Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for March 22nd, 2008

Anita O’Day, 1919-2006

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Anita O’Day was one of the great women jazz vocalists, singing with any number of bands and small groups: the Gene Krupa Band, the Woody Herman band, and Stan Kenton’s Jazz Orchestra. The Wikipedia article at the link is excellent.

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Written by Leisureguy

22 March 2008 at 10:00 am

Posted in Jazz, Music

Good post and good points

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Well worth reading.

Written by Leisureguy

22 March 2008 at 8:54 am

Posted in Iraq War

Lessons (not) learned

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In contrast to John Cole’s learning lessons from the Iraq debacle, most do not. Glenn Greenwald:

Slate is publishing a series of articles from so-called “liberal hawks” who supported the invasion of Iraq, asking them to reflect on “why they got it wrong.” Most of the pseudo-regretful war advocates oh-so-nobly blame others (“I didn’t realize how incompetent the Bush administration could be” — Jeffrey Goldberg; “I trusted Colin Powell and his circumstantial evidence – for a little while” — Fred Kaplan; “I underestimated the self-centeredness and sectarianism of the ruling elite and the social impact of 30 years of extreme dictatorship” — Kanan Makiya).

Some claim — like the job interviewee who cites “excess diligence” when asked to name their worst fault — that they were simply too starry-eyed in their Goodness and purity (“Maybe the fall of this horrifying regime would serve as an example to all the other despotisms in the neighborhood” – Josef Joffe). Only one of them candidly admitted that he was motivated by rage and a base desire for vengeance (“I wanted to go to ‘them,’ whoever ‘they’ were, grab them by the neck, and get them before they could get us. One of ‘them’ was Saddam Hussein” – Richard Cohen).

But virtually every line of rationale is purely utilitarian in its reasoning. The most unadorned admissions of error amount to little more than a concession that they simply assessed the costs and benefits inaccurately. And even with that extremely narrow concession, none of them — either in Slate or elsewhere — even reference in passing the fact that the war they cheered on ended the lives of hundreds of thousands (at least) of innocent Iraqi citizens and caused the internal and external displacement of millions more. That just doesn’t exist in the calculus.

More strikingly, not a single one of them appears to have learned the real lesson worth learning from the whole disaster:

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Written by Leisureguy

22 March 2008 at 8:45 am

Posted in Iraq War

Things most people cannot do

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Like raise one eyebrow. Here’s the list.

Written by Leisureguy

22 March 2008 at 8:40 am

Posted in Daily life

Is the Clinton campaign over:

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From Mark Kleiman:

Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen finally have noticed that the empress has no clothes:

One big fact has largely been lost in the recent coverage of the Democratic presidential race: Hillary Rodham Clinton has virtually no chance of winning.

The Clinton campaign no longer has any plausible path to victory, and it may be running out of cash. Like the Road-Runner, it’s managed not to look down until now, but it can’t continue to run on thin air forever.
Ever since March 4, when Hillary Clinton gained only some single-digit number of delegates against Obama in her two “firewall states” (Texas and Ohio), it’s been obvious that Obama is going to go to the convention with a pledged-delegate lead that the superdelegates aren’t going to reverse. That’s why I’ve been calling the Clinton campaign a zombie: dead, but still walking and capable of doing damage.

For a moment, it looked as if the Jeremiah Wright video might be the sort of catastrophic event that could knock Obama out of the race. But his Philadelphia speech seems to have stopped the bleeding as far as the polls go, and there’s reason to hope Obama’s numbers will keep getting better as the positive response to the speech has a chance to sink in. The most striking part of the story in my eyes was “the dog that didn’t bark”: not a single Obama delegate (or endorser) jumped ship, and Clinton picked up only a single superdelegate, John Murtha.

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Written by Leisureguy

22 March 2008 at 8:27 am

Posted in Democrats, Election

OLPC resources

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I was looking around for OLPC resources, and found the Help site, which explains how to use each of the pre-installed programs, and the OLPC Wiki. The Wiki will be useful once the Replacement Parts section is published—it turns out that the rubber membrane key cover is rather thin and delicate and a young fingernail and tear up one edge—on the “u” key, for example—necessitating replacement. But my understanding is that this computer is designed for easy servicing in the field. Hope so.

Written by Leisureguy

22 March 2008 at 8:20 am

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Starting home

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Freedom Services, a transportation company, will pick me up at 4:45 a.m. tomorrow, so I’m starting home in the sense of beginning to gather my stuff, see that everything that should be in the suitcase is indeed there, charging my cellphone, and so on. The travel shave brush—exceptionally nice—will remain for the Son-in-Law’s use. Completed books (the two Alastair Reynolds novels) will go into the suitcase, freeing the carry-on for unread books.

