in that if Russia can’t nuke, it can’t intimidate its neighbors sufficiently to extract the tribute it needs to survive?

28 January 2008

First steps are the hardest

Let’s give President Bush credit for things he does right, and his executive order to disregard non-legislative earmarks is clearly an excellent action. I salute him.

There are those who say earmark reform is a waste of time, since the overall amounts of money are trivial on the scale of the federal budget. The latter is true, but I subscribe to the “broken windows” theory of government spending. It’s not the earmarks of themselves, but the tone that abuse of them sets. Advancing the idea that government spending can be bad, to a broad range of the American Street, isn’t sufficient, but it certainly is a very welcome first step.

%{color:red;}%UPDATE%: Naturally, I wrote too soon. It appears that this Executive Order won’t affect the current unlegislated earmarks, but only future ones, by which time it will have been overturned by the next President. The party affiliation of that President will make no difference to the repeal, but I think it clear that a GOP President will pay a much higher cost in political capital than a Democratic Party one, which means that Bush will have left a political trap that will only spring on a member of his own party. Not exactly building up his legacy.

Still inside the tea bag

I thought this post at Hot Air was interesting, in an indirect way. The subject is a video put out by the Giuliani campaign. It’s a tally of the newspapers that have not endorsed Giuliani, culminating in the NY Times endorsement of Senator McCain. The author wonders,

Why is this ad web-only? Except for Huckabee’s hyper-popular Chuck Norris spot and the infamous Christmas message spot, even highly rated web ads rarely do more than 50,000 views. Who’s going to see it except the sadly irrelevant blogosphere?

It seems obvious to me — the American Street is still not to the tipping point where this argument will gain much traction. The mendacity of Old Media is a paving stone in the blogosphere, but the politically active online community is, not quite irrelevant, but a minor contributor to the American Street. This might work next time, in four years, but I think the diffusion of active disdain of Old Media still has a few more years before it’s fully percolated out of the blogosphere.

P.S. There’s also the thought that most Old Media is highly ignorant or disdainful of the Internet, so there might not be nearly as much blowback in coverage of Guiliani as is likely if this were put out on mainstream channels. Or Guiliani is just running out of cash.

27 January 2008

A proper roll back.

There is a lot of commentary about the break through of the Gaza / Egypt wall (which, oddly, wasn’t any sort of oppressive or blockading wall until that point in the Standard Narrative). It just makes me think that the proper response to any call to return to the pre-1967 borders should be answered with the presumption that this means a return of Gaza to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan. That would be, of course, the proper “reset” of the borders, but see how many people (besides Israel) would be willing to actually do that. We can see just how unappealing such a thing is to Egypt in Egypt’s response to knocking down that wall.

26 January 2008

Non-thinking patterns

Via Hot Air

[source]

Jim A. Kuypers, assistant professor of communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech, reveals a disturbing world of media bias in his new book Bush’s War: Media Bias and Justifications for War in a Terrorist Age (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. 2006).

Convincingly and without resorting to partisan politics, Kuypers strongly illustrates in eight chapters “how the press failed America in its coverage on the War on Terror.” In each comparison, Kuypers “detected massive bias on the part of the press.” In fact, Kuypers calls the mainstream news media an “anti-democratic institution” in the conclusion.

“What has essentially happened since 9/11 has been that Bush has repeated the same themes, and framed those themes the same whenever discussing the War on Terror,” said Kuypers, who specializes in political communication and rhetoric. “Immediately following 9/11, the mainstream news media (represented by CBS, ABC, NBC, USA Today, New York Times, and Washington Post) did echo Bush, but within eight weeks it began to intentionally ignore certain information the president was sharing, and instead reframed the president’s themes or intentionally introduced new material to shift the focus.”

[…]

This goes beyond reporting alternate points of view. “In short,” Kupyers explained, “if someone were relying only on the mainstream media for information, they would have no idea what the president actually said. It was as if the press were reporting on a different speech.”

Honestly, I haven’t noticed this so much because I had long previously disregarded Old Media reporting on such subjects. I found it far better to go online, because webloggers, unlike the reality based community, likes to link to original sources to avoid this kind of transcription bias.

I thought I would also mention that I think that, once again, there’s little deliberateness in this kind of thing. I would bet money that most (if not virtually all) of the people who do this kind of misleading reporting do so because this is really what they hear, being unable to process information in way other than matching it to their pre-formed narrative. Every experience I have with journalists in real life encourages me to believe that they are really that mentally incompetent.

[[_cross posted at Low Earth Orbit]]

16 January 2008

More Clinton legacy

Pajamas Media has an article about how the Clinton scandals involving Monica Lewinsky destroyed the Old Media hold on the American Street. The theory is that Old Media’s failure to condemn former President Clinton’s actions lead to Old Media falling in to disrepute. I think that’s plausible, because Old Media’s dominance was typically fragile. Once the idea that Old Media was so disconnected from normal society was wide spread because of its reaction to the Clinton scandal became widespread, it would be expected that many people would become suspicious about other issues and it wouldn’t take much looking to discover Old Media’s incompetence and perfidity.

I think that this set of Clinton scandals was also the end of any significant influence from NOW and much of the old guard feminist movement as well. As others have noted, this was the scandal that made it obvious that NOW and its faction were political partisans, not really feminists at all. It just remains amazing to me how the Clintons can have both left such a trail of destruction yet still have so many supporters.

