The BlogMD Initiative

Well, it’s finally time for me to stop being cryptic. As I’ve hinted in various ways over the past weeks, I’ve been working on developing a new project in the background for some time. And it’s finally ready to see the light of day.
The Initiative is a proposal and a project designed to focus attention on the problem of “metadata” in the blogosphere. The goal is to bring together any and all interested parties — including weblog authors and readers; weblog software developers, and “metadata application” developers (folks building things like my old Ecosystem) — to try to develop open standards to describe the typical metadata which would be useful to track about weblogs. And to then implement those standards into reality; building them into future blogging tools and applications.
It is an ambitious goal, but happily, I’m not alone: I am pleased (and fortunate) to be joined in the project by Phillip Pearson of the Myelin Ecosystem and Dean Peters of In addition, we’ve specifically invited several other Blogopshere notables to join the effort; and more generally, we are asking everyone interested to come and participate in the discussion and the work of the project.
The BlogMD site, currently hosted here at TTLB, should have everything you could possibly want to know, so go take a look; it include a detailed Concept Doc, a high level Key Benefits summary, and of course, a FAQ. And most importantly: we’ve set up a Forum (which anyone can post to) for discussion of the effort. And trust me, we’ve got plenty to discuss!
Finally, I’d like to express my personal thanks to those who’ve provided feedback and helped me get this thing off the ground; y’all know who you are.
This is, as Churchill is famously quoted, not the end; nor is it even the beginning of the end. But it may be the end of the beginning… so come join in, before you miss the fun!

A Lazy Bastard Bear

Ah, fanmail! One of the joys of blogging:
Listen here, you’re a lazy bastard for not updating that Blogosphere on a regular basis. If you start something like that, keep it updated!
A lot of the bloggers out there are pining away for a move up your ladder. Of course, by the time you get around to updating the list, all their best posts with the most links are gone!
[Name withheld in a inexplicable moment of courtesy]

Somebody’s grumpy that they’re not getting their ice cream on time, I see.
Well, all I can suggest is this:
1) Go read the Myelin Ecosystem. Phillip, being a non-lazy bastard, updates every single day. And his routine does a bunch of other stuff mine never did. Yes, no cutesy categories — but if you’re suffering withdrawl, print out the category names, tape them in the appropriate spots down the side of your monitor, and it’ll be almost the same.
2) Coming rather soon (perhaps Monday?) you’ll all see the start — not the finished product, but the start — of the project that is one of the major reasons why the Ecosystem isn’t getting updated. And if it is successful, I can quite comfortably assure you it will make the usefulness/amusement factor of the Ecosystem pale in comparison. Hint hint hint.
Hmmm. Now that I think of it, those aren’t the only suggestions I could provide for the gentleman, but I’ll be nice and assume his message was meant in the spirit of gentle fun and admiration… where did I put those rose colored glasses….

Blogging Youth Unite!

The Review pointed me to Sibo Lin, a high school senior with his own blog.
I was a bit of a online juvenille delinquent back in the day myself, so I checked it out, and indeed Sibo’s got some interesting stuff. It helps that he’s a student at Signature School, a charter school in Indiana, and so has some ready-made good topics close at hand. Check out his righteous Fisking of the public-school official who ‘s attempting to blame his budget problems on the charter school.
So first: welcome to the neighborhood, Sibo!
And second: this sparked my interest in the Blogger Youth movement, if there is such a thing. (Yeah, I’m getting all nostalgic again, sue me). Anybody care to point at other young bloggers? For my purposes, no purely personal blogs, please — nothing wrong with ’em, they’re just not my cup of tea. I’m looking for youngsters who are actually addressing issues — any issues — of some kind.
And by the way: if you’re a young lad or lass reading this right now, and you don’t have a blog yet, it is not too late. Go sign up at BlogSpot, show me at least two or three solid posts, and I’ll link to you. Yes, I am attempting to disturb the system I am measuring, thank you very much.
Hmmm… there might be a TTLB prize in this somewhere for the youngest polito-blogger out there, but we’ll see…

RNC Seeks Donors With Poor Memories

So I’m browsing through my pile of mail, and come across a letter from none other than the Republican National Committee. Interesting, I think; I don’t generally get political mailings — let’s have a look.
So I open it, and I see:

There’s just one problem. It shows my “Membership Status” as “Lapsed”.
And I’ve never given the RNC a dime in my life, nor ever had any association with the group whatsoever.
This, I think, is an example of a technique I’m beginning to see employed more and more frequently with groups soliciting donations. Somebody in development somewhere decided that it is far easier to convince people to give money to a group if they think they already did so in the past. Nevermind if they never actually did: just try to convince them of it anyway!
I’ve also noticed this several times because I (perhaps foolishly) actually donated to the local police association, and have since been besieged by law enforcement and emergency service organizations calling to get their piece of the Bear pie. I am fairly sure that several of them used this exact technique — just a few days back, a representative began the call by saying he’d like to “Thank me” for my previous donation last year, and ask if I would donate again. Which was, unless I’m going completely senile, a bald-faced lie, as I had never donated to the group in question ever before.
(I would document more clearly the groups in question, but as they were phone calls, I wasn’t in blogger-mode at the time and my main concern was making them go away, not reporting. But I shall the next time…)
Anyway, this is fairly low stuff, and I’m certainly unimpressed with the RNC for resorting to it. It’s certainly unethical, and it wouldn’t shock me to hear if it was illegal, as well. (Is there a lawyer in the house?)
I’ve sent an inquiry to their web contact; we’ll see if they come back with a reasonable explanation. In the meantime, I’d like to hear from others who have had similar experiences. Am I the only one noticing this trend?

Republicans of Georgia: Thanks!

Well, the Younger is out, even if McKinney the Elder still has a chance to save his anti-Semitic hide in a runoff.
I’m struck by the whole Republican crossover vote issue in this election. CNN quotes McKinney in her concession as saying:
“Tonight we saw massive Republican crossover into the Democratic primary, and it looks like the Republicans wanted to beat me more than the Democrats wanted to keep me,”
The interesting thing to me here is that traditionally, “abuse” of the ability to cross-over and vote in the other guy’s primary is generally intended to ensure that the weaker candidate wins — so then your party’s candidate can defeat them easily in the election.
In this case, Republican cross-over voters actually seem to have voted their conscience, and did the country a service while doing so.
I’m sure the Republican candidate will have a harder election battle ahead of them because of this. But it, will, we can hope, be a battle based on issues — or at least, more so than it would have been if I-haven’t-been-kidnapped-by-aliens-but-my-brain-has Ms. McKinney were still in the race.
I think all we can say to the Republicans of the 4th District of Georgia is “Thanks.” And let us remember that occasionally, once in a while, if you look long and hard enough, you can find honor in American politics.

Al Qaeda Home Videos: bin Laden’s Epitaph?

Brief thought of the day: The of the al Qaeda videotapes appears to be me to be the most convincing evidence yet that bin Laden is, in fact, dead.
Experts seem to see this cache as highly significant at least, and quite possibly bin Laden’s personal library. CNN has indicated that they obtained them from a source who found them in a house bin Laden had previously stayed in.
So: one can presumably understand that bin Laden or his close associates might abandon the cache in haste to depart the scene in Afghanistan.
But: why, then would bin Laden and/or his top aides never bother to send somebody — anybody — back to retrieve the tapes?
Unless, perhaps, everyone who knew of the tapes last location was, in fact, dead dead dead.

Bear for Hire

I swear, I had already decided to do this before the Quick did yesterday. But ah well, here goes anyway:
I’ve concluded it may be time for me to move on to greener pastures than my current employment gig, and am looking for any help my kind readers and fellow bloggers might provide. To drop my usually-at-least-pretending-to-be-humble blogging style for a moment, here’s my pitch:

  • I am a senior software development manager with extensive experience delivering large-scale and high-risk projects for one of the top worldwide information technology consulting firms;
  • I have over ten years of experience spanning the full software lifecycle including requirements analysis / design, implementation, testing, and software support & maintenance;
  • I have worked most recently in the web development space, and have experience in web portal implementation, content management systems, and web infrastructure;
  • I am seeking a position in the Orange County/Los Angeles area which does not require significant travel.

