Archive for May, 2007

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The Perils Of Posting Legitimate Questions On Blogs

May 31, 2007

You might just get your LIFE THREATENED!

First, the legitimate question:

Would Iran actually use nukes on Israel preemtively, considering the consequences?

One response:

#53 Iron Fist 5/31/2007 6:22:16 pm PDT

Are you willing to bet YOUR life that they won’t? I’d be willing to kill you if they do.

Pistol to the forehead OK with you? Beheaddings are so messy.*

My response:

So…you have a pistol and you’re not afraid to use it (on) me?

The response:

#102 Iron Fist  5/31/2007 6:50:09 pm PDT

#94 ChenZhen,

Actually, I’d prefer the blade, as there is a certian circularity to it.

I can arrange the pistol.

That you even question indicates that you think Iran’s using nukes is likely.

I agree.

Are you willing to bet your life they won’t?

Doesn’t sound like it.

I think I’ve finally spotted the elusive Troglodyte:

Troglodyte seems to have emerged from the mists of time untouched by human evolution.troglodyte.jpg Devoid of a single progressive idea and lacking the slightest awareness of social and cultural advances, Troglodyte has developed an incoherent political philosophy that he characterizes as “conservative” or “libertarian”, but which could be more accurately described as “bigoted narcissism”. His aggressive posturing often frightens off weaker, more timid Warriors. In pitched battle, however, Troglodyte easily loses control and his attack quickly degenerates into a rant. Just for the fun of it, Weenie, Issues. Pinko and Evil Clown will sometimes deliberately goad him into a towering rage.

What a wonderful netizen, huh?  But then I was reminded of this from the LGF FAQ:

Q. What’s the Iron Fist Rule?
A. “If you think you are too drunk to post, you are too drunk too post.”  First used on LGF by… er… well, you can probably figure that one out for yourself.

*As of this writing, Charles (LGF’s webmaster) deleted this comment.  The second one remains. 

And if you’re reading this Charles, I’d like you to know that I don’t appreciate having my life threatened on your website.  I don’t think you do either.  I’ve decided to post the exchange here on my blog (as documentation), but if it happens again I’ll consider posting it somewhere that gets more traffic.

Update 10/31/07:  Speaking of traffic, I am getting a lot of it from Sadly, No! today, so I thought it might be as good a time as any to add this search link:  LGF Watch: Iron Fist

…and while we’re on the subject, a real howler…

#278 LanceKates 10/31/07 12:23:40 pm

Sometimes, just for a day, I wish we could be as evil as they say we are.

If, for no other reason, just to show them the difference.

#279 Iron Fist 10/31/07 12:32:59 pm

re: #278 LanceKates,

It would be fun…

No shit?

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On “Fauxtography” And Politics

May 31, 2007

Disclaimer: I just want to make a preemptive statement because I know that some visitors will probably bring it up… I understand the power and influence a photograph can have.  There’s a good reason why the saying “a picture is worth 1000 words” exists.  In the past, I know that statement could be made without much chance of an asterisk being attached to it.  In our modern world, however, it can become a tad more complicated.  Given the fact that the majority of today’s images are shot digitally, and can be easily enhanced or altered by relatively simple software in a home computer, the concept that what you see in any particular image is representative of the reality that existed when the shutter originally opened can be brought into question.  In fact, we’re probably only six months away from the existence of technology that would make any live image indistinguishable from something whipped up on some kid’s home computer (if we aren’t there already).  So, I’m fully aware of the increasingly understandable skepticism that accompanies any picture that is deemed important enough to change the way people think about the world.  In other words, the age when a photograph could be used as reasonable proof that any event actually occurred is probably coming to a close.

On the other hand I’d like to think that, in the case of major news and media organizations (what most bloggers refer to as the MSM), we should apply some trust that the images being presented to us are genuine in their content.  Why?  Because the risk and consequences of being caught presenting fraudulent images outweighs whatever benefit the hypothetical agenda-driven manipulator might have in mind (on the whole).

That said…

Take a look at this image (click image for source and caption):

gazabomb.jpg
(Hat Tip: LGF)

Look fake to you?  Or, is this just what happens when a photographer points his or her camera in the direction of a bomb dropping and shoots a “burst“?  A lucky (if that’s the appropriate adjective) shot? 

At least one blog (Jawa Report) thought something was fishy.  They seem to have spent all day analyzing whether or not this image was genuine.  In fact, I haven’t seen this kind of critical assessment of images since the Music City Miracle.  If you ask me, there is a little more behind the skepticism than the first impressions of the visual. Are there some underlying political angles factoring into the painstaking deconstructing that was applied to this image?  In other words, did they want this image to be a fake? You decide…

For more on this and other images related to this event, visit Snapped Shot.

