December 5th, 2007


[links] Link salad, from the country of the corn

Language Loss — An interesting and moving article about language extension. (Thanks to lordofallfools.)

Extra-marital toes and free range mayonnaise — A discussion of hypallage, for you language geeks.

Paleofuture with a 1960 feature on Universal Language Boxes — The illustration alone is worth a click through. But why would an article written in 1960 mention an Ottoman Turk?

Mystery over return of 'dead' man grows — Soap opera plots come to life!

frankwu pimps holiday giving, beautifully — The special edition of Greetings From Lake Wu.

An analysis of the Yankees' deal for Rodriguez — My normal interest in sports is on a par with my normal interest in lutefisk, but this is interesting economics.

Make a remote controlled camera from a cellphone! — High tech aspiring to be low tech.

Knot formation in cabling — One of life's sweet mysteries is addressed. Next up: the secret solo sock trap built into American dryers.

Stonehenge by hand... — A cool video of one man's attempt to recreate Neolithic construction techniques. Snurched from my f-list.

Juan Cole on the new Iran NIE — You knew I couldn't pass on some reference to this.

Huckabee on the Iran NIE — I don't find this alarming or anything, though it does seem a bit odd. The first comment is priceless.
We need a consistent conservative like this as president! Intelligence reports are jsut a product of the liberal media anyway. Huck is the one principled candidate who believes what he believes, regardless of what the liberals skew the facts to say!
Darn those skewed facts. It's not like they reflect reality or anything. Oh look, liberal bias!

[politics] A bit more on the Iran NIE

If you scan around the blogosphere, conservatives (and especially neo-cons) are busy denouncing the Iran NIE as a liberal smear job against the president. This reminds me of my previous comments on the whole question of WMDs in Iraq.

Some of you may recall that WMDs were the notional reason we invaded that country, lest the proverbial smoking gun be a mushroom cloud. The 2002 Iraq NIE had been badly skewed by Cheney's "B team", suppressing dissenting voices to get the assessment they wanted. (This is a matter of record at this point, not liberal whingeing on my part.) Intelligence is never certain, and balance of opinion from different sources and analysts is part of how it gets evaluated. That process was consciously discarded in the Administration's continuing pursuit of its own reality.

Unsurprisingly to those of us foolish enough to remain in the reality-based community, no WMDs were found in Iraq. (Though the majority of people who get their news primarily from Fox say differently in polls -- fair and balanced!) The UNSCOM teams had been clear about it, the UN had been clear about, a significant number of voices in our own intelligence community had been clear about it. Bush had Cheney's team, the Curveball source, and their principled conservatism to tell them otherwise.

The thing is, with a few exceptions (specifically Rove and Cheney), I never did think the White House thought it was lying. They really did believe those WMDs were there. They knew they were skewing the intel and misrepresenting what evidence was available (remember the aluminum tubes?), but that was the political equivalent of kiting a check, as I've said before. As soon as the WMDs were located, or even strong evidence of their existence, no one was ever going to care whether the pre-war intel had been stretched.

Except that kited political check never got covered by a deposit. The White House didn't make its own reality, it got dragged down by inconvenient facts. Rumsfeld's six week war is still going on years later, no one ever danced in the streets, and there are no major squares in Baghdad named after President Bush.

Now we're looking at Iran, and the same voices that were shrilling about Saddam's WMDs are shrilling about Iran's WMDs. Us sane people and our silly attention to, you know, facts, might actually prevail this time, but it will be no thanks to conservative America if we stay out of yet another pointless, endless war. I guess that makes me a liberal traitor. I can live with that, if it means fewer American soldiers dying in Iran, and fewer Iranian kids dying because they're there.

It is possible to learn something from Iraq, if you let the liberal bias of the facts sway you. Maybe we should start with believing our own lying eyes on the NIE.