In addition to these qualifications, I am also (as should be obvious) the creator and publisher of The Truth Laid Bear, a weblog which in a few short months has met with significant success, and is now ranked in the top 10% of weblogs by incoming links, as calculated by the Myelin Blogging Ecosystem. In addition to writing content, I also created and implemented the full site design myself (with the exception of the bear-at-typewriter logo, which was drawn by Sekimori from my spec) using Moveable Type, and am the creator of the original Blogosphere Ecosystem.
My default goal is a ‘traditional’ position making use of my core professional skills; however, I’d be very interested in any offers or leads that relate to my more bloggerly skills as well. Yes, I will blog for food, if it comes to that.
I’d be very interested in hearing from anyone who can help me in the following ways:

  • If you have an actual position to offer
  • If you have suggestions of companies which might be hiring or specific leads that you think it might be worthwhile for me to pursue
  • If you have any general suggestions on career searches in my field (I’d love to hear positive/negative feedback on resume distribution and exec search firms) or more specific advice relating to searching in the Southern California job market

Thanks in advance to any and all who can help. And if my resume doesn’t strike your fancy: well then, go hire Bill!
Or even better, hire us both. (Hmmm… Bill, you think we should work out some kind of “buy one blogger, get the second free” deal? The marketing potential here simply boggles the mind…)

Religion of Peace Update

FUNTUA, Nigeria (Reuters) — An Islamic court in northern Nigeria ruled on Monday that a young woman must face death by stoning according to Muslim law for having a child outside marriage.
This would be the appeals court, by the way, which means that it’s actually second Islamic court to conclude this woman deserves to die in pain.
Drawing attention to the latest Islamic horror-of-the-moment is easy; way too easy, unfortunately. There rarely seems to be a lack of them. But what the hell do we do to stop them?
Diplomatic pressure; certainly. Economic sanctions? Maybe. Embargo and blockade? I guess; if it would really help. These are all nice tools, of varying utility depending on circumstance, and I heartily support any and all of them if and when they are truly deemed to be useful.
What about force? Would a powerful nation with the military might to stop this woman’s execution — either tactically by rescuing her personally, or more strategically, by toppling the entire government — be morally justified in doing so?
Yes folks, we’re back to national sovereignty, TTLB’s favorite CW whipping boy.
I argue that if you believe in national sovereignty as a concept, then (unless I’m misunderstanding the facts of the case), you must believe this woman should die. And not just die, but die publicly, brutally, and in misery.
She violated the laws of her own sovereign nation; she has been convicted and sentenced by the recognized government of her land. For those who defend national sovereignty, that’s all that you need to know, isn’t it? Nothing else matters.
So: do any of those who have defended sovereignty in the past have the courage of their convinctions to stand up and agree that yes, this woman should die? Or alternatively: would you agree that military action to save her would be morally justified?
I don’t think there’s a middle ground here: you have to pick one of these positions or the other. (Note that I’m not asking anybody to agree that military action would be the best or most wise way to deal with the situation; I’m asking if it would be morally just, which is different).
So which is it?
Update: Aziz Poonawalla, generally a standup fellow who I’ve had much fruitful discussion with in the past, is rather irked with my use of ‘religion of peace’ in my headline. In the comments, he states:

Is it possible for people to remember that religion != culture?
Bear, your use of the phrase “religion of peace” is as offensive as the idiot tribals morons who make boneheaded and immoral decisions based on tribal cultural traditions and then wrap them in an out-of-context Qur’anic verse to make sure no one dares argue. “

I think he mispelled Argh, but I’d have to check Monty Python to be sure. But leaving that aside, allow me to clarify/respond:
1) The claim has been made that Islam is a Religion of Peace.
2) I used that headline because, yes, I believe that claim is absurd.
3) However, that does NOT mean I believe that the opposite is true; that Islam is therefore a Religion of War, or Religion of Evil, or whatever.
4) In fact, I think it’s patently obvious that Islam (or any dense religious or cultural tradition) is sufficiently complex that it can be, and has been, interpreted in vastly different ways by various peoples. Some are good, some are bad, and some are indifferent.
5) The point being: it is stupid to condemn Islam as a whole for the actions of some of its followers. However, it is equally stupid to absolve Islam entirely.
Go get your coffee, Aziz — chill, my friend!