For some more of my take that I posted on LGF, start here.

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Thanks For The Nod Killgore

May 28, 2007

One of the cool things about running a blog is the fact that you can see when other people post a link to it.  Basically, if someone posts a link to your site, it shows up on your site stats page (the page will also tell you how many times the link was clicked).*

Anyway, I mention this because that’s how I happened to notice that my LGF pal Killgore Trout suggested my site to a blogger (Thanos) who was building a blogroll for LGF members specifically.  I certainly appreciate the mention.  On the other hand, I’m not sure if I appreciated the response:

#402 Thanos 5/27/2007 7:54:12 am PDT

I purposefully left the infamous ChenZhen out since the Title of the bloglink category is “Scaled Legion”. If Chen has scales, they’re plastic.

What I find interesting about that comment is the fact that Thanos joined LGF just 1 day after I did (a little over a year ago), and in that time period I’ve managed to pick up a couple of “hat tips”, while Thanos (as far as I can tell) still has none.

Now, I know I’m not your average LGFer. I accepted that early on. But if there would be some sort of hypothetical scorecard or ranking system for this so-called Legion, I believe it would read:

ChenZhen: 2
Thanos: 0

So there.

*Incidentally, this also means that Thanos will see this post. 😉

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BREAKING: Mark Steyn Doesn’t Like Star Wars

May 27, 2007

Somehow, for some unexplained reason, Mark Steyn’s opinion on the original Star Wars made memeorandum today.  And for reasons even harder to understand, I actually read it.  Steyn decided to commemorate the film’s 30th anniversary* by…bashing it …again (as he simply reprinted an opinion he wrote 10 years ago).  Well, since I already wasted a few minutes of my life reading Steyn’s witty poking, I figured I might as well waste a few more poking right back.

First off, does anyone really need to write a review on Star Wars anymore?  I mean, aside from maybe a few Amish people or some monks in Tibet, I think it’s pretty well established that people have seen that movie (probably multiple times) and have formed their own opinion on it.   Oh, it’s been 30 years.  Great.

Second, an even better question would be: Who really gives a rip what Mark Steyn thinks?  Steyn.  You know, one of those guys who was wrong about everything concerning the Iraq war, a guy who thought the VT students weren’t heroic enough, and a guy who I heard on the radio say that another terrorist attack on the US would actually be good for Bush politically.  Apparently, there are people out there who wait anxiously for Steyn’s opinion on anything and everything, so memeorandum gave him the nod. 

So, This is my “Sunday Steyn“. I’m putting it here ’cause I really, really, really, want to know what a Canadian-born former disc jockey turned neocon thinks about this icon of American pop culture. Don’t you?

*That goofy StarTrib piece, incidentally, was written James “The Bleater” Lileks.  If you want a good laugh, check out the Bleater’s mocking of the Democrats’ objections to Bush’s Iraq war policy from Oct. 2002.  Talk about being wrong.  It’s amazing that people actually still pay people like Steyn and Lileks for their opinions, and even more incredible that they are taken seriously. 

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Digg Search RSS Feeds Seem To Work For Every Keyword Except ‘Moonbat’

May 26, 2007

This is the oddest thing…

 A few months ago, I had this semi-snarky idea to use one of my 9 allowed RSS feeds to display a Digg search for the word ‘moonbat’ (see my post New Feature: Moonbat Watch).  For a while, it worked pretty well.  It was actually kinda neat to see how many Digg stories contained the word in the title or description.  Then, all of a sudden, it stopped working.  After a couple of attempts to re-do the widget, I finally gave up.  I guess I just assumed that Digg had changed something in their search RSS’s that was incompatible with WordPress or something. 

Today, I tried a different keyword for the search:  Bush.  I clicked on the little RSS, copied the url, and pasted it into the RSS widget.  Guess what?  It works like a charm!  What’s going on here?

So, someone please tell me that I’m not crazy.  Go to Digg, search for any keyword, click RSS, and you should see the feed page.  Then try ‘moonbat’ (or even ‘moonbats’) and see if it works.  When I try it, I get this error:

The XML page cannot be displayed

Cannot view XML input using XSL style sheet. Please correct the error and then click the Refresh button, or try again later.


The following tags were not closed: rss, channel. Error processing resource ‘http://www.digg.com/rss_search?search=moonbat&area=all&type=both§ion=news’.

 

I can’t seem to get that error for any other keyword. What happened Digg?  Did you sabotage me?

