Archive for May, 2006

It’s not really funny, but somehow it is.
Two Elderly Women Jailed In Deadly Insurance Scam

Two elderly women devised a complex plot in which they befriended
homeless men, took out life insurance policies on them, and then killed
the men in hit-and-run accidents in alleys around Los Angeles to
collect $2.2 million in payments, police said Monday.

shamelessly ripped from Protein Wisdom

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A couple of popular conservative blogs have concluded that Google is systematically and purposefully excluding sites from their general search results based on the poilitical decisions. The Google News aggregator has always been biased and capricious, but unfiltered search results
have to be fair or they’re useless. So if it’s true then Google’s really, really stupid.

But I’m not convinced just yet. Google’s gotten some unfair political criticism lately and I suspect this may be more of the same. Sites have mysteriously vanished from Google before without any politics being involved. Check out any of the SEO forums out there for examples. I really doubt Google’s management would sanction a political purge of right-wing blogs. They may be lefties but they’re also businessmen, and well aware of how the search engine business works.

However, I wouldn’t put a stunt like this past some of their employees. Sadly, many of my fellow geeks suffer from Slashdot Socialism, which makes them notoriously soft-skulled when it comes to politics. Take a look at the popular links of the day pulled together on popurls or Technorati. Under the cool new Ajax techniques, pr0n, and gadget announcements the daily list of hot topics is practially a Daily Kos recommended reading list. A misguided and not-very-bright programmer or two could quietly do a lot of damage.

Anyway, if this turns out to be true, will it sink Google? Probably not anytime soon. Yahoo is, well, boring. Gigablast is Dean’s current favorite, and it does seem pretty nice. Windows Live is promising, and they’ve gotten Amazon’s A9 to switch. But they’re still a sucker for spam sites. They’re those stupid autogenerated pages that all have the same description "Learn more about [query]! Everything to know about [query] is here!" You’d think that removing obvious junk like that would be the first job of any search engine, but somehow only Google seems to manage it.

And the reason why (as pointed out to me by my lovely and intelligent wife) may be the same reason that Google’s getting these new blog-related complaints. They’re very aggressive at detecting and delinking many types of suspected junk sites. People make a living reverse-engineering and defeating Google’s anti-spam techniques. Without warning. Google makes a change to their algorithms, re-indexes, and the results suddenly change without any explanation. No system is perfect, though, and sometimes good, honest sites get caught up in the crossfile. And after that happens it takes forever to reach a real person and convince them to fix it. Bad customer service, yes. Conspiracy, no. I think that’s probably what’s happening here.

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Network Neutrality

The WSJ has brief debate on the topic of net neutrality. I think Craig Newmark comes out on top, but that may be because I already lean toward the Save the Internet view on this subject.

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The Anchoress says, in her usual calm and eloquent way, exactly what I’ve been thinking:

That made me wonder a little – has President Bush lost his bearings, or have we? Is it President Bush who has broken faith with “his base” or have they?

When I read my friend’s line, I thought of a line from Pride and Prejudice, in which Elizabeth Bennett says in new appreciation of Mr. Darcy, “In essentials, I believe, he is very much what he ever was.”

Perhaps I am a dim bulb, but President Bush has never surprised me, and that is probably why I have never felt let down or “betrayed” by him. He is, in essentials, precisely whom he has ever been.

You really should read the whole thing, especially if you’re a former Bush supporter who’s now disappointed and angry and bitter. Read it, and remember what we’ve all come through together.

Bush is a man who lives and dies by principle. Sometimes I agree with him, sometimes I don’t. But he’s never been anything less than frank and open about his beliefs, his plans, and his policies. An honest politician. That’s exactly what everyone keeps saying they want. For all too many conservatives that apparently means they want a politician who’s follows his conscience…except when they stomp their feet and demand otherwise. At that point Bush is supposed to immediately abandon his principles and his forget his faith and tow the line. Or else. This obnoxious and short-sighted breed of conservative don’t really want a man of principle who stands by what he believes, instead they want the very same kind of mindless puppet that the Left always accuses Bush of being.

