Thursday, 20 January 2005

I like this guy

Ali, formerly of Iraq The Model, has written one of the best explanations for the Iraqi invasion, and its relationship to the war on terror, that I’ve seen:

In Iraq the agenda of the Arab and Muslim dictators came to lie in Parallel with that of Bin Laden. He found himself in great need for their support in order to fight the “infidels” in Iraq and they found him useful to hinder America’s plans there. This makes the question about America’s security on its own land not what the terrorists want, but rather what those dictatorships want. Any attack on the American soil will only result in the American people asking for justice and favoring an operation similar to what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is what the American administration wish for but can’t find the necessary support inside and outside America. The reaction of the international community would be not very important at such circumstances, but America is expected to get some good support if it’s attacked again. Now the terrorist are stupid and insane people, but their leaders and most importantly their financier are not that stupid when it comes to risking their power and control over their countries. So if the terrorist decide to act alone they would not only lose the support of these dictatorships but also would risk that those regimes might well, hunt them down in their countries and hand all the info they have about the terrorist to America just to prove their innocence and avoid a very probable serious American strike.

Bin Laden realized that his hands are cuffed now and he has lost the initiative and thus came his reactionary speech just before the elections in trying to retrieve some initiative or to excuse his cowardice for other Muslims who might still support him, saying that he’s not Attacking America because now there are two Americas and one of them is friendly! All he could do and all he can do as long as he’s depending on Arab governments in his finance and logistic support is to keep threatining America but he knows that he can never turn these threats into asctions. This makes Bush’s repeated statements that American troops are in Iraq to fight terrorism so that Americans won’t have to fight it in America very true with only slight error.

American troops are actually fighting dictatorship now in Iraq and terrorism has become just a tool in a war that was directed against it in the first place. Once America leave Iraq without finishing the job, the war would stop being a war on dictatorship and would be again a WoT with the difference that it would be a war against a phenomena rather than its origin. The terrorists would be free to attack America again, as Arab and Muslim dictators won’t fear a military strike similar to what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan after seeing America recognize Iraq war as a mistake.

He’s exactly right. By attacking Iraq, and threatening other state sponsors of terror, we explicitly tied the fate of the terrorists to that of their sponsors. It puts a large burden on our military—and there are limits to what we can do—but it’s the best strategy to deal with the terrorists that I’ve seen.

Putting the "bus" in Airbus

Stephen Karlson and Stephen Bainbridge are not looking forward to their inaugural Airbus A380 flights; quoth Bainbridge:

Now for the really bad news. You’ll only check in with 500 other passengers if the plane is configured with large first and business class sections. A discounter could cram over 840 coach passengers into the [expeltive deleted] thing if it wanted! Can you imagine the wait to get off it? Or to get your luggage at baggage claim.

Thankfully, those of us in flyover country won’t be seeing these behemoths at Jackson-Evers International Airport anytime soon.

Gender splits in the classroom

Heidi Bond and Amber Taylor are looking around some of their law classes and finding them to be male-dominated. This got me to thinking of my classes this semester, for which I just received final rosters earlier today.

  • Intro to American Government: about 50–50 (I think I counted 17 male students out of 36).
  • Con Law II (catalog name: Civil Liberties): about 60–40 female (16 students).
  • Public Opinion: 75–25 male (8 students).
  • Directed Readings and Honors Thesis: 100–0 female (two students, one in each).

The college population is about 55–45 female, and the political science major seems to be around 60–40 female. Not really sure why public opinion is less popular than con law with female students; if anything, I’d have expected the opposite, since con law really only makes sense for the pre-law types, who tend to be male here. Then again, it could be a scheduling thing; the MW 2:45–4 timeslot is pretty empty at Millsaps, while more classes are offered during the 1–2:15/40 slot (so there are more conflicts).

One other oddity: before looking at the roster, I would have guessed that intro was a bit more skewed female. I think part of that is the middle of the lecture hall seems more female, and it’s difficult to have the full class in my field of vision, particularly with glasses (49 seats are crammed in a room that probably was originally designed for 30, so lecturing in there is almost like performing in the “round”).

Well, would you look how that worked out

From “Reuters”:

Global warming and not a giant asteroid may have nearly wiped out life on Earth some 250 million years ago, an international team of scientists said on Thursday.

The mass extinction, known as the “Great Dying,” extinguished 90 percent of sea life and nearly three-quarters of land-based plants and animals.

There has been recent evidence that a big asteroid or meteor hit the Earth and triggered the catastrophe, but researchers say they now have evidence that something much more long-term—global warming—was the culprit.

It may be true, but there’s obviously reason to be skeptical. Very skeptical.

I still prefer the version in Dave

Steven Taylor has tracked down the actual lyrics for “Hail to the Chief,” for those watching the inauguration on TiVo delay or the morbidly curious. I missed the whole affair because the faculty was spending its time arguing about schedule changes that won’t go into effect for another year, but a skim of the transcript (þ: InstaPundit) suggests the inaugural address was pretty damn good, but doubtless spoiled by the delivery (and, for some, the messenger too).

What's on my TiVo lately

I just started watching a few new shows:

  • Veronica Mars (TiVo), a surprisingly good (and humorous) mystery show on UPN, starring terminally cute actress Kristen Bell as Veronica, popular chick turned outsider after the mysterious death of her best friend (and her sheriff dad’s perceived bungling of the investigation).
  • House, M.D. (TiVo), a medical drama on Fox starring Hugh Laurie as a thoroughly sociopathic doctor whose team tries to figure out what’s ailing patients at his hospital. Recommended to me by my mother, of all people.
  • Battlestar Galactica (TiVo), the Sci-Fi channel’s (amazingly good) reconceptualization of the often-cheesy 1970s sci-fi series as a dark, gritty space-based drama. I’ve raved about it here and elsewhere already.

So record one, or record ‘em all.

Poll'd again

Me, November 3rd:

My gut feeling is that the [2004 national exit polls] in part failed because the networks replaced VNS; Edison/Mitofsky was new at this, and a rookie effort is fraught with perils—as I learned myself yesterday. Coupled, perhaps, with a small cognitive bias on the part of the people being paid by Edison/Mitofsky to conduct the poll themselves (one suspects the typical person looking for day-work isn’t a Republican) and you can easily see why they were quite a bit off, notwithstanding the advertised margin of error.

Edison/Mitofsky, Wednesday:

[B]ased upon the Within Precinct Error that was observed in the 2004 general election we plan to make some enhancements to the exit poll interviewer recruiting process.

  • We will use recruiting methods that reduce the number of students and young adults we use as interviewers.
  • In addition to the standardized rehearsal and training dialog, we will add a standardized pre-rehearsal training script for all individual phone training conversations.
  • We will evaluate other training techniques such as a video training guide and interviewer tests and use the Internet more effectively as an interviewer training tool. (64)

There’s a lot more there if you really care about exit polling techniques, but the bottom line is that interviewer problems seem to account for much of the pro-Kerry bias in the Edison/Mitofsky poll. (þ: Wizbang)