Update: I tried a few more words, and I did manage to get the error code for the word ‘witch’. I’m not sure if there’s any logic to what works or doesn’t. It should be noted, I guess, that ‘wingnut’ works just fine, however.

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WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance

May 25, 2007

I had an idea (strange, huh?). Originally I thought it would be neat to add political WordPress.com blogs in a special section of my blogroll, and create my own little community of amateur pundits that use the service. In a way, ALL WP.com bloggers are part of a community already, but I thought I’d start a club just for those who like to talk politics.

Most political bloggers will have blogs from other services in their blogroll.  Not everyone uses WP, after all.  There are advantages to staying within the community, however. One advantage would be ease of commenting. Once you’re logged in, you can hop from blog to blog without having to enter in tedious email info and quickly drop a comment (nice to have avatars too), and all discussions can easily be kept track of through the “my comments” section of our dashboards.  Another advantage: you don’t have to do a lot of work to ping these blogs.  All you have to do is link to a post, and it pings them immediately (leaving a pingback in the comments section).  With other blogs (or blog services), you may have to copy/paste trackback urls, and that can be a bit of a crap shoot.  It can work real slick for some blogs and not work at all for others (or at least I’ve discovered). Yet another advantage is how easy it is to search for tags within the community, but that is less special because services like technorati seem to be dialed into it as well. Anyway, you get the idea….

So, every so often, I’ll click on the WP ‘politics’ tag and check out what people are posting.  If I stumble upon a blog that I haven’t seen before, I’d just add it to the blogroll.  I’ve been adding a couple a week since I started it.  I’m sure there are more, so as time goes on this list will grow in my sidebar (under “wordpress political blogs”)

Then I started thinking. What if we formed some semi-formal alliance? A ‘club’ made up exclusively of WP.com political bloggers (right, left, and center) who could regularly exchange ideas and comment on others’ posts. So far I haven’t seen anything like that. Maybe it’s worth a shot?

I whipped up a ‘club’ button that we can put in the sidebar. You’ll have to forgive my photoshopping skills, but here goes:

wppoliblog1.jpg

If you want to add the button to your blog (it links back to this post), here is the code (with border):

<a href="https://chenzhen.wordpress.com/2007/05/25/wordpress-political-blogger-alliance"><img src="https://chenzhen.files.wordpress.com/2007/05/wppoliblog1.jpg&quot; alt="WordPress Political Blogger" /></a>

WordPress Political Blogger

…and without a border:

<a href="https://chenzhen.wordpress.com/2007/05/25/wordpress-political-blogger-alliance"><img border="0" src="https://chenzhen.files.wordpress.com/2007/05/wppoliblog1.jpg&quot; alt="WordPress Political Blogger" /></a>

WordPress Political Blogger

Update 11/2:  The alliance has become interactive!  The lowdown:

What I’m attemping to create here is a tool that we can use to make our blogs more lively and entertaining.  I’m not really forcing any obligations on anyone, so I don’t want you to get the impression that going along with this means that there’s going to be a whole list of expectations (beyond etiquette).  You don’t have to respond to every ping.   Just so you know.  

If you want to participate, there are just a few details…

  1. In order for this to work smoothly, everyone needs to create a page that can be pinged.  It took me about 2 min. to make mine: https://chenzhen.wordpress.com/wp-political-blogger-alliance/ .  And I need to know the link so that I can consolidate them, so just post it in that thread or respond in email once you’ve whipped it up.  That’s really the only requirement.  A handful of you already have done this, and the pings work beautifully.  The idea here is to compose a code that is easy to paste in your post that allows you to ping everyone in the alliance at the same time.*
  2. I don’t really like the idea of any one blogger “abusing” the tool by using it to try to dominate the discussion.  In other words, if you’re calling out and pinging the alliance 3 times a day it might get a little annoying.  Sure, it’s easy enough to just ignore such a thing, but nevertheless I think it would be akin to blog whoring just for the sake of blog whoring.  It’s kind of a fine line, and we’ll probably tweak the guidelines as we go forward, but for now I’ll stick with a rule of 1 per day max.  No minimums, since some of you might prefer to comment only.  And, it probably goes without saying, but we don’t want to double up on a topic either, so try to make sure that a story or headline hasn’t already had pings sent by someone else first.  If it has, and you’ve got your own unique analysis that you just spent like 2 hrs on, just link to that thread in your post instead.  We’ll see it.  Make sense?
  3. Be somewhat civilized.  This might be the hard part, ’cause a) there’s a very diverse crowd being pinged and b) it’s the internet.  In debate, you win by attacking the argument or idea, and you lose once you resort to attacking the person (there is a difference).  Keep that mindset, and we’ll be fine.  That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy a good blog war.  This will be a bit of a free-for-all, so I hope people are relatively thick-skinned when it comes to having  logic, facts, position, etc. challenged.  We’ll just have to see how this goes, cause I’m not sure if anyone has really tried anyting like this before. 
  4. This is about “politics”, so use the “politics” tag/category when you post, and only send the pings when you post about “politics”.  You might have a cool car, for example, but please don’t ping the whole group to show off the latest pics you just posted.  Also, consistent use of the “politics” tag in general means more views from the wider wordpress.com audience.

