diary on hiatus

A blog is really like a section of a newspaper.

Now, what kind of newspaper is your blog? Is it a features section? A photography or style section? A help wanted ad? Or is it a long, winding, boring, self-righteous column–your sort-of ironic revenge on all the shite columnists the mainstream media foisted on your news-craving eyes for so many years?

Or is it the “diary of a launch” blog for a site which is now a year old? is a year old this month.

Either way, some newspapers shut sections down for periods.

So for now, this “Dan’s Diary” blog is now being temporarily shelved alongside the

Dan’s Diary 2008 photo

Wow, Chelsea – you're just another Clinton liar and fantasist


[photo: Philgarlic]

Pushed further and further into the spotlight as her mother’s campaign has fallen behind to the relentless and now unstoppable Barack Obama, Chelsea Clinton is acquitting herself rather poorly as a public personality.

Clearly the young Clinton’s speaking voice has much more of her mother’s shrill, graceless yammer than her father’s smooth hillbilly drawl.  But there are deeper problems with her recent appearances than just an annoying tone.  What has really catapulted Chelsea’s attempted rallies into the media spotlight is her petulant sense of entitlement and insistence on campaigning within her own warped sense of context.

Consider her response when asked at Butler University about whether the Monica Lewinsky scandal had damaged Hillary Clinton’s reputation:

‘"Wow, you’re the first person actually that’s ever asked me that question in the, I don’t know maybe, 70 college campuses I’ve now been to, and I do not think that is any of your business."’

What Chelsea must be forgetting is that her father lied to the American people about the issue–that press conference was his chance to use the "none of your business" line, but Bill Clinton let that particular horse out of the barn by addressing the issue with an angry misleading insistence–and that many Americans suspect that the preservation of the Clintons’ marriage was a calculated, Faustian bargain made in the interests of greater money and power for the both of them.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign has already planted questioners at campaign events in Iowa, but the recent revelations about her lies about her 1996 Bosnia trip are an even clearer exposition of her fundamental dishonesty and emphasis on political expediency over the unambiguous truth–and there’s Chelsea Clinton, backing up the falsehoods from her own supposed recollection:

"I support what she said."

Until recently the Clinton campaign has been able to shelter their fledgling apprentice liar:

‘She has largely operated under the radar, speaking frequently to the kind of young audiences that often favour Mrs Clinton’s rival Barack Obama but never granting interviews and being protected by campaign aides who swoop on any reporter who has the temerity to attempt to ask a question.

Events are usually arranged at short notice and only publicised locally. In some cases it is specified that only students are allowed to attend.’

They can try to ensure that her gaffes are aired in front of limited audiences, but Chelsea Clinton has clearly made herself a public figure and the idea that she has some protected status that places her "business" beyond scrutiny is nothing more than moronic fantasy, no doubt nurtured by her arrogant parents and her fear of facing the truth about them.

Advertiser-driven stupidity at CNET

Microsoft and companies whose products run its software are important ad buyers at CNET. It is hard not to think about that when I see a headline on one of CNET’s blogs that reads:

“Get over it already. Microsoft is not the Anti-Christ.”

Well, first of all, I don’t know who’s saying that. But informed people are saying that Microsoft is a convicted monopolist with a long history of anti-competitive practices, livid hostility to open source software, an embarrassingly lame portable media player, and a disastrously bad new operating system whose horror stories have deterred me (a Microsoft DOS/Windows user since the 1980s) from wanting to buy another Windows machine when I upgrade.

But why focus on that? Why not attack a straw man who proclaims Microsoft to be an apocalyptic danger to the world, or whatever?

Taking some Microsoft lawyer at his word, the author wants us to believe that Microsoft has thoroughly changed its spots. Maybe he’s just stupid–but again, it’s probably just the advertising money talking.

Perhaps realizing that he has gone a bit too far to have any credibility on the matter, toward the end of the CNET post the author, Charles Cooper, offers this assertion:

“I’m not going to alibi for Microsoft.”

Fair enough, but only because “alibi” is not used as a verb by most educated people. That aside, Cooper is certainly shilling for Microsoft.

The long-predicted housing disaster unfolds

This article in the Telegraph about the credit crunch that began last year (and has begun to engulf major investment banks and the U.S. Treasury) makes a note of the loss of confidence in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. For those of us who have been following this housing market bubble with the kind of acid skepticism that it deserves, finding out that we were right in believing that housing couldn’t out-pace income indefinitely can only bring so much clarity about what’s next for the markets–none of it, probably, any good.

With that in mind, here is what I wrote about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac [.doc file] in a grad school paper in 2004. I had to frame the issue in the terms of the business ethics course I was writing it for, but for what it’s worth I was quite in a hurry then to pour cold water on these badly designed market inflation machines.

Like most scams, this housing credit disaster has unwound only when the market dipped. It should have been a sign that the end of the bubble was near when a Bear Stearns hedge fund collapsed in June 2007–clearly foreshadowing the near-collapse and pending sellout to JP Morgan Chase for considerably less than the firm’s recent market capitalization that has developed this month. What is Bear Sterns at this point, anyway, but an enormous ill-managed hedge fund itself?

The fact that the Federal Reserve is involved in trying to help bail out Stearns is another embarrassment to and encroachment upon America’s supposedly free markets. Why are those companies not on Wall Street expected to bear the brunt of their mistakes while those on Wall Street and in Greenwich, who have created a risk-management disaster, are to be bailed out? Maybe if there had been some semblance of regulation on hedge funds and other areas of the finanical sector, none of this would have happened–but that wasn’t encouraged in any substantive way by partisan hack charlatan Alan Greenspan, or his already low-rated successor.

