Weblog 2003


Using unconventional methods to battle the Iraqi insurgency

Seymour Hersch writes in The New Yorker about the Pentagon's plans for stopping the Iraqi insurgency using methods reminiscent of the Phoenix Program in Vietnam.  The plans include  fighting at the level of the terrorists and manhunting elements of the remaining Baathist loyalists. The U.S. is also getting significant help from Israel, who have much needed intelligence and a lot of experience trying to cope with an uncontrollable population.

These controversial methods have failed in the past (Vietnam) and are failing in the present (Israel). Can they work in Iraq?


Space tourists

Jodi and I spent Thanksgiving with family down in sunny Sarasota, Florida.  We also spent a few days at Merritt Island -- better known as Cape Canaveral -- and visited NASA's Kennedy Space Center.  It was a very interesting and rewarding visit to one of our country's national treasures.  The space program represents what is best in America.  NASA in the 60's achieved truly unbelievable feats of engineering and bravery that may not be matched for generations.  The program goes on, but without the national mandate that is necessary to continue to make great strides in space exploration.  I hope we take the time afforded by the recent tragedies to reevaluate our commitment to space.  If you have a chance to visit make sure to take the Up Close Tour.

You can see pictures from our trip here.


The Return of the King!

Pulitzer Prize winner Berkely Breathed is storming back onto the comics page on November 23 with "Opus," a Sunday only half-page strip.  Breathed is the creator of the much missed "Bloom County" and "Outland" comic strips of the 1980s and 1990s respectively.  Breathed expresses much contempt for the state of the current comics page, but feels it is now time to weigh in on the craziness that is current affairs.  IMHO, the only comic strips that even come close to the brilliance of "Bloom County" is the much loved "Calvin and Hobbes" and the currently running "Get Fuzzy."  Congrats to Berkely and good luck!


The Constitution does not apply if you're a suspicious Muslim

In the United States, American citizen Jose Padilla (also known as Abdullah Al Muhajir) has been labeled an enemy combatant
in order to justify his lengthy detainment without being charged and without representation.  The federal appeals court is hearing the case against the government.

Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen, was secretly deported to Syria -- by U.S. authorities -- and tortured for ten months. This has been a big story in Canada as his wife and family fought to win his release.  He was released on October 5, 2003, is now back in Ottawa, and has told his story.  Why would the United States deport a Canadian citizen (who was born in Syria) to a country known to use torture as a standard operating procedure?  Probably because they knew Syria would torture him and would pass on the "intelligence" they gathered.


Leaked report demonstrating Iraq-al Qaeda links?

A reporter for the Weekly Standard was privy to a leaked report written by Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith for the Senate Intelligence Committee. If taken at face value, the report seems to solidify the administration's case that Iraq and al Qaeda have had significant ties going back to the early 1990s.  The Defense Department has released a statement distancing themselves from the leaked report, saying the report included raw intelligence and did not include analysis. The great Spinsanity.org has weighed in on this report, pointing out that many of the intelligence claims stated are tenuous.

Digital tuners mandated in new TVs by 2007

Wanna new TV? The FCC's ruling that most new TVs must have digital tuners by 2007 was upheld by a judge. This will supposedly help spur broadcasters to offer more over-the-air digital content because TV owners will have the capability to see it. It is the classic chicken-and-egg scenario. Digital TV (DTV) does not necessarily mean High Definition TV (HDTV), but you need a DTV in order to see the full resolution of HDTV. So even if your TV includes a DTV tuner, you may need a separate HDTV tuner to get the cool, widescreen, high-resolution content.  Click the picture to learn about the advantages of widescreen movies for home theaters.


2003 George Bush Award for Excellence in Public Service to...Ted Kennedy?!?

On November 7, George Herbert Walker Bush (the elder) will present his 2003 Award for Excellence in Public Service to none other than long-time Massachusetts Democratic Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy. What gives? Some feel that awarding the sitting President's most virulent critic a prestigious and personal award is a signal that Junior’s foreign policy could use some tweaking. Prior to the Iraq war, Poppy warned that going into Iraq without international backing would lead to major problems. The speeches at the November 7th ceremony will certainly be interesting.

ALLETE to spin off Adesa to shareholders
ALLETE (NYSE: ALE), the parent of the company I work for (Enventis Telecom), is spinning off its auto-auctioning business. Good for me and probably good for Enventis as well.


Bush's disregard for intelligence

Seymour Hersh writes in The New Yorker about stovepiping -- the Bush administration's direct sourcing of intelligence information in order to get what they want to justify their policies. Hersh also answers some questions about the article.


Pixar's next: The Incredibles!

Holy crap I love Pixar. Their next masterpiece is called "The Incredibles" and is scheduled for release in November 2004. Check out this preview that was shown during a recent broadcast of Toy Story. It's shows many of the voice actors and more footage than the teaser trailer.