Sorry, guys. That’s not why I voted twice for Bush. I may disagree with him on one or two issues, but I don’t want a slave to the whims of a self-absorbed and inflexible "base" obsessed with controlling every single decision he makes. And neither does the rest of the country, or we’d have a President Gore or Kerry. I never expected that when faced with honest disagreement the Right could become as rigid and spiteful as the Left, at least not so quickly. Unfortunately I was wrong.

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 TheWBALChannel.com – News – Couple Arrested For Asking For Directions:

Baltimore City police arrested a Virginia couple over the weekend after they asked an officer for directions.

Believe it or not, they were arrested for trespassing while on a public street, which I’m pretty sure isn’t even possible. I’d like to hear the officer’s side of the story, and that of the second officer on the scene. It’s possible the couple is lying, but, since they were released without being charged for any crime it doesn’t seem likely that they did anything serious enough to get thrown in jail.

If the facts are as reported it sounds like a classic case of a grumpy cop taking out her frustrations on innocent people. Not the sort of goodwill ambassadors that Charm City needs right now.

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John Murtha may look like everybody’s kindly uncle, but he’s proven again that he’s a despicable man:

Confederate Yankee: Dishonorable John.

Congressman John Murtha has now gone so far as to accuse American Marines of cold-blooded murder before an investigation has been completed, and roughly doubled the number of dead without any support for his charges, with the sole apparent goal of inflaming outrage at the expense of our military’s safety.

It would seem appropriate that the United States House of Representatives should at the very least censure Congressman Murtha, who has gone so far out of his way to initiate such inflammatory and potentially dangerous rhetoric. He has dishonored his seat, the military criminal justice system, the Marine Corps and the United States of America.

Agreed. Not only does Murtha very likely have no idea what he’s talking about, he’s destroying the reputations of these men and given Iraqi terrorists an excuse to go on another killing rampage. And now, thanks to him, no matter how the facts actually decide the case, some people will always insist that there was a coverup. I suppose an imaginary Vietnam must have an imaginary Mai Lai. And, hey, they’re all shellshocked babykillers anyway, right?

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An excellent exersize in alternate history editorals from Victor David Hanson.

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I didn’t see it last night, but I did watch President Bush’s speech on illegal immigration this morning. I think he did a good job. Do I agree with everything he outlined? No, not everything. But if the policies he outlined are implemented by Congress and can penetrate the immigration agency bueracracy then I’m willing to give them a try. I don’t think militarizing our border with Mexico is a good idea, for a lot of reasons. I don’t think alienating or weakening the friendly government of Mexico is wise when evil Communist thugs like Hugo Chavez are trying to gain a foothold there. And I suspect that there’s far more going on to address the issues of terrorists sneaking across the southern border than either President Bush or President Fox are able to tell us about on TV right now. 

Unfortunately some conservatives are less willing to compromise, and now they’re pitching a classic hissy-fit. Bush isn’t doing what they want him to do, goddammit, so they’ll scream and shout and threaten to take their vote and go home. And if you dare disagree with them then you’re not a Real Conservative. Of course that sort of behavior won’t actually solve anything, but apparently solving
problems is not as important as demonstrating their own righteous

The left has become famous for this sort of
narrow minded, self-destructive and childish behavior. It’s very frustrating to see people I
respect on the right doing the exact same thing. No matter how correct you think you are, when you start to sound like the rabid idiots over on the Daily Kos you know it’s time for a some deep breathing exersizes and a sanity check.

John Podhoretz has an excellent response to these people and how they’re hurting, not helping the conservative cause. And, as always, The Anchoress is the still, quiet voice of reason. I hope the people who need to hear their message aren’t too far gone to listen.

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I’ve written and discarded a few paragraphs about the NSA surveillance program. I just wasn’t happy with how it came out. But Dean’s latest on the subject is exactly what I was trying for. He’s absolutely, 100% right. Go read it now.

I may have more to say later.

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There’s a reliable rumor that the original un-messed-with Star Wars trilogy is finally coming to DVD:

Our very best industry sources have been checking in over the last couple of days – independently, I might add – with word that Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox are finally going to be releasing the original theatrical versions of the Star Wars films on DVD… good old regular DVD… sometime in the second half of this year.

This is great news. The re-releases had their moments, and it was nice to see them on the big screen again after so many years. But I was very disappointed to hear that the original versions were never going to be made available.

via Digg

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