Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Interplanetary Broadband?

The ability to transmit information via light would be a tremendous boon for the space program. Currently, interplanetary transmission rates are roughly equivalent to that acheived by your old 1200 baud modem (if you had a modem about 20 years ago, that is). This report from MIT's Technology Review suggests that the laser-based broadband nut may have been cracked.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Kerry Follies

Alexandra at All Things Beautiful has an interesting post on Kerry's filibuster follies. She also discusses his recent transformation from Boston Brahman into Daily Kossack.

Fear of Girls


Slashdot linked to this peculiar short film at Google Video -- Fear of Girls -- which features a couple of 30-ish Dungeons & Dragons afficiandos. It may not be to everyone's taste, but I found it hilarious.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Just Plain Brilliant

If you can't kill 'em, well, then, mock the hell out of 'em. It's in the Koran!

Friday, January 27, 2006

The Surly Bonds

Challenger was lost twenty years ago yesterday. In some respects it does seem that long. In others, it doesn't seem possible. MSNBC has an interesting piece on what happened that morning.

Oops: Actually, the anniversary is today, the 28th.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

That’s Not Right! …or is it?

I had been hoping to develop a more thought-out post for my first at the Chateau, but something surprised me while watching cable news last night – one of those moments when I ask myself "Is this really what I think"?

Although I try to keep up on current events as time allows, I hadn’t been closely following the details of this week’s Palestinian legislative elections. Hamas pre-election rally in the West Bank town of Tulkarem Monday, Jan. 23, 2006.(AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh) After over a decade of relative dominance on the local political scene under career terrorist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Yasser Arafat, the Fatah party’s leadership has come under fire lately in the wake of corruption scandals and charges of cronyism (issues perhaps not unfamiliar to Western readers). As a result, the Fatah party, now “led” by one of its founders and current PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, is expected by most observers to cede at least some of its power to the more radical Islamist Hamas party. This is despite the involvement of some Fatah candidates who are very popular, including one who is known to his supporters as “Hitler” – I kid you not. “Hitler”, born Jamal Abu Roub, is among the leaders of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a group that although associated with Fatah has ignored calls from Abbas to suspend violence.

Fatah currently controls 68 of the 88 seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council, which will grow to 132 seats after the election – exactly how many seats will be in the Hamas column remains a matter of debate. In Nablus, a city of over a quarter million that has long been considered a Fatah stronghold, a recent local election resulted in Hamas winning 13 of 15 council seats. PA Information Minister Nabil Shaath however is confident that Fatah will win enough of the 132 seats to form a government on its own, and suggests that Fatah would then offer to share power only with parties that recognize Israel and accept the “road map to peace”, implicitly ruling out a deal with Hamas. "After the election, I think we will establish a government in coalition with the leftist and the independent lists," he said. "With these people, we can agree on a joint program that includes negotiations with Israel, the implementation of the road map and a cease-fire. With Hamas, it will be very difficult to reach a joint program. We can't form a coalition with Hamas if it doesn't agree to this program."

With numerous episodes of election-related violence, gunmen from both parties (as well as others such as Islamic Jihad that are boycotting the vote) are ensuring that the outcome will be difficult to predict. The likeliest scenario is that Fatah may cling to a slim majority, but there is little doubt that Hamas is on the rise, and an outright Hamas victory remains a possibility.

Both parties have been spending money on campaigns to improve their image – in fact, American tax dollars are being applied to support the party of Arafat. If domestic politics make for strange bedfellows, international affairs can be an orgy of opportunistic relationships, so my money going to Fatah was not that much of a shocker. What made me pause was realizing that after years of sneering at Arafat (like many, I literally cheered upon seeing news of his demise), I somehow find myself actually rooting for Fatah, and reluctantly am OK with how my money is being spent in this regard. In a classic race to the bottom between two evils, Hamas is in my view the “winner” – that is, the less acceptable of the two. Fatah’s record is nothing to be proud of, but raising the blood-soaked green flag of Hamas will benefit no one in the end – not those whom the party claims to represent, not the Israelis who are closely following the elections, and certainly not anyone interested in moving the Mideast peace process forward.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Oh Canada

My family has a place on Charleston Lake in Ontario. My grandfather built it with his own hands (3 bedrooms, etc.) and I vacationed there every summer during my youth. I'm hoping I can take my kids to Canada this summer and not feel like I'm in friggin' Europe. C'mon Canada, you can do it.

