May 6th, 2005

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On the British elections

The whole deal has about as much impact on my life as the German elections, but much like the NFL season, I follow Brit politics in a diffident way on account of how there's some correspondence between the Tories in the UK and the Republicans here. The big difference, as Mark Steyn observes, is that the Tories can't seem to bring themselves to campaign on the cultural issues that have galvanized the base of the Republicans and taken them off Wall Street and back to Main Street.

One observation that nobody seems to have made (not even the lads at England's Sword, who like Steyn and Jim Geraghty of NRO were liveblogging the election is that the Conservatives didn't make a lot of progress on their own merits. It seems to me from a cursory once-over of the various blogs and the BBC Elections page that Labor lost about 4.5% to the Liberal Democrats due to the war issue, which was enough to split the left in a lot of constituencies and let the Tory candidate in, very much like what went on in Canada before the Conservative and Reform parties merged. It seems pretty obvious to me that Steyn is right - the Tories are going to be mired in the minority until they take a page from the Reagan playbook and start speaking to social conservatives in the UK on topics like immigration, widespread yobbery and the EU, which might be enough to peel the necessary margin away from the UKIP, BNP and other fringe parties, to say nothing of Labor voters who don't like the way things are going.
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Boss Coffee

Comparing different flavors of Civicrack

I've been spending entirely too much time lately playing Civilization: Call to Power, trying to whip the game at the highest difficulty level and so far getting routinely beaten by the AI. I've played C2P II and been none too impressed - while some of the new units are cool, and playing on a real map of Earth is also cool, I still like the original C2P the best. The question I have (for chebutykin, mainly, but any other Civilization addicts in my friends list as well) is whether Civ III is an improvement on C2P II or a completely different animal? Is it worth buying?
the mark

The Real ID Act

Professor Death is skeptical about the anti-terrorist benefits of this bill, and Libertarian-in-elephant's clothes Ron Paul denounced it as a "national ID card". I personally don't think this is going to affect the GWoT except at the margins. Bruce Schneier , IIRC, is on record as saying exactly that, since IDs by themselves aren't that useful in enhancing security. Just look at all the forged drivers' licenses out there now - is adding a smart chip to the new ones really going to make that any tougher?

I think the ID will have its greatest effects in the area of immigration control, which is one area of the War on Terror that has consistently sucked ass for stupid political reasons. Especially if DHS is serious about handing out ID with RFID chips in them to legal immigrants...once you get a few hundred ICE agents with Treos out there checking out the IDs, we may actually be able to put the stomp of disapproval on all these businesses hiring illegals.

Colonel David Hackworth, 1931-2004

Hack joined the Army at the tail end of WW2, lying about his age so that he could enlist at the age of 15. He served in Vietnam, where he became the youngest full colonel at the age of 40. By the time he was forced to retire in 1971 after publicly criticizing the Army's tactics on ABC's Issues and Answers, he had spent seven of his 26 years in combat, won ten Silver Stars, eight Bronze Stars, eight Purple Hearts, and the Distinguished Service Cross. He was recommended for the Medal of Honor three times. Combat SF fans who knew of him recognized him immediately as "Colonel Cutprice" in John Ringo's novels Gust Front, When The Devil Dances, and Hell's Faire; in real life, he was a fierce critic of the Pentagon because he loved the Army and its soldiers.

I think Phil Carter said it best:

Hack dedicated himself fully to the pursuit of soldiering, and there is no doubt that he came to master it. Hack also devoted his life to his country, both while he served in uniform and afterwards, something I admire a great deal. Despite his disