A new way to post to blogs

This post is actually a test of a new (to me, that is) online service called WriteToMyBlog.com. It claims to be able to post to two or more blogs simultaneously, as well as do the regular things you have to to do post blogs.Two paragraphs into the test and I am not impressed. You have to create your own HTML, it seems. I would rather use my own tools to do that.I will give it a workout, but thus far, I’m unlikely to be spending too much time on this. It undoubtedly has tools I haven’t seen yet, but that is just another brick in its wall, because surely things like that should be obvious?


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Good on you, mates

Given a choice of three “American allies,” readers of the popular libertarian blog Instapundit.com named Australia as their best ally. In fact, they voted for Australia by about a 2-to-1 margin over both the other choices, Britain and Israel.


This is an excellent achievement by an excellent and loyal nation. Australia is indeed a top American ally, and that is not to put down any other countries. And there are other good friends of the US as well, Thailand most certainly included. But today, for a number of reasons, Australia gets the vote, and deserves it.

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How to kill a newspaper

The Philadelphia Inquirer picked up the hara-kiri knife last week, one of the sadder events in a whole series that is killing newspapers around the world.

In a memo to all staff, managing editor Mike Leary vows there will be none of that new-fangled, online Internet stuff. Not in his newspaper.

Beginning today, we are adopting an Inquirer first policy for our signature investigative reporting, enterprise, trend stories, news features, and reviews of all sorts. What that means is that we won’t post those stories online until they’re in print.

… we’ll make the decision to press the button on the online packages only when readers are able to pick up The Inquirer on their doorstep or on the newsstand.

A bit of local irony here. Thai newspapers including the Bangkok Post had this as their policy when the Internet started. The newspaper proprietors were so short-sighted they actually thought people would subscribe to the newspaper to be sure to be the first to get the news.

The former Philadelphia Inquirer

Bulletin! Scoop! This just in! Readers already get today’s news today from a whole variety of places: TV, radio, Internet news sites, SMS texting, office gossip…. No one interested in hard, breaking news gets it from the newspaper. They read more about such stories in tomorrow’s newspaper.

Now, the formerly excellent Philadelphia Inquirer is going to regress to the past, when dramas were on radio, kids danced the Twist and cars had fins. This Mike Leary person has proved the Peter Principle, risen above his ability, and now has picked up the kitchen shears to stab his newspaper to death.

He is going to kill the newspaper and the popular Philly.com website. There is no other possibility. He thinks readers will re-subscribe to his newspaper to be the first to get yesterday’s news. To do that, he will withhold news from the website until after tomorrow.

Yeah. That makes sense.

There has not been a worse decision in newspapering in this century. Flat statement.

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A spectacular beginning

There’s very little to say after watching the opening of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. In fact, the only relevant thing I can think to write is that it was the most impressive and well-regulated opening ceremony since the 1936 Games.


3:48 pm: The Fuhrer and the Reich Minister of the Interior arrived and inspected the Honour Battalion before the Bell Tower.

4:15 pm: At the command ‘Participants March!’, the nations entered the Stadium, the spacing between the different nations being regulated at the mouth of the tunnel.

A distance of 5 yards was maintained between the placard carrier and the flag bearer. The distance between the last row of a national group and the placard carrier of the following group was 20 yards. …

Some nations were cheered mildly, others enthusiastically, according to the popularity or unpopularity of a nation earned in previous Olympics. Austria, perhaps, received the greatest ovation and clappings. India, though insignificant in terms of the number of the participants, was conspicuous by her colourful headgear and was greeted by quite a multitude of the huge crowd.

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The will is vital

A New York Times story says the Iraqi Army Is Willing, but Not Ready, to Fight:

… asked whether that army is ready as a national defense force, capable of protecting Iraq’s borders without American support, Lieutenant Mahmoud gestures toward his battalion’s parking lot. A fifth of the vehicles are rotting trucks and bomb-demolished Humvees that, for some complicated bureaucratic reason, are still considered operational.

“In your opinion,” Lieutenant Mahmoud says, “do you think I could fight an army with those trucks?”

Well, good. An army travels on its stomach, but in vehicles.

But I’m struck by the difference between Iraq 2008 and Vietnam 1970. The policies are roughly the same — US forces providing a decreasing amount of security as local troops and police take over. But the results are proving so very different, because the Iraqis do, indeed have the vital will to succeed.

The so-called Vietnamisation policy of President Richard Nixon was going fully into effect in 1970. US troops were on their way out by the division. (All US combat forces were gone by 1971, four years before the war ended with the 55-day communist offensive that took Saigon.) South Vietnamese troops were being touted as both ready (true) and willing (untrue) to keep back both the guerrillas and regular forces of the communist enemy.