14 January 2008

Geek dreams

What I want in a web browser is the ability to block domains. That is, tell the browser “see this domain? Never ever load anything from there.” I find it very odd that none of the browsers I use has that capability. It would seem very useful and easy to implement. Ah well.

The one area of bi-partisan agreement

Via Instapundit is a report on improved ethanol generation.

Simply put, the Coskata process can produce ethanol almost anywhere in the world, using practically any renewable source, including feedstock, garbage, old tires and plant waste. And it can do so for less than a dollar per gallon.

I still say, follow the money. There is a strong conflict between improving ethanol production and the ability of the government to tax said production.

10 January 2008

At if you can't avoid the hurt, at least avoid the blame

It’s a clear sign of getting old that every Presidential election seems to have ever lesser lights leading the way. Here’s a good question: of the current GOP candidates, are there any you would vote for over President Bush? For me, that would be only Thompson and Hunter, but the latter has only a slightly better chance of the nomination than I do, and the former is barely hanging on.

But still, I think Right Wing News has it wrong on thinking Huckabee is a valid fall back. The argument is

While Mike Huckabee isn’t as conservative as I’d like, John McCain has done more damage to conservative causes over the last decade than anyone else

True, but McCain’s damage is a sunk cost — nothing we can do now will change that. The only valid question is, who is likely to do more damage to the nation and the GOP in the future if elected? Like Kerry vs. Bush, I can’t think of any policy matter I care about where Huckabee is better than McCain. Everything I read makes me think that Huckabee would almost certainly be the GOP Jimmy Carter. Such a President isn’t a good thing, but if the nation is going to take that sort of hit it would be better in the long wrong to have it be at the hands of the Democratic Party.

08 January 2008

Not learning from history

Brothers Judd wonders about why Venezuela surrendered to Chavism. One thing I found interesting as a mark of the success of Venezuela before Chavez was that there was little emigration but a lot of immigration. I wonder how much of Chavez’s success was due to that, in a variant of “Californication” where people flee from the results of bad political systems / decisions only to implement them again when they arrive at a better place.

Clearly this wouldn’t be the only cause, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it turn out to be a significant contributing one.

P.S. Rhyming history: Chavez’s temporary go slow on Socialism vs. Lenin’s NEP.

Separate from the mundane in more than one way

Apparently the Dallas Morning Herald named illegal immigrants ‘Texan of the Year’ and got a lot of blow back they didn’t expect. It seems like the typical out of touch Old Media event, but it does leave me wondering how Old Media can think they are capable of actually reporting on the USA when they understand it so poorly. Certainly we would expect any rational business, if they put out a bomb like this, to re-think their product strategy. But Old Media, for some reason, doesn’t even pause to consider such a thing1.


1 I was originally going to write “refuses to do that”, but upon reflection I don’t believe that, because you have to consider an idea before you can refuse it.

06 January 2008

Silent arma inter leges

This article which struck me as emblematic of the difficulty we in the Anglosphere have in confronting Caliphascism. The gist is captured in this paragraph —

In his opening statement, [Israeli Attorney-General Menahem] Mazuz extolled the [2006] war as “the most ‘lawyerly’ in the history of the State of Israel, and perhaps ever.” He explained, “The process didn’t begin in Lebanon 2006. It… is a gradual process of ‘lawyerizing’ life in Israel.” […] He claimed that the government and the IDF restricted their plans from the beginning to conform with perceived legal restrictions.

It is hard for me to even imagine the mindset that not only thinks this is a good thing, but thinks it good to publically announce it. I read it as the ultimate in form over function — it doesn’t matter how the war turned out militarily or politically, but only that it was conducted in a “lawyerly” fasion. Although the question would seem to naturally arise, how does one get the other side to be lawyerly as well, I have yet to see any “international law” advocate like Mazuz here provide a plausible answer.

Not fully understanding your own analogy

I find things like this hilarious (via) —

American presidential elections are not “home affairs.” American decisions have repercussions all over the globe. The American mortgage crisis affects banks in Europe. The insatiable American demand for oil makes the Arabian sheiks rich. The American refusal to care for the environment causes the North Pole ice to melt and coastal areas in Asia to flood. A weakened dollar and an immense budget deficit affect the global economy.

Hence, the world should be given the right to vote. Because the current situation is a blatant case of taxation without representation, against which the Americans rebelled in 1776. But of course the world will not be allowed to vote.

Well, then, revolt! Just like the soon to be Americans in 1776. Throw off those shackles of American imperialism! Evict the foreign troops and imposed governors and take your place on the international stage as independent nations! After all, regime change begins at home.

05 January 2008

Scary thought of the day

I can’t remember where I read this, but someone pointed out that for all of his flaws, Senator Obama is a more attractive candidate than either Al Gore or John Kerry, and both of those candidates almost beat President Bush. I think that may well be true, and I find it a scary thing to contemplate.

04 January 2008

Obama uses the force

Hot Air has a post about various socialist pundits swooning over Senator Obama. Is my memory going, or isn’t that very similar to the way various pundits / reporters swooned over then Governor Bill Clinton? I remember many jokes about “conversion” experiences by reporters who would start reporting on Clinton and end up as a partisan shill for him. I can’t say I would be terribly surprised to find that there are so many pundits who are so weak minded and emotionally overwrought that we’ll see a repeat for Obama.