TTLB New York Photo Essay:
Reclaiming an Old Friend

I returned recently from New York; my first visit since last summer.
Much earlier; a few years ago, I made the city my home. I was a reluctant New Yorker: a New Jersey native drawn into the city by the sheer desperation of a 80-hour-a-week job combined with a 90-minute commute. Find a local apartment; devote a year to complete the project at hand, I thought, and I’d be free of the city.
Five years later, I finally left. The project went for two years, not one — and more astonishingly, I found myself seduced by the city. I stayed long after the job was over, and fell into the rhythms of Manhattan.
Eventually, though, I left, and headed West. In my time there, New York’s charms led to a dizzying, but necessarily temporary, flirtation. The city was, for me, like the romance you had in youth with someone you knew, in the end, was not right; but when it was over, you left with more than passing regret — for the ending, not for the time spent.
And so last September, whether deservedly or not, I felt that it was my city that was attacked; that it was not simply my fellow countrymen who were murdered, but my old neighbors.
I wanted, in this past visit, to reclaim my memories of New York. For a year, I — like many, I suspect — have found myself thinking of New York not in its glory, but in its sorrow. Not as a place where I spent five eventful years; but as a city-sized crime scene.
I was successful in this, I think. It was, frankly, a fairly dismal visit. But not for reasons of mourning, or fear, but for the more banal reason that New York in August, quite simply, sucks. The heat is oppressive, the humidity awful, and everything, everywhere, feels sticky and heavy. And it smells.
But that was OK. The New York of my memories was never perfect; on the contrary, it was maddening; a crazy-making place that demands a hate-love relationship even from its most ardent admirers. Other cities may strive to eliminate the negative; to create urban bliss — not New York. The negative is inherent, and inescapable, and everywhere. You can never truly love New York unless you also hate it.
I took a few photos during my visit; random scenes that, to me, reminded me of the real New York. I present them here for you to share as well.
You won’t find any photos of the Trade Center site here. And in fact, I offer these as an alternative to the horrific images that we have had burned into our minds in this past year. The next time you think of New York and see the wreckage; the next time you see an image of the towers burning — come here. Take a look at the real New York; the New York that is still standing; still open for business, and still pissing people off every day.
Others, obviously, are way ahead of me in this process (most notably those that actually live in New York, of course). And I certainly don’t desire or intend to claim any special revelation or vision here. But this was my journey; and if it offers anything to you as well, then so be it.
I didn’t get nearly as much time as I had hoped to spend picture-taking; so there’s really only a few modest shots here. But hope you enjoy them nonetheless; they’re
PS – I would love to see other, similar images that anyone else has captured of New York in the past year. If you have some and can post them yourself, let me know and I’ll link. (And I suppose if anyone wants, I’d be happy to add other folks’ photos, properly attributed, to the collection here — go ahead and email me if you like).

TTLB Book Club

So, what to do when news is light; the blogger is lazy and inspiration is fleeting with regards to good topics for the ole’ blog?
Why, get your readers to do your work for you by throwing out “discussion topics” which are simply thinly veiled attempts to avoid doing any real work on your own, of course!
(Hey, it could be worse: I could just go on about reform.)
So in that fine spirit, I present: TTLB Book Club!
No, I’m not swanky enough like Andrew to actually get authors to show up here (well, at least I don’t think I am). But I was thinking about doing some book reviews of my own, and figured I’d make it a group activity (see above, re: lazy).
So: What are you reading this summer? What new tome would you recommend to fellow TTLB readers? Share your literary recommendations!
Just to prove I’m not completely lazy, I’ll start with a few capsule notes on what I’ve been delving into lately.
Chasm City, by Alastair Reynolds, is a damned fine SF novel. Reynolds made his long-form debut with Revelation Space last year, which was itself a great read. The two are linked by virtue of being set in the same future universe, but share no characters or central plotlines; Chasm City, therefore, stands on its own perfectly well and one might begin with it or Revelation Space without fear of confusion.
Reynolds (no relation, far as I know) is now on my short list of SF writers who are still working on the Big Canvas of galaxy-spanning, Big Idea stories. (Other folks on that list would be Iain Banks, Peter F. Hamilton, and Ken MacLeod, incidentally. ) In Revelation Space, he gave us a broad tale of far-future humanity encountering some of the most original alien artifacts ever to make your hair stand on end. Real “wow, this makes so much sense it might be true but damn, I hope it isn’t” kinda stuff. In Chasm City, he zooms in, and focuses more narrowly on a much more limited set of characters to tell the tale of the mysterious city of the title, which has been stricken by a bizarre nanotech plague that affects both the city’s inhabitants, and the very structures of the city itself.
The result is that where Revelation Space occasionally felt unfocused — while still remaining brilliant — Chasm City is a tigher, cleaner read. I find myself torn: I enjoyed reading Chasm City more, but actually think Revelation Space might be a more significant work for the ideas it explored. But no need to decide: they are both fine work, and well worth your time.
Another new author who’s grabbed my attention is Richard Morgan. Morgan treads classic ground in his debut novel, Altered Carbon, which serves as a fine example of the SF noir mystery. It’s a classic setup: take an ex-soldier with superspooky combat training and place him in the middle of a murder mystery. Except since this is SF, the murder didn’t slow the victim down much — he’s been restored from his backup and wants our hero to prove to the world that he didn’t commit suicide, despite having been found in a classic ‘locked room’ having blasted his own head off with a laser.
Carbon reminded me very much of a sleeper novel from a few years back, Nocturne for a Dangerous Man, by Marc Matz. Both are excellent reads, if you like the SF-mystery genre. And both are first novels — Matz, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to have published anything since his debut.
One note, however: Carbon isn’t available directly in the US yet, so you’ll have to order via Amazon UK or other means; the link above should help you out.
OK, those are my two picks of the moment: now your turn!

