Nero's Fiddle
A View From The Handbasket

Thursday, November 30, 2006
Put Saddam on work release
Posted by neros_fiddle at 1:18 PM
Bill O'Reilly gives his solution to the "thing in Iraq where various groups are blowing the crap out of each other without any clear governmental authority but most definitely isn't a civil war":

If the Bush administration will not consider dividing the country into three autonomous regions, then it must consider allowing the Iraqi military to run the place, much like Musharraf runs Pakistan. Yes, that would be brutal, but clearly, the Iraqi people are not embracing freedom. So imposing order through a military strong man might be the only way.


I hear there's a guy in Iraqi prison right now that has many years of experience in suppressing Iraq's ethnic tensions through the application of brutal repression. As a bonus, he also has extensive experience in fighting a war with Iran, which might come in handy.

He's been sentenced to death, but I'd think that being forced to clean up Iraq at this point would be a far worse fate.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006
A moment of silence, with video noise
Posted by neros_fiddle at 12:25 PM
Variety magazine reports on the death of an old friend.

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Friday, November 17, 2006
Great moments in encouraging piracy
Posted by neros_fiddle at 4:38 PM
So, in what way do the Weinstein brothers think that not offering their movies to customers of Netflix or any rental outlet other than Blockbuster will reduce the demand for illegal downloads of said films?

Stupid.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006
The beautiful agony of a failed install
Posted by neros_fiddle at 12:46 PM
Having just limped past another birthday this week, I'm clearly too old to understand Microsoft's advertising campaign for the their new Zune media player.



"Welcome to the social?" What does that mean? Are they comparing the experience of using a Zune to an ice cream party for little kids?

And is this really how a Zune user sees themselves?



If that's my "inner DJ," I'll keep that dude locked up, thanks.

But I'm clearly not the target market for this device, so it doesn't matter that I'm befuddled by the slogans. Yet, when your Zune software installation goes belly up (and the early reports I'm reading suggest that the odds of that are pretty good), you'll see this:



Just what exactly is going on here? Is she upset that she's not getting in on the hot make-out action next door? (Much like the user is getting left out of the "social" by the Zune install program blowing up?)

Or is Microsoft suggesting another activity that might ultimately prove more enjoyable than setting up and using a Zune?

Whichever, I'd like to see the look on Dad's face when Junior shows him this: "Uh, Dad? That fake iPod you gave me for Christmas doesn't work. But it's showing me porn. Thanks!"

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Sunday, November 12, 2006
Analysis Paralysis
Posted by neros_fiddle at 10:48 AM
I haven't posted anything in a week because I feel somehow obligated to say something interesting and insightful about the elections. The truth is that I have no piercing insights to share. The Democrats kicked the GOP's ass on Tuesday. The most interesting stat was that at least the last time I checked, the Republicans had gained nothing anywhere. No Democratic House seats, Senate seats or governorships became Republicans, which is nothing short of remarkable. (There was one House race in Georgia that was undecided the last time I checked, and held the potential to be a GOP pickup. The Dem candidate was ahead in the count, though.)

All things are cyclical of course, and it was perhaps inevitable that the blind arrogance of the neocons would eventually deliver diminishing returns. That it would result in a repudiation this complete this soon was surprising. I'd like to think that it represents a desire for a return to checks and balances and a grown-up foreign policy. For some voters, this was probably true, though many others pulling the Dem lever were probably angered by specific scandals or other less ideological motivations.

Appearances to the contrary, I'm not sitting here waving my blue flag and cheering "my side" -- it remains to be seen whether the Democrats can use this victory wisely or fritter it away like the fizzled "Republican revolution" of 1994 (which was a very different beast to the post-9/11 neocon rampage). Unless they find a way to be even more accommodating to the executive branch's desires than the last Congress, though, it can hardly be a step backward. Gridlock would be an upgrade.

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Friday, November 03, 2006
The November Surprise
Posted by neros_fiddle at 10:51 AM
...because October Surprises are so, you know, pre-"Internet time."

As the administration is well aware that (1) the only thing that will make a lot of American people think good thoughts about the ruling party at the moment is seeing the Bad Guys suffer and (2) any such good thoughts will be fleeting at best, the verdict and sentencing of Saddam Hussein has been scheduled for November 5, two days before the election. Iraq will still be a bloodbath on November 6, just as it will be on November 4, but the Republicans are clearly hoping that the sight of Saddam getting sentenced to death will cause the increasingly negative opinion of the war to backtrack those vital few percentage points, even it's only for 48 hours or so.

I'm sure a division of Diebold is working feverishly this very moment on devoting a corner of the touch-screen voting machines to a live video feed of Saddam hanging from the gallows.

EDIT/UPDATE: As I typed the above, I started with "seeing Muslims suffer" and then changed it to "seeing the Bad Guys suffer." The "Muslim" version didn't work, I thought, because Saddam was/is a genuinely venal bastard, and I didn't want to imply that his faults were only figments of America's Muslim-hating fever dreams. The fact that he was a Muslim, of course, was the key to the White House being able to substitute an invasion of Iraq for action against al-Qaeda, but in the end I felt better about the revised version.

Then I read this.

As Glenn Greenwald points out, this sort of attitude, even if held by a minority, is a prime enabler of our current foreign policy by forming a vital part of the administration's core support. So while I might feel it's unfair to label Saddam as a victim of US anti-Islamic hysteria, that distinction might well be much narrower than I thought.

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