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April 12, 2003


Roddenberry, Call Your Office:
I learned this morning over at the Expat Egghead that the Pentagon is developing something brutally nifty: a self-healing minefield.
The Self-Healing Minefield system is designed to achieve an increased resistance to dismounted and mounted breaching by adding a novel dimension to the minefield. Instead of a static complex obstacle, the Self-Healing Minefield is an intelligent, dynamic obstacle that responds to an enemy breaching attempt by physically reorganizing. The Self-Healing Minefield consists of surface scattered antitank mines that can detect an enemy attack of the minefield and respond autonomously, by having a fraction of the mines move to heal the breach. Since the minefield is no longer a static obstacle, an open breach cannot be maintained. The Self-Healing Minefield forces the enemy to attack the minefield and deplete the antitank mines surrounding the breaching lane by either repeated assaults or a wide area breach/clearance. In either case the enemy has increased their exposure to covering fires when compared to the current mixed system minefield. An ongoing modeling effort indicates that a self-healing minefield will provide greatly increased military effectiveness of the obstacle.
I reveal my geekiness when I say this — may my future children forgive me — but that sounds uncannily reminiscent of the self-replicating mines deployed during a war on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Life imitating art, I suppose. Then again, the idea of engineers at DARPA knowing their Star Trek is about as newsworthy, when you think about it, as the sun setting in the west.

Greg G. @ 12:10 PM | # |


The More, the Merrier
I would welcome these two to the liberal precincts of the blogosphere, but Digby and Billmon are already well-known to anyone who frequents the comment boards. They've set up blogs of their own now — and judging by two valuable posts available this morning, not a moment too soon:
  • Billmon details how American troops in Baghdad had to spend a day as armed-and-ready art critics; and
  • Dibgy unearths evidence from the International Herald-Tribune that Pentagon advisor Richard Perle has just begun to fight.
    "So the message to Syria, to Iran, to North Korea, to Libya should be clear. if we have no alternative, we are prepared to do what is necessary to defend Americans and others. But that doesn't mean that we are readying the troops for a next military engagement. We are not."

    The former official in Republican administrations said the United States also has "a serious problem" with Saudi Arabia, where he said both private individuals and the government had poured money into extremist organizations.

    "This poses such an obvious threat to the United States that it is intolerable that they continue to do this," he warned.

    Oy vey.

Greg G. @ 11:46 AM | # |


. . . and the Home of the Lame:
Forget about Universal Records — for the sake of all that's good and holy, we need to convince Apple to buy the Atlanta Braves instead. [Before AOL Time F$#*£-up finishes off what's left of them, that is.]

Apple, buying a baseball team, you say? Well, it makes about as much sense as Apple buying 50 Cent and U2.

While we're on the subject: has everybody heard about Apple's new spokesman?

Greg G. @ 10:18 AM | # |

April 11, 2003


In Case You Missed It . . . 
New at the Political State Report: Atlanta Mayor Leads Hypothetical Senate Race. Bon apetit!

Greg G. @ 9:08 PM | # |


Lavatory Literature
I don't usually study bathroom walls for worthwhile reading — and I can't say I'm about to pick up the habit — but while I was out earlier tonight with the usual environmental suspects, I spotted a limerick during a side trip to the facilities, and it turned out to be one I actually have to credit as kind of clever. [Well, bawdy, of course — look where I found it, for crying out loud — but still clever.]

For the sake of the squeamish [and those who have a pristine impression of me], I won't post it on the main page. But if, perchance, you're up for a little ribaldry, open the comments.

Greg G. @ 2:20 AM | # |


Much Music
Listening to an *.mp3 playlist right now that I've been cobbling together for a week or so — it's composed mostly of war songs, mixed in with a few tracks that feel more introspective. Events have superseded it to some extent, but it still sounds good:
  1. "To Washington," John Mellencamp
  2. "Spit on a Stranger," Nickel Creek
  3. "You Never Know," Dave Matthews Band
  4. "Look Inside America," Blur
  5. "Seconds," U2
  6. "Sound of Sounds," Gomez
  7. "You and Whose Army?" Radiohead
  8. "Here Comes President Kill Again," XTC
  9. "Army," Ben Folds Five
  10. "Ignoreland," R.E.M.
  11. "Life Is Bad," Shelby Lynne
  12. "Add It Up," Violent Femmes
  13. "War on War," Wilco
And that's where it peters out. Any suggestions on where to take it from here?