Let's check the scoring: John Howard, Tony Blair and George Bush still there. Gerhard replaced by Angie Merkel and Paul Martin about to be run over by Stephen Harper. The world may have a chance. If it keeps up, the next thing you know, M. Chirac will be threatening to nuke Iran . . .

The Captain will be live-blogging the returns beginning at 6:00 Central. Do forgive him any triumphalism. After all, but for Ed and his diligence during the Gomery scandal, this might not be happening.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Victory!

This afternoon, our Lebanon County jury returned a $1.15 million verdict in favor of my clients, a damages award that included every single dollar we had asked for in connection with a breach of contract.

Good day. Indeed.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Canada

Could it be? Is Canada finally coming to its collective senses? The Captain seems to think so. And, on matters Canadian, Ed has a solid track record. Indeed, he deserves substantial credit for toppling the noisome Martin government.

More Dead Terrorists?

The rumor's all over the web. The good old U.S. military may have cashed Zawahiri. As I've said before, even if it is a false alarm, the idea of Ayman spread thinly over a substantial surface area is a pleasing one indeed. The fact, she would be better still . . .

More: A lizardoid aptly puts it: "Predator drOwned." It's probably been said elsewhere but I haven't seen it before. Here's hoping it makes it into the lexicon. A more hopeful word-of-the-year (okay, term-of-the-year) than diavlog, if you ask me.

Fark headlines: "# 3 Al-Qaeda guy possibly promoted". Hmm. Didn't we kill him a few weeks back . . .

Big roundup of first-blush reactions at the Jawa Report. Looks like folks are lacing up in hopes there's gonna be a grave dance. Our version of a car swarm, I guess.

Week 1

The first week of trial is under our belts and, save the cross-exam of our damages witness and a short appearance from the accountant, our case is in. I don't think we made any mistakes and I know we have all the evidence we need to make our argument to the jury. The case involves a dispute over a contract and the damages amount in slightly north of $1 million. I like our chances, but, as litigators well know, juries can be very fickle. With any luck, we'll have a verdict by next Friday. At that point, I'll take some time off to celebrate the holidays, which I missed out on this year, and, well, just sleep for a bit. Hope all is well out in the blogosphere -- I've hardly even had time to check in with Lileks this week. Now that's busy.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Suspicion

Everybody has it about someone or something. Right now, mine is that this will be downright awful. Shockingly so. But what do I know? I love science fiction that is based on real (even if not yet realized) physics and I love the Grateful Dead. I've never, though, thought of two as particularly complimentary, a fine Space notwithstanding. I do like this line from the report:
"I believe the Grateful Dead would have inspired much less of an emotional loyalty in their fans without [Hunter's] lyrics," says Steve Silberman.
Really? Ya think? So it's come to this, has it? All that's left to talk about is the blindingly obvious . . .

(h/t Jon S.)

More: Phil's heading back on the road in February, with stops in New York, Providence and Philthadelphia. Some strange guesswork from the story:
Last year marked the 40th anniversary of the formation of the Grateful Dead, which had fans speculating that the legendary band--re-dubbed simply The Dead in the wake of the 1995 death of frontman Jerry Garcia--would mark the milestone by regrouping for a tour, but Lesh's busy touring schedule with his own band likely prevented this from happening, if in fact it was ever under serious consideration.
Serious consideration? I doubt it. They came real close to being a band again in 02 and 03, and it fizzled out. Fizzled, I think, because they were so damned determined to be something different from what they are. I'll continue to hold out hope that, someday, the Dead will be content to just be the Dead again for a little while. They'd probably be quite good at it. Sadly, time is running out.

Trial

Quiet 'round these parts, lately. I'm taking a case to trial Monday that should last two-three weeks. Yes, thank you, the Holidays did fairly suck. Oh well. We all have to make a living somehow. Life could be worse. Much worse. I could be a journalist . . .

Of Leaks and Blows

There is an interesting issue lurking at the intersections of the Plame affair, the CIA flights and prisons leak, and the NSA wiretapping leak. The issue is: what is a leak? The New York Times argues that only Plame involved a leak. The other two stories, according to the Times, involve brave whistle-blowers. Tom Maguire ably destroys this mendacity.