Friday, February 3, 2006

"Hard to Help"

Quote of the day, from Congressman John Murtha, who is emerging as a sterling, plain-speaking symbol of the progressive national awakening (it's from his interview on MSNBC, video and text here):

So what we‘re into is nation building. You cannot nation build inside an insurgency. So we‘re not only not winning, we‘re spreading hatred towards the United States. Eighty percent of the people in Iraq want us out of there. Forty-seven percent of the people in Iraq say it‘s justified to kill Americans. Eighty percent of the people in the periphery of Iraq say that we‘ll be better off. Once we get out of there, it will be more stable in Iraq. And that‘s what all of us—we want to help this president, but he‘s hard to help.

Looking for a practical demonstration of what Rep. Murtha is talking about? Just look at the economics of it, and keep in mind that you (if you're reasonably young) or your children will be paying—paying grievously—for all this.

$ $440 billion for war and the military in 2007, to top the $400B spent for FY 2006. The grim news is here.
$ Note that costs for the War in Iraq are separate—that is, additional. Estimates run at around $120 billion for 2006.
$ Another $20 billion for Katrina reconstruction costs. I don't think anyone would begrudge the Bushies this expense (even considering that their ignorance and sloth caused most of the needless destruction). That is, as long as it wasn't funnelled into FEMA, which it is.
$ Who's paying for this? You and me, buddy—not Mr. Park Avenue and his 8 figure bank account. Who else is paying for it? Medicare recipients, folks on welfare, and kids hoping to get student loans for college. In short, the sick, the elderly, the poor, and the young. Don't worry, kids—there's burgers to be flipped out there in the big world.

Which brings us to our number 2 quote of the day, from Paul Krugman(from Times Select, which will require a trial subscription):

But what did you expect? After five years in power, the Bush administration is still — perhaps more than ever — run by Mayberry Machiavellis, who don't take the business of governing seriously.


Geek Corner

I downloaded Internet Explorer 7 (public beta, available here) onto my Wintel box, and had a look around.

The good news is that it seems to work, and that it includes features that Firefox and Opera have had for months, if not years: tabbed browsing, customizable toolbars, full-featured search boxes, a phishing filter, more intuitive controls, and some added versatility to display and print functions.

The bad news is that it is electronic plagiarism, and like most plagiarism, is clumsily done. Just check out the picture below (click on it for an enlarged view): the Firefox toolbar is above, and the new IE 7 screen is below. Note the neat nesting and organization of the FF bars, the clean layout, and full-featured Google toolbar. Then note the cluttered placement of screen and toolbar items in the IE window. At least it did capture Google as my default engine, rather than saddling me with MSN Search. At this point, those menus and toolbars can't be moved around, though one would expect MS to make that an active feature in the final product, which is supposed to be released by autumn.

I hit a few secure sites and lots of others, and I have to say that for a beta it's running quite reliably. Microsoft has just got to get some designers that can think and create for themselves, rather than lamely stealing from the likes of Firefox and Opera. For my money, Opera remains the best and most versatile browser for the Windows realm, while Safari's amazing speed and recent functional improvements keep it barely ahead of Firefox and Opera for the Mac. For Linux fans, it seems Firefox is King, and no matter your platform, FF is a great choice for its extensions, themes, security, and overall usability. The designers of IE 7 still have a long, long way to go before they can stand side-by-side with the Mozilla geeks and stop the market share drain.

One final prediction, on that game they're playing in Detroit this weekend. The media will fawn and drool, the players will be thrown out of their natural rhythms by the maddening abundance of commercial time, and the game will generally suck. Look for plenty of turnovers and a Seattle victory in a fairly sloppy contest.

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