I can say with certainty that I will not vote for John Kerry for the Democratic Presidential nomination because of his pathetic, anti-intellectual hatchet job on Howard Dean. He can feel free to argue with Howard Dean, but to have his flack say that Dean is unfit to serve as Commander in Chief for stating the obvious fact that our position of world primacy is not absolute and eternal is cheap, stupid, and insulting to anyone with half a brain. I realize this is politics we’re talking about here, but in my book, playing for the moron sentiment is a guaranteed vote loser.
A French philosopher who went to Pakistan to investigate Daniel Pearl’s murder says he was kidnapped for the reasons everybody already knows, but that he was killed because he knew too much. Considering the past ties of Pakistan’s intelligence service with Osama bin Laden, terrorists in Afghanistan, and the terror groups that operate in Kashmir, the report seems credible.
Looks like Saddam Hussein decided to write his own birthday card this year. Of course, if Saddam is grievously wounded or dead, as many speculate, the more interesting questions are who actually wrote the letter, and why they would do so.
Something occurred to me last night about Apple’s new music service. The killer advantage here for Apple is that their DRM locks Mac users into the Mac platform for the long term. Maybe this will change, but right now you can only play the tracks purchased through Apple’s music service on a Mac. Once you’ve bought an iPod’s worth of music, you have several gigs of reasons why switching from your Mac to a PC would be a really, really bad idea. I guess you could go to the trouble of ripping all your songs onto CD and then ripping them back onto your PC as MP3s, but that brings about a loss of quality and is a huge pain to boot. Maybe I’m way off here and soon there will be a PC app that will Apple’s audio files, but in the meantime, this looks like a particularly fiendish way to make sure that people who switch stay switched.
Update: a number of people have written to tell me that Apple is hiring people to work on a Windows version of iTunes. That nixes my theory that the record companies only acquiesced to this plan because it was for the Mac only and thus constrained the market size. Of course, maybe the record companies won’t sign on to the Windows version until they see how the Mac market shapes up. Who knows?
Eric Sink wrote an interesting piece about how software developers must deal with the abstractions in their environment to deliver software. Unfortunately, toward the end he goes on a .NET vs. Java jag that really has nothing to do with his piece, and indeed was total and complete flame bait. Unsurprisingly, he follows up today to explain himself. This is one way that the lack of an editor can hurt weblogs. The temptation to digress when writing is intense, but every time you do it, you risk people ignoring the point you were trying to make by focusing on your digression (particularly when it’s inflammatory). In any case, Sink’s piece is worth reading, particularly if you ignore the pointless partisanship at the end.
The Justice Department has pressed charges against Mike Hawash.
Joe Conason busts Thomas Friedman for his WMD flip flop. Friedman, who once talked about things like international legitimacy and going to war under false pretenses, now seems to say that because Saddam Hussein was a brutal, murderous dictator, it’s all good. The truth is that WMD never really did matter, at least to the people making the decisions. They wanted to show the (Arab) world that we’re not to be trifled with, had a major hate going for Saddam Hussein, wanted to help out Israel, and liked Iraq’s geographical location, so they made up a reason for us to go to war, and here we are. Why did everyone at the UN press us so hard on the WMD issue? Because they knew, just like everyone who was paying attention, that the WMD talk was a big lie and being ordered by the US to just suck it up and pretend like it wasn’t a lie pissed them off. Is that really so hard to understand? In a sense, Friedman is right — except in the wrong way. Most people in the world aren’t going to see the war as legitimate regardless of whether or not WMD are found.
Henry Blodget, the famous Merrill Lynch analyst/stock shiller who once predicted that Amazon.com’s shares would go to $400 has been banned from the securities business for life. He also had to forfeit a ton of cash, and is probably still richer than I’ll ever be.
One of the many truly evil things Saddam Hussein did was drain the marshes in Southern Iraq as part of a program to suppress the “marsh Arabs” that had lived in that region for literally thousands of years. It looks like there’s talk of restoring the marshes, if possible. It’s going to take a lot of cash, though, and ultimately, the unique culture of the marsh Arabs will probably never be restored. Maybe anthropologists can document it so that it lives on in the annals of history, if nowhere else.