What have they done for us lately?

An anonymous commenter dropped a brief note in on my post on Israel as a base for attacking Iraq last night.
I found it interesting, and suspect others may as well. Here it is, in its entirety:

This will not happen for the simple reason that Israel is not our ally
and never has been.
What have they ever done for us?

I think the basic answer is, “they’ve survived”. And surviving as the only functional democracy in that neighborhood is no small feat, and one that I do believe benefits U.S. interests, even when viewed from a purely selfish standpoint.
However, beyond that, I’m not historian enough to answer the commenters question with authority — but I think it does deserve a full answer.
So: Examples of direct actions by Israel which have benefited or supported the U.S., anyone?

A Blogger By Any Other Name

Steven Den Beste has stirred up the metablogging controversy o’ the moment with his critical of anonymous bloggers (although in truth, it’s more a criticism of one anonymous blogger in particular).
I missed the first few days of this debate, so I didn’t figure I’d have much to add. But after catching up a bit, to my surprise, nobody (that I’ve noticed) has made some of the most basic points that come to my mind around the subject.
First, I’m not a neutral party here — duh. But I think that’s worth pointing out — both about me, and about everyone involved in this discussion. Unlike many blogdebates, in this one, every single participant is clearly biased either on one side or the other of the debate — although conveniently, you can actually tell what those biases are (for the most part) right up front.
Those who are psuedonymous, like myself, will have an inherent bias to defend their right to have their views respected while not having their lives inspected (also known as having one’s cake and eating it too). While those who have chosen to come out of the closet publicly will similarly see a need to justify their own choice.
So: Let the readers beware. Caveat Emptor, indeed.
Second, I have to say I think the whole debate is, on its face, a bit pointless. (Why am I replying then? Not through my coffee yet and haven’t found a better topic for the morning, I suppose. Glad you asked?) Glenn summarizes aptly, as he is apt to do: “If you want to blog anonymously, fine. That’s your privilege. Responding to your anonymity differently than they would respond to your True Name is other people’s privilege. You pays your money, and you takes your choice.”
Yup. To state the point more generally: yes, this is yet another example of the delusion of community standards in blogging rearing its tiresome head. As I think I’ve made clear in the past, I stand firmly in the “Thou Shalt Do Whatever Thee Damned Well Pleases With Thy Own Blog” camp. Any exercise that takes as its goal deciding what the “right” way to blog is, in my mind, is not only doomed to an ignominous demise but should be speeded upon its way there by any and all bystanders with picks, axes, and whatever other implements of destruction happen to be handy. The absolute last thing blogging needs is standards of behavior; in diversity lies our strength, and in the back button lies our readers’ power to choose.
So: Anonymous, Pseudononymous, or True Name: all are absolutely, 100% exactly equally valid approaches to blogging in my mind.
That said, a few thoughts on psuedononymous blogging. Demosthenes clearly explains the position that one can, in fact, develop a blog persona with its own history and credibility separate from one’s real life identity — and I am here to tell you that this is certainly true.
For good or ill, “N.Z. Bear” is a bear with a past by now. I have allies and friends in the Blogosphere; I arguably also have at least one or two enemies. When a reader sees that name in a link, they likely have a predetermined inclination to either click, or not, depending on their feelings on my previous writings.
