The Daily Whim

The Daily Whim


The Whistleblower Who Exposed Warrantless Wiretaps“President Bush condemned the leak to the Times as a ‘shameful act’” but to me, he sounds like a true patriot.

Textpattern 4.0.7 Released — A new tag parser brings us nested template tags, tags as attributes in other tags, and many old tags can now be used as “container” tags, plus a new variables tag, article expiration, an XML-RPC server, and more. A most commendable update. Many thanks to developers Ruud van Melick and Robert Wetzlmayr.

I’m Still Tortured by What I Saw in Iraq“I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. The large majority of suicide bombings in Iraq are still carried out by these foreigners. They are also involved in most of the attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. It’s no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse. The number of U.S. soldiers who have died because of our torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say that it is close to the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me — unless you don’t count American soldiers as Americans.”

The End: The era that defined Wall Street is finally, officially over — A long but fascinating article. “There’s a long list of people who now say they saw it coming all along but a far shorter one of people who actually did. Of those, even fewer had the nerve to bet on their vision […] In 2000, there had been $130 billion in subprime mortgage lending, with $55 billion of that repackaged as mortgage bonds. But in 2005, there was $625 billion in subprime mortgage loans, $507 billion of which found its way into mortgage bonds. Eisman couldn’t understand who was making all these loans or why […] That’s when Eisman finally got it. Here he’d been making these side bets with Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank on the fate of the BBB tranche without fully understanding why those firms were so eager to make the bets. Now he saw. There weren’t enough Americans with shitty credit taking out loans to satisfy investors’ appetite for the end product. The firms used Eisman’s bet to synthesize more of them. Here, then, was the difference between fantasy finance and fantasy football: When a fantasy player drafts Peyton Manning, he doesn’t create a second Peyton Manning to inflate the league’s stats. But when Eisman bought a credit-default swap, he enabled Deutsche Bank to create another bond identical in every respect but one to the original. The only difference was that there was no actual homebuyer or borrower. The only assets backing the bonds were the side bets Eisman and others made with firms like Goldman Sachs.”

That whole anti-American, friend-to-the-terrorists thing about President-elect Barack Obama? Never mind.Just a few weeks ago, at the height of the campaign, Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota told Chris Matthews of MSNBC that, when it came to Mr. Obama, “I’m very concerned that he may have anti-American views.” But there she was on Wednesday, after narrowly escaping defeat because of those comments, saying she was “extremely grateful that we have an African-American who has won this year.” Ms. Bachmann, a Republican, called Mr. Obama’s victory, which included her state, “a tremendous signal we sent.”

McCain Campaign Spends $14,000 on makeup for McCain and $150,000 on Palin’s wardrobe — I’m so very glad we no longer live in a political world (or recessionary times) where politicians get criticized for getting $400 haircuts, because in that world, McCain would be shredded for 14 grand in makeup. Nevermind $150,000 in clothes for his running mate (that’s three times the US median annual household income) for 2 months of campaigning (that’s $2,500 per day times 60 days). And Ms. American Populist didn’t spend it at a rural Wal-mart or Target, either. It was in the Big City, at Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus.

White supremacists target middle AmericaDerek Black, left, gets help from his father, Don, on his Internet radio show Sunday in Lake Worth Fla. Don Black is a former Ku Klux Klan leader, and Derek holds a seat on the Palm Beach County, Fla., GOP committee.

Unleashed, Palin Makes a Pit Bull Look TameWorse, Palin’s routine attacks on the media have begun to spill into ugliness. In Clearwater, arriving reporters were greeted with shouts and taunts by the crowd of about 3,000. Palin then went on to blame Katie Couric’s questions for her “less-than-successful interview with kinda mainstream media.” At that, Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, “Sit down, boy.”

Elite Officer Recalls Bin Laden Hunt, Delta Force Commander Says The Best Plan To Kill The Al Qaeda Leader In 2001 Was NixedThe original plan that we sent up through our higher headquarters, Delta Force wants to come in over the mountain with oxygen, coming from the Pakistan side, over the mountains and come in and get a drop on bin Laden from behind […] The next option that Delta wanted to employ was to drop hundreds of landmines in the mountain passes that led to Pakistan, which was bin Laden’s escape route […] But they didn’t do that either, because Fury says that plan was also disapproved […] “How often does Delta come up with a tactical plan that’s disapproved by higher headquarters?” Pelley asks. “In my experience, in my five years at Delta, never before,” Fury says […] And then something extraordinary happened: Fury’s Afghan allies announced they had negotiated a cease fire with al Qaeda, something the Americans had no interest in. When Fury’s team advanced anyway, his Afghan partners drew their weapons on Delta.