A confession: I'll cop to having no justification for putting "Add It Up" in there. Sometimes, though, you've got to just go with your feet, eh?

Greg G. @ 2:09 AM | # |


The Business of Government
I forgot to mention the other day what was undoubtedly the most important vote that lawmakers cast on crossover day. It was on hamburgers. No, really.

At about a quarter past six, the legislators — realizing they were about to pull an all-nighter — tapped the speaker to schedule a vote on what to order from the Varsity for takeout. [For those not from here, the Varsity is the world's largest drive-in, and undoubtedly the greasiest.] The sight of the electronic tally board lit up with green 'Y's and red 'N's by the representatives' names, all for a vote bannered simply as "Hamburgers" — priceless, I tell you.

Hamburgers beat hot dogs, by the way, about 95 to 72. I'm guessing that vegetarians had to abstain.

Greg G. @ 1:51 AM | # |


More on War 
It's nose to the grindstone time here at the Green[e]house, as the legislature heads into its final stretch. Still, I wanted to share some commentary from elsewhere on the web about the most recent events in the war:
  • Jeff Cooper:
    And, like most of those who opposed the start of the war, I'm thankful that it's gone as well as it has. Does that mean that I should now confess error and admit that this was a just war, properly initiated?

    I don't think so.

  • Tim Jarrett:
    Statues are falling, the Minister of Information and Saddam himself are nowhere to be found, the public is rioting happily in the streets.

    Great. Now what?

  • Michael Kinsley:
    The psychological challenge of opposing a war like this after it has started isn't supporting the American troops, but hoping to be proven wrong. That, though, is the burden of pessimism on all subjects. As a skeptic, at the least, about Gulf War II, I do hope to be proven wrong. But it hasn't happened yet.

  • Josh Marshall:
    The challenges in the way of our success are vast, challenges that could quickly snuff out all of this, challenges that I don't believe many who are guiding this effort truly understand. But today was a good day.

  • Jeffrey Sachs:
    President George W. Bush is presiding over the ruin of US foreign policy. A world united against the war in Iraq is only the start, since US diplomatic failure and neglect extend to virtually every area of foreign policy.

    Another stunning example lies in the Andes, where the US administration has proved to be incapable of even the simplest responses to a profound crisis engulfing the region.

Greg G. @ 1:35 AM | # |

April 10, 2003


Not With a Bang . . . 

Not to call the outcome with undue haste — bombs are still falling, men still dying, and children coming to grips with a life totally unlike the one they had known just days before. But with the scene in Baghdad, I think we can all but put a fork in this one — Saddam is done. Thank God the war was so mercifully short, considering what might have been.

I won't begrudge people who supported the war a chance to savor the moment — hell, watching those pictures makes me feel giddy, and I opposed the war. But pictures aren't everything. More to the point, it was never the first three weeks, or three months, that worried me. It was the first three years of discovering festering, unintended consequences of conquest — or, God help us, the first three decades.

To borrow from Churchill, as I often do: "[n]ow this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." We should wish ourselves godspeed on the rest of the voyage — for, as Tom Friedman said so rightly, and forebodingly, on Wednesday morning:

America broke Iraq; now America owns Iraq, and it owns the primary responsibility for normalizing it. If the water doesn't flow, if the food doesn't arrive, if the rains don't come and if the sun doesn't shine, it's now America's fault. We'd better get used to it, we'd better make things right, we'd better do it soon, and we'd better get all the help we can get.

Greg G. @ 1:13 AM | # |

April 08, 2003


Separated at Birth? 
Lawmakers forced me to flee from the Capitol tonight — debate was just running too long for any reasonable person to tolerate. Here's the story: South Georgia Democrats and state Republicans decided over the weekend to force a referendum on reviving the Confederate-knockoff state flag through the House. That prompted the Legislative Black Caucus to deliver payback . . . by having each of its 31 members go to the well to use their allotted 10 minutes of floor time. In full. Which should add up to . . . oh, about five hours of speeches.