But it goes further than that: the web of back-channel communication, emails drifting back and forth between fellow bloggers and readers, also builds one’s reputation. By now, bloggers that I have interacted with in the past have a mental image in their mind of me, and my behavior. When I send an email to one of them they will either open it with interest, or prefer to ignore it, based on their history with me.
I would argue that this component of reputation in the blogosphere — ones past writings and past actions — is vastly more significant in most instances to readers and fellow bloggers than one’s real-life identity. Many True Named bloggers disclose their real life identity as simply their name; a contextually empty identifier that really adds nothing to their readers knowledge of them as a person. Sometimes a location is provided; sometimes a profession or a few tidbits on their hobbies, interests, or family.
But with the noted exception of “celebrity” bloggers whose names are already linked to a famous persona offline, I think in the broad majority of cases, knowing a blogger’s true identity doesn’t really add much at all to the reader’s contextual knowledge. Does knowing Amish Tech Support is written by “Lawrence Simon” in Houston, Texas really add anything to my enjoyment of his general silliness? No. Does knowing Martin Devon is — well, Martin Devon — increase my desire to sample his fine punditry? Nope.
There are exceptions, of course. When discussing matters in which speciality knowledge is addressed, knowing that a blogger has experience in that field is certainly relevant. Den Beste and Devon both have a history in software engineering; therefore I’m slightly more inclined to take their thoughts on that subject seriously. But note that this knowledge is generally completely independent of the blogger’s True Name — because, for example, I’ve made clear that I too, am a software professional by trade, so others may take that or ignore it in judging whether to accept my opinions on coding or any other subject.
Then there is the argument of “accountability” — that in some sense, disclosing one’s True Name makes one more accountable, more responsible for one’s writings. In a sense, I suppose this is true. But from a reader’s perspective, what does it mean, really? For the average blogger with no particular fame or public reputation, knowing their true name means to a reader…. what, exactly? That they can look up their address and phone number, if they so choose? Ironically, the only people who I can see as being truly interested in an individual’s true identity are exactly those that a pseudonymous blogger is seeking to avoid — the crank who wants to harass your family; the editor of the newspaper who you have Fisked; the corporate execs whose spin you have demolished. In short, disclosing one’s True Name seems to me to be helpful to those who wish you ill, but not of terribly much value to the readers and fellow bloggers who simply wish to interact with you on a civilized level.
Finally, one last point on the concept of separating one’s blogging identity from one’s True Name identity. I find it interesting, actually, that nobody has brought up the analogy of one’s professional life versus one’s private life. Because virtually everyone prefers to maintain a separation between those two identities in their day to day existence. Do you freely and completely discuss your political views with everyone at your workplace? Do you share the same level of detail on your personal life and family with those you meet in a workplace setting as you would with a similarly unknown stranger you met at a social gathering?
For most folks, I think, this kind of separation is quite natural; so much so that we don’t even think twice about it. For pseudonymous bloggers, I think, the seperation between Blog Name and True Name is much the same. The two are seperate and distinct not out of one’s shame for the other, but simply because the one life is not terribly relevant to the other.
But in closing, I will violate my own vow of pseudonymity, and finally reveal a photo of myself, in order to build my own credibility with those who fear the truly unknown. Take a look here, if you choose, and see me for who I am.
So now if you see me inexplicably giving Friends a good review, you’ll know why.