Bush Administration Adds Over $4 Trillion To National DebtIt’s the biggest increase under any president in U.S history. On the day President Bush took office, the national debt stood at $5.727 trillion. The latest number from the Treasury Department shows the national debt now stands at more than $9.849 trillion. That’s a 71.9 percent increase on Mr. Bush’s watch.

Lesson From a Crisis – When Trust Vanishes, WorryIn 1929, Meyer Mishkin owned a shop in New York that sold silk shirts to workingmen. When the stock market crashed that October, he turned to his son, then a student at City College, and offered a version of this sentiment: It serves those rich scoundrels right. A year later, as Wall Street’s problems were starting to spill into the broader economy, Mr. Mishkin’s store went out of business. He no longer had enough customers. His son had to go to work to support the family, and Mr. Mishkin never held a steady job again. “We are facing a major national crisis,” as Meyer Mishkin’s grandson says. “To do nothing right now is to do what was done during the Great Depression.”

Gas: Desperate Atlantans Use Twitter To Find Gas“They’re tagging their posts #atlgas whenever they spot some and letting others know the price and location.” View a twitter search for #atlgas.

Freddie Mac Money Trail Catches Up With McCainBut the payments to [campaign manager Rick] Davis’s firm, Davis Manafort, are especially problematic because he requested the consulting retainer in 2006 — and then did barely any work for the fees […] Freddie Mac also had no dealings with the lobbying firm beyond paying monthly invoices — but it agreed to the arrangement because of Davis’s close relationship with McCain, the source said, which led top executives to conclude “you couldn’t say no.”

Hugh Hewitt’s Memo To House Republicans — Wow, it’s a Red Letter Day … Hugh actually makes sense.

McCain Meltdown Moves To Mississippi“It just proves his campaign is governed by tactics and not ideology,” said Republican consultant Craig Shirley, who advised McCain earlier in this cycle. “In the end, he blinked and Obama did not. The ‘steady hand in a storm’ argument looks now to more favor Obama, not McCain […] My guess is that plasma units are rushing to the McCain campaign as we speak to replace the blood flowing there from the fights among the staff.” Adding to the rocky perception was a McCain campaign web ad released this morning declaring “McCain Wins Debate!” — put out even before the candidate had announced he was planning to debate.

A High Definition Movie Made With A “Still” Camera · Excuse my drooling. This movie was made with a prototype copy of the Canon 5D Mark II. Canon has placed it online at one quarter of the original 1920×1080 resolution … and it’s simply stunning. From the guy who made the movie: “I had it in my hands for less than 72 hours before I had to send it back — but the time I did have with a prototype of the Canon EOS 5D MKII will possibly change the path of my career as well as the photography industry…”

Canon EOS 5D Mark II: 21MP and HD moviesYowzer! The long awaited successor to my current camera has finally been announced, and just in time for my birthday! And I would like to thank Canon for waiting a full 15 months after my $2700 purchase before making it obsolete.

HTML 5 Won t Be Ready Until 2022. Yes, 2022“Part of the reason for the long timeline is that HTML 5 attempts to do something HTML 4 never did — not only does HTML specify new tags for HTML authors, it dictates how a browser should render a page, how it should handle errors and more. The end result is that it may well take 13 years for browsers to comply with every line in the HTML 5 spec” Jeez, Louise, talk about repeating history. Haven’t we been here before? “Even though it was backwards compatible with HTML 2.0, the difference between HTML 2.0 and HTML 3.0 was so large that standardization and deployment of the whole proposal in browsers of the time proved unwieldy.”

Blizzard of Lies“Did you hear about how Barack Obama wants to have sex education in kindergarten, and called Sarah Palin a pig? Did you hear about how Ms. Palin told Congress, ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ when it wanted to buy Alaska a Bridge to Nowhere? These stories have two things in common: they’re all claims recently made by the McCain campaign — and they’re all out-and-out lies […] How a politician campaigns tells you a lot about how he or she would govern.”

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