There is still a lot of argument over whether Nixon and chief adviser Henry Kissinger actually believed the hype that Vietnamese forces were both ready and willing to replace the Americans who simply had to go home or see the country enveloped in a truly harmful conflict with the anti-war armies of the left in America.

History shows, whatever the belief at the time, that the Vietnamese were unwilling to fight. They had loads of trucks, tanks, helicopters and warplanes. They only lacked one thing.Frantic Vietnamese try to flee An Loc battlefield, 1972

When the communists launched their second-last major attacks, the Easter Offensive of 1972, the South Vietnamese armed forces did not just retreat; they ran. The entire division of men at the vital North-South Vietnam Demilitarised Zone border threw down their arms and hot-tailed it south, leaving the few willing units in the region exposed. The upper province of Quang Tri was overwhelmed.

At An Loc (photo) frantic, undisciplined troops were photographed even trying to hang on to helicopter skids, anything to flee the combat. And An Loc was 60 miles north of Saigon, a key defence post for the capital.

Here is a terrific sign (and from a news agency that has for years called for US defeat in the war) that Iraq is getting it together and is, indeed willing to fight for its future.

The McClatchy Group reports from Baghdad that the longing by defeatists for civil war did not, and likely will not come true. Iraqis not only get along, but are united. In a story from Baghdad, McClatchy correspondent Nancy A. Youssef reports:

For years, when she approached Iraqi Army checkpoints and produced an identification card for soldiers to study for clues about her sect, Nadia Hashim used a simple formula to signal the mostly Shiite Muslim force that she, too, is a Shiite.

“I am one of you,” she’d say.

The soldiers would harass Sunnis, but they’d simply wave Hashim through.

Now her pat line gets her an official reproach.

When a relative used it recently, a soldier admonished the driver and the passengers. “’We are Iraqis, and you shouldn’t say such a thing,’” recalled Hashim.

It is a thing of beauty, frankly, that Iraq and its security forces are willing to stand up for their country. It’s encouraging that the most anti-American sections of the US mainstream media are willing, even eager to report it.

As someone who watched and reported, then experienced the effects of the unwilling South Vietnamese to defend their country, I am optimistic that the desire to do the job is even more important than having the best and most modern means to do it. Good luck to Iraq.

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Headline du jour

From the Free Press of Mankato, Minnesota:


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The (formerly) most dangerous woman in the world

The FBI has announced the arrest of Aafia Siddiqui, one of the most educated and one of the most dangerous of all al-Qaeda terrorists. From FBI web site today She has been on the run for some years, apparently living as a sleeper for the terrorist gang, in the United States and abroad.

Siddiqui was arrested in Afghanistan — an understatement right up there with the captain of the Titanic announcing his ship would be taking on some ice.

She is in the United States and going to be in court in New York on Tuesday (August 5). But her arrest in Afghanistan was anything but routine:

The Warrant Officer took a seat and placed his United States Army M-4 rifle on the floor next to the curtain. Shortly after the meeting began, the Captain heard a woman yell from the curtain and, when he turned, saw Siddiqui holding the Warrant Officer’s rifle and pointing it directly at the Captain. Siddiqui said, “May the blood of [unintelligible] be directly on your [unintelligible, possibly head or hands].” The interpreter seated closest to Siddiqui lunged at her and pushed the rifle away as Siddiqui pulled the trigger. Siddiqui fired at least two shots but no one was hit. The Warrant Officer returned fire with a 9 mm service pistol and fired approximately two rounds at Siddiqui’s torso, hitting her at least once.

Despite being shot, Siddiqui struggled with the officers when they tried to subdue her; she struck and kicked them while shouting in English that she wanted to kill Americans. After being subdued, Siddiqui temporarily lost consciousness.

This would be movie material even if it were fiction.

Four and a half years ago, the FBI put out a special arrest bulletin on Siddiqui, as well as her estranged husband, Dr Mohammed Khan, 33. It was the first time an FBI bulletin sought a woman in the war against terror. So far as officials were concerned, she was lost, completely off the radar.

They thought Siddiqui, who has a doctorate in neurological science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, might be in Pakistan. She lived in Boston while attending MIT, and travelled after 9/11 to the Maryland suburbs of Washington.

Officially, she was only wanted for questioning before she was detained, then shot, then arrested in Afghanistan. Now, she is looking at 20 years in a solitary cell in a maximum security (Supermax) prison for trying to kill the Americans.

This is good.

More to the point, Aafia Siddiqui, with her MIT doctorate and her excellent up-bringing and her opportunity to do just about literally anything she set her mind to gives the lie to the ridiculous theory that there are some set of “root causes” of terrorism we should all spend years looking for and studying.

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