Thinking the Unthinkable

So I’m reading this BBC story about how is beefing up its anti-missile system. No relation to any upcoming military action in the neighborhood, of course; no connection at all. Nothing to see here; move along.
All fine and good. And then I’m pondering the (fairly lame) little map they provide to help out the geographically challenged who might not be able to recall exactly where the Jewish state lies in relation to Saddam’s hermit kingdom.
And an odd thought comes over me. A thought about military planning. About logistics. About U.S. military bases — or rather, the lack thereof in the neighborhood, to be precise.
A thought about a problem: where to put thousands of U.S. troops and tons of U.S. military hardware in preparation for an attack on Iraq.
A thought about a solution that surely has, until now, been deemed — well, unthinkable.
OK, enough fun with wordplay:
Will someone please explain to me why we aren’t using Israel as a major staging ground for the attack on Iraq?
Pre-emptive objection counterarguments:
1) Israel won’t allow us to do so, for fear of retaliation by Iraq.
Be serious. Israel is going to face retaliation from Iraq if the U.S. attacks, no matter what. They know this; Saddam knows this; we know this. Everybody knows this. It is in Israel’s best interest, therefore, to ensure that the U.S. assault is quick, decisive, and as efficient as possible. In their best interest, therefore, to provide such assistance.
2) We can’t involve Israel, because it will shatter the Coalition!
Excuse me, does the calendar read 1990? I didn’t think so. Do you see a Coalition anywhere around here? Didn’t think so either. News flash: there ain’t no Coalition, and there ain’t gonna be no Coalition, unless you count the U.S. and the Brits as making up a Coalition (I prefer to think of it as just one big happy English-speaking family — the Brits talk funny, but they do OK).
3) But our Arab allies will not stand for it!
Our who? Oh, you mean our fast friends in Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. Those Arab allies. Big fans of them, are we? Remind me again what that friendship is worth to us? I seem to remember Colin Powell taking the combined goodwill of all three of them down to his local Starbucks to pay for a latte; he still had to chip in about $2.50 in cash. And it was for a ‘short’.
As usual, I’m exaggerating slightly for effect here (but it’s not Guiness this time, promise). However, I do find it extremely interesting that in all the discussion of the dilemma we face in scrounging up military bases in the region — particularly with the friendly House o’ Saud declining to allow us use of our bases in Arabia — I’ve not once heard Israel discussed as a potential candidate.
Why? I trashed some lame answers why above; but surely there must be some legitimate ones that I’m not aware of. Or am I that bright, and is the U.S. diplo-military establishment that dense? Enlighten me, oh commentous readers… jumps ugly on .NET

You know, if those kids at don’t watch out, they may actually start churning out interesting product. Just when I think they’re just filing the serial numbers off yet another corporate press release, they throw me for a loop with a neat piece with some actual analysis in it.
Case in point: their demolition of Microsoft’s recent .NET initiatives.
Granted, it’s a bit of a fish, barrel, gun story, particularly when you’ve got Bill himself rattling off money quotes indicating his belief that launching .NET is more difficult than “getting to the moon or designing the 747.”
Note to Bill: No, it’s not. And even if it was, you probably wouldn’t want to point it out to folks. Because if it’s that difficult to build some reasonably straightforward architectural services on top of your operating system, then you’ve got bigger problems than a difficult sales pitch ahead of you.
Mr. Speaker, I’d like to yield the remaining balance of my time to Eric, Doc, and Dave… take it away gentlemen…

Memo to President Chen: Shut Up

Will somebody please tell this guy to the hell up?
You’ve got de facto independence. Wait twenty or thirty years and you’ll be able to get formal independence from a much-friendlier China — by which time you probably won’t even really want it.
If you start seeing Chinese jets on your radar and landing craft steaming towards your shores, give us a call; otherwise, leave us the hell alone. We don’t have time for this crap. We’re busy.
Now go away.

Taking out the trash

Good news: Iran has handed over 16 alleged Al Qaeda fighters.
Bad news: They’ve handed them over to that part of the Arabian penninsula currently dominated by the House of Saud.
Harken the BBC:

Iran detained the militants who sought refuge there after fleeing from Afghanistan Prince Saud told The Washington Post newspaper.
In an interview published on Sunday, Prince Saud said the Iranian authorities handed over the fighters in June, knowing that whatever intelligence was obtained from them would be passed on to the United States.

Prince Saud also makes with the hinty-hinty for the Beeb, alluding to alleged anti-al Qaeda games of footsie being played between the Iranians and the U.S.
But his quote along these lines confuses the Bear:
“Iran has not only co-operated with Saudi Arabia in this conflict in Afghanistan, but co-operated extensively with the United States…”
Weird. He says that like they’re the same thing.
Down in the casino, we’re offering long odds that these “al Qaeda militants” are low-level losers at best, and dupes at worst. Any takers?