They sprang the trap on 'crossover day,' no less. For the uninitiated, that's the date when legislation that has yet to pass at least one house no longer has any chance of reaching the governor's desk this year. Suffice it to say that business gets pretty frantic around that time; it's hardly the moment when legislators with a favorite project in the balance — and that's pretty much all of them — want folks to start throwing spanners into the works.

Payback's a mother, ain't it?

It's a quarter past 10 p.m. The thirty-first speaker should be wrapping up about right now. There's still the matter of all the other legislators who might want to get a few words in — not to mention the dozen or so other bills on the calendar. I sure hope they packed their pillows with them this morning.

But I digress. What prompted me to write this post was a thought that hit me this afternoon, while I sat up in the House gallery looking down at the flag mockup that the pages had left on the desks.

As part of the referendum bill, the governor's office and some lawmakers worked up an interim flag — yet another new design to throw into the mix, just to get rid of the work of that rascal scalawag, Roy Barnes. This flag — call it the new new flag — would supplant a banner the legislature adopted in 2001.

[That's right: 2001. People keep cars longer than that, right?]

Anyhow, here's this year's model:

Okay — now take a look at another flag, and tell me you don't see a resemblance:

Congratulations, Georgia lawmakers. You've just reinvented the flag of Taiwan.

Greg G. @ 11:09 PM | # |


Strutting on a Grave
The gracious words of Sen. Norm Coleman, Republican of Minnesota:
To be very blunt and God watch over Paul's soul, I am a 99 percent improvement over Paul Wellstone," Coleman, R-Minn., said in a front-page story published in Roll Call. "Just about on every issue."

. . . In the story, Coleman reflected on his election to the Senate and said "there is a lot of anger" still coming from Wellstone forces.

"They lost their champion and they thought something was taken away," he told the newspaper. "All you can do is say, 'Hey, I mourn the loss, but I am here and I am going to do what I think is the right thing to do, and thank God I have a chance to be here.'"
Somebody remind the gentleman from Minnesota — and I use that term advisedly — that it's bad form to crow in public.

Link courtesy of the Daily Kos.

Greg G. @ 10:23 AM | # |


Let Us Pray
Now here's one faith-based movement I can get behind.

Greg G. @ 12:25 AM | # |

April 07, 2003


Not Cool—
Note to bloggers everywhere: either attribute to your sources or do your own work.
Wired News // Daniel Forbes :: "Noted Warblogger Cops to Copying":

Like any number of webloggers trying to make their mark with commentary on the war in Iraq, Sean-Paul Kelley knew geography and career experience didn't favor him.

Kelley -- the man behind the wildly popular site The Agonist -- lives in Texas, worlds away from the war's front lines. And his reporting résumé added up to a mere three weeks at a local paper. Still, for the last few weeks, he had managed to post several dozen war-related news items a day on his site.

Some of the information was attributed to news outlets and other sources, but much of it was unsourced, particularly the almost real-time combat information presumably gleaned from a string of high-level sources worldwide.

Kelley's insightful window on the details of the war brought him increasing readership (118,000 page views on a recent day) and acclaim, including interviews in the The New York Times and on NBC's Nightly News, Newsweek Online and National Public Radio.

The only problem: Much of his material was plagiarized -- lifted word-for-word from a paid news service put out by Austin, Texas, commercial intelligence company Stratfor.

"You got me, I admit it.... I made a mistake," Kelley said. "It was stupid."

In a series of interviews with Wired News, Kelley changed his story several times. At first, he said he used just four or five Stratfor items a day without crediting the company. Later, he owned up to "six or seven days when half was from Stratfor."

Aside from a few scattered attributions, Kelley presented Stratfor's intelligence as information he had uncovered himself, typically paragraph-long reports detailing combat operations in Iraq. He took these wholesale from a Stratfor proprietary newsletter,, which Kelley admits he subscribes to.

"Many postings on the (Agonist) pages I looked at are word-for-word verbatim," said Stratfor chief analyst Matthew Baker.

Plagiarism is theft. Period. As a Virginia graduate, I feel adamant about that, and have no wish to associate myself with anyone who engages in it. Consider him gone from the blogroll.

He should consider himself lucky that the people at Stratfor were so gracious about this — if he were a U.Va. student, he'd be looking for another school right now.

Greg G. @ 10:20 AM | # |