Luckily, it’s pretty easy as individuals to block urls and IP’s if #2 or 3 becomes a problem for someone.

* The up-to-date code can always be found in my sidebar (——>): 

Founder of the

WordPress Political Blog Alliance

WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance

Simply copy the “WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance” and paste it at the bottom of your post. Once your post is published, it will send a ping back to everyone in the alliance.  Easy!

Update 11/4: A tag (category) specifically for the alliance:

WordPress Political Blogs

Create the “WordPress Political Blogs” category and add it to your alliance-oriented posts.  In2thefray and I have already added the RSS feed for this tag in our sidebars, so we can see the latest offerings right on our blogs:

RSS WP.com political blog alliance

Even better, if everyone uses the tag consistently, the above link will provide a great chronological record of the posts within the alliance. In addition, you will have a record of your own contributions to the alliance in your sidebar (assuming you have added the “categories” widget).  Remember to use “WordPress Political Blogs” exactly (alternate spellings and abbreviations will be a different tag, technically)

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We Won The War, But Are Losing The Battle Against The Insurgency

May 25, 2007

It seems like a relatively novel concept, but I just thought I’d throw it out there.  Why?  Well, all too often I hear journalists*, bloggers, and pundits refer to our (the U.S.’s) military involvement in Iraq as “the War”.  I think there needs to be a distinction made here.  The thought came to me when I saw this story:  US urges Sadr to play ‘positive’ Iraq role (Hat Tip: LGF.)

The United States on Friday urged radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to play “a useful and positive role” in Iraq after his dramatic return to frontline Iraqi politics.

“Now that he’s back from four months in Iran, we hope he’ll play a useful and positive role in the development of Iraq,” said White House national security spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

Sadr called for national unity and the withdrawal of US troops in his first speech in seven months and the first since US commanders and Iraqi officials said in January that he had fled to Iran.

I know many bloggers and pundits have questioned the US’s tolerance of al-Sadr, and have wondered why we haven’t just taken him out, especially when his Mahdi army has been responsible for attacks on our forces.  This is where the aforementioned distinction becomes relevant…. 

In a war, the goal is to beat the enemy into submission, capitulation, or surrender.  This was easily done back in 2003, highlighted by Bush’s famous declaration of the end of major combat operations.  From that day forward, our military has been engaged in the reconstruction/nation-building efforts of Iraq, which has been severely complicated by a very persistent insurgency.  The reason why we haven’t ‘bombed al-Sadr’ is because fighting an insurgency is very different from fighting a war

If you read anything about counter-insurgency, you’ll see that effective tactics aren’t as black-and-white as just “killing the bad guys”. It is a complex and organic problem that constantly forces you to adjust and react. In fact, most of the effective counter-insurgency tactics don’t involve killing anybody. It’s more about winning ‘hearts and minds’, political maneuvering, and building alliances with the locals.  Killing someone with al-Sadr’s popularity would be extremely counterproductive to these efforts.

I suggest all visitors read David Kilcullen’s Twenty-eight Articles: Fundamentals of Company-Level Counterinsurgency (pdf).

Kilcullen, incidentally, is one of the of the guys that was brought in late with General Petraeus (some people say too late), to fix the problems our old pal Rumsfeld has created.  Namely, the fact that our troops are trying to win ‘hearts and minds’ in an environment where -4 years in- 51% of the Iraqi population approve of the attacks on Coalition forces (or more).  Some might call that an impossible mission, or, that we have already lost this battle.  Nevertheless, that is the mission they have right now, and is the correct way to frame what it is we’re doing over there.

Unlike other bloggers, I don’t see this in terms of ‘victory’ or ‘defeat’.  From a certain point of view, we already ‘won’ (Saddam is dead, WMD’s are gone/never found, and sovereignty established), and ‘lost’ (our window of opportunity for a successful reconstruction outcome has passed).  The debate should be whether this really is an impossible mission at this point, and whether it’s in our best interests to continue to pursue it.  I think the current domestic political scene is missing this by a longshot.

*A few news outlets will frame news on the conflict under the heading “Battle for Iraq” or something similar (which I consider accurate).