When you hear people say, ‘this might be a good time to buy a house, now that the market is down,’ I’d let them know that there’s no hurry. The credit crunch that began in 2007 is likely to continue for a while.

Hide your shameful crocodile tears you war-mongers

General George Casey, one of those “commanders on the ground” in Iraq, didn’t like the surge, so he was demoted.

And so then George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld brought in David Petraeus and sold the man as a new kind of leader, who conveniently enough backed escalation. I can understand why some people see him as a political hack.

All those crocodile tears over names he was called made you right wingers look pretty stupid, and weak, you know.

However the stupid debate in Congress over’s ad ended up, it’s clear that as 2007 is the deadliest year yet for U.S. troops the “surge” is not “working.”

Now that “reconciliation” among Iraqi factions has been largely ruled out, it’s time for new leadership over the U.S. military in Iraq.

And America should take Britain’s example and start withdrawing, now.

And for those of you who will continue to insist that the project of turning over Baghdad to Iranian agents is an ever-turning tide about to sweep America to victory parades, stop pretending to care about decorum while selling a murderous war. It’s inane.

Microsoft on the margins

Microsoft still occasionally annoys; but with the rise of Firefox and its main backer, Google, it’s getting easier to use PCs all the time as more and more time is spent on the web browser platform rather than the Windows platform. With the bundling of Sun StarOffice with Google’s software downloads pack, it’s time to reflect on just how much ground Redmond has lost to Mountain View, and why on balance that’s a good thing.

I had a professor in college who taught a sort of postulate he called “the law of exact duplicates.” To illustrate it, he told the story of two people walking into an apartment. One person walks in and says, this isn’t my stuff! His friend says, of course it is this is your place, and I’ve seen this stuff before, it’s yours. But, the apartment dweller answers, someone came in and replaced every item of mine with an exact duplicate.

John C. Dvorak writes:

‘Personally, I wonder if the company can survive without Gates there on a day-to-day basis, berating the masochistic coders with his chiding. Two of his favorites include, “Do we actually pay you to work here?” and “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve EVER heard.” People always complain that Steve Jobs is a big meanie to the staff, but Gates is just as bad.’

But here’s where exact duplicates come in–what if Bill Gates if just a great programmer and businessman and is truly surrounded by idiots that really do totally exasperate and disappoint him, stifling the innovation he so vehemently works for?

Ok, well, what’s the difference anyway. The point is that (even in the view of this Windows XP desktop user) Microsoft is a lousy company that treats customers poorly and peripheral stuff like the Zune and the Xbox 360 and the $60 MS Office for Students deal isn’t going to stop the momentum behind the platform being built on Firefox (and IE to some extent, sure) that will run just as easily on cool Apple machines and cheap Linux boxes as the old PC platform–especially if their latest operating system product Windows Vista, which I’ve never used, is as bad as some people say.

Microsoft, after all, has a long history of outright corruption in their busines practices, from becoming a convicted monopolist (a final verdict that the Bush administration arrived to late to overturn–though the judge who reduced the punishment went on to head the rubber stamp FISA court) to paying fees that belonged to Novell to now-bankrupt intellectual-property shakedown racket SCO.

Of course, Republican lobbyist and convicted fraudster Jack Abramoff worked for the law firm of Bill Gates’s dad until the end of 2000.

So the Google guys are paying NASA a million plus to land their private jet at Moffet Field. That’s not a big deal compared to Microsoft.

Seeing the screenshots of Microsoft’s answer to Google Analytics and trying to use the awful IE 7 (despite what people might say, it’s a terrible browser for what it’s worth; even Safari for Windows is better) to test pages today was just the reminder I needed to finally write this post.

Yes, Google has its flaws and downsides. After so much innovation with Ajax-powered apps like Gmail, Reader, Calendar and Docs, they seem to be sort of taking a break. But their programs in the online space are mostly very good, they keep getting better and they are much, much better than similar entries from Microsoft, who will always be off their turf outside the PC desktop platform.

“It does not include going into Iran”–Make a note of that, Lieberman

In the Senate hearings on Iraq, Joe Lieberman can’t get even General David Petraeus to mouth the words he wants about Iran. Here’s the general in response to Lieberman’s war-mongering and blaming Iran for all of America’s problems:

‘My area of responsibility is Iraq; it does not include going into Iran.’

So yes, there are actually hearings happening about the Iraq war. But wait– Jeff Sessions is now underhanding his softballs at Petraeus and Ryan Crocker right after that goon Lieberman tried to gin up a war with Iran?

Why are two Republicans going in a row? Is this really what American voted for in 2006? [But seriously–just because some fools in Connecticut, which is the land of George W. Bush after all, voted Lieberman in doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be thrown off his Senate committee seats for party disloyalty.]

It seems like Crocker and Petraeus are having a hard time selling this pointless war overall–a few Democrats have actually confronted them over their pat descriptions and summations and have landed some real blows for those actually listening–but I think I see what the ambassador and the general are trying to do.

They are making a very weak case for a little more war (it’s always sold a little bit at a time) and trying to cloud the issue, to convince a few Congressional idiots that “these [illusory] gains will stand up,” as Jack Reed gullibly put it.

Just keep shifting the area of emphasis, tell people to focus on one province now and a different one later, use one metric now and a different one later, blame “al Qaeda” today and Iran tomorrow and yesterday, ask for “six more months” every six months, keep using the word “tribal”–it’s a pretty stupid shell game, sure, but America has some pretty stupid lawmakers.