Written by Leisureguy

22 March 2008 at 7:07 am

Posted in Daily life

Special 218 for a special weekend

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I had no idea of the confluence of holydays, but in recognition of the specialness of the occasion, I used some of The Son-in-Law’s Special 218 shave stick by QEDusa.com. I really like Special 218 a lot, and I’m pleased that he’s also a fan. Another great lather, and the Gillette blade shaved as smoothly today as it did a week ago. Very nice shave, due to lather, blade, the Merkur HD, and my skills. The aftershave was one more use of the Booster’s June Clover that I brought for him. Feeling good.

Written by Leisureguy

22 March 2008 at 6:32 am

Posted in Shaving

Acknowledging error

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John Cole lays it on the line:

I see that Andrew Sullivan was asked to list what he got wrong about Iraq for the five year anniversary of the invasion, and since I was as big a war booster as anyone, I thought I would list what I got wrong:

Everything.

And I don’t say that to provide people with an easy way to beat up on me, but I do sort of have to face facts. I was wrong about everything.

I was wrong about the Doctrine of Pre-emptive warfare.
I was wrong about Iraq possessing WMD.
I was wrong about Scott Ritter and the inspections.
I was wrong about the UN involvement in weapons inspections.
I was wrong about the containment sanctions.
I was wrong about the broader impact of the war on the Middle East.
I was wrong about this making us more safe.
I was wrong about the number of troops needed to stabilize Iraq.
I was wrong when I stated this administration had a clear plan for the aftermath.
I was wrong about securing the ammunition dumps.
I was wrong about the ease of bringing democracy to the Middle East.
I was wrong about dissolving the Iraqi army.
I was wrong about the looting being unimportant.
I was wrong that Bush/Cheney were competent.
I was wrong that we would be greeted as liberators.
I was wrong to make fun of the anti-war protestors.
I was wrong not to trust the dirty smelly hippies.

I mean, I could go down the list and continue on, but you get the point. I was wrong about EVERY. GOD. DAMNED. THING. It is amazing I could tie my shoes in 2001-2004. If you took all the wrongness I generated, put it together and compacted it and processed it, there would be enough concentrated stupid to fuel three hundred years of Weekly Standard journals. I am not sure how I snapped out of it, but I think Abu Ghraib and the negative impact of the insurgency did sober me up a bit.

War should always be an absolute last resort, not just another option. I will never make the same mistakes again.

Somehow I can’t see George W. Bush making an admission of this sort, even (especially?) to himself.

Written by Leisureguy

22 March 2008 at 4:59 am

Posted in GOP

Holyday convergence

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Interesting:

Yesterday, more than a billion Christians around the world marked the gravest observance on their calendar, Good Friday, the day Jesus died on  the cross. This will be followed by Easter Sunday tomorrow, which will mark his resurrection.

But unlike some holy days — say, Christmas, which some non-Christians observe informally — on this particular Friday, March 21, it seemed almost no believer of any sort was left without his or her own holiday. In what is statistically, at least, a once-in-a-millennium combination, the following occurred yesterday:

* Good Friday.

* Purim, a Jewish festival celebrating the biblical book of Esther.

* Narouz, the Persian New Year, which is observed with Islamic elaboration in Iran and all the “stan” countries, as well as by Zoroastrians and Baha’is.

* Eid Milad an Nabi, the Birth of the Prophet, which is celebrated by some but not all Sunni Muslims and, though officially on Thursday, is often marked on Friday.

* Small Holi, Hindu, an Indian festival of bonfires, to be followed today by Holi, a kind of Mardi Gras.

* Magha Puja, a celebration of the Buddha’s first group of followers, marked primarily in Thailand.

Half the world’s population would have been celebrating something, said Raymond Clothey, Professor Emeritus of religious studies at the University of Pittsburgh in the US.

Delton Krueger, of http://www.interfaithcalendar.org, which follows “14 major religions and six others” counted 20 holidays altogether (including some religious double-dips, like Maundy Thursday and Good Friday) between the 20th (which was also quite crowded) and the 21st. He marvelled: “There is no other time in 2008 when there is this kind of concentration.”

And in fact for quite a bit longer than that. Ed Reingold and Nachum Dershowitz, co-authors of the books Calendrical Calculations and Calendrical Tabulations, determined how often in the period between 1600 and 2400 AD Good Friday, Purim, Narouz and the Eid would occur in the same week. The answer is nine times in 800 years. Then they tackled the odds that they would converge on a two-day period. And the total is… only once: yesterday.

And that’s not even counting Magha Puja and Small Holi.

Written by Leisureguy

22 March 2008 at 4:44 am

Posted in Religion

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