Wednesday, December 6, 2006

The Courage of Retreat (and Geek Wednesday)

Before we get to Geek Wednesday, a few notes on the war and the maniacs running it from the safe distance of half a world away (I recall the Roger Waters song, "The Bravery of Being Out of Range").

First, click the graphic to watch Stewart and Oliver in another gut-busting moment of insight. Stewart reveals Rumsfeld in the same corporate-speak that we were discussing yesterday; and Oliver beautifully tilts the rhetoric onto its tail, thereby exposing the depravity of the delusion that has fueled this insanity.

Next, Code Pink delivers this firm and clear message on the vapid reality of the Iraq Study Group (click the link to add your voice to theirs):

In the 1968 presidential campaign Richard Nixon promised to end the war in Vietnam, but would not tell anyone exactly he would do it. In as many words this came to be known as his "secret plan." Yet, after his election the war still dragged on for another five years with 20,000 more American deaths and 100,000 wounded.

Now along comes the Iraq Study Group supposedly with a plan for extricating ourselves from the strategic disaster in Iraq, if not the moral one. And let us be not deceived, their proposals will make no meaningful difference whatsoever in really bringing the troops home. John Murtha, who so far has only spoken out for redeployment (something short of immediate withdrawal), has said he believes they represent no actual change of policy. They are just kicking the can of casualties down the road and trying to fool us into thinking they might in fact leave.

Every military historian and tactician worth his salt knows that retreat takes more courage than does attack. Think of those moments in your own life where you had to step back rather than move aggressively forward: didn't it test every ounce of energy and resolve that you had? The ancient Chinese knew this very well—just read Sun Tzu, or the 33rd Hexagram of the I Ching:

RETREAT. Success. In what is small, perseverance furthers.

Conditions are such that the hostile forces favored by the time are advancing. In this case retreat is the right course, and it is not to be confused with flight. Flight means saving oneself under any circumstances, whereas retreat is a sign of strength.


Geek Wednesday

Before we get to the goofy, meaningless stuff, our thoughts go out to the family of C-Net editor James Kim, and our hopes that he is found alive and safe. I have had abundant praise for the geek press in general, and the quality of C-Net's and Kim's work is what distinguishes the geek media and places it so far above the network MSM for the quality of its journalism and its unflinching adherence to the search for truth (if you'd like an example, just read their story on Bush's privacy oversight commission). Let's all hope that Mr. Kim is returned safe and sound to his family.

Can anyone tell me what exactly is wrong with Google these days? Have Page and Brin been spending time at Redmond, or is this what happens when your stock price goes over $500 per share? Whatever, Blogger Beta is a piece of Microsoft-style ordure: I've been struggling with failed uploads, vapid error messages, image corruption, and generally batty, turgid behavior on Blogger's part since I moved to the new beta version. We are currently working on a migration to Movable Type, which isn't as easy as you might think. We've got our own Nearly Redmond Nick on the case, so I am confident of a good result.

But I had kind of gotten used to Google beta that worked as well or better than Microsoft production releases, so I'm a little confused at the performance of Blogger these days. If you've had any wacky experiences with Blogger Beta, post them in the comments, and maybe the boys from Stanford will take note and shake a leg.

Ars Technica has a roundup of system upgrades and purchase possibilities, just in time for the holiday (oops, sorry BillO—I mean, Xmas) shopping season.
But it all may have been changed by the release of AMD's new 65nm chip. Keep an eye out in the next few weeks for PCs sporting this new processor. And as always, the thing to do in buying expensive tech gear is to wait until after the New Year for the best deals on the greatest gadgets.

Why does Apple shrink from surveys that show its products appeal to us older folks? Could it be that we live in a culture so obsessed with youth and its imitation that to be merely statistically associated with the over-50 set is an abomination? Get real, Steve: the baby-boomers constitute the prime market of the decade, and the one to come. Of course us oldsters favor Apple hardware and Mac OS X: we've lived long enough to tell the soil from the shit.

And let's not leave out our buddy Gates (no, not the one the Senate confirmed today for the post-Rummy Defense job): Vista is out and no one cares. One of the last things I did at my AIG desktop before I got booted out of there was to run the Vista upgrade advisor on a Dell 2.4 GHz P4 with 1GB of RAM and onboard Intel video, and I found out that Vista wouldn't play nicely. For one thing, I didn't have enough disk space on the box: Vista needs 15GB (compare that to 3 GB for Mac OS X Tiger), and Vista demands a video card with 128MB of VRAM and a dedicated sound card.

But surely the upgrade to Office 2007 is worth a play?—not according to geeks who know better.

Finally, I'm back in the saddle reviewing sites for the next Webby Awards. I'll be offering some impressions of this year's batch of sites in the coming weeks. The early returns are telling me that some things just don't change: Flash media continues to be overused, abused, and played into the ground on the web. Maybe they should have a category for "worst web design". There would be lots of candidates: PC World found 25 of them. I'll be picking some out of my Webby pile, and you're welcome to add your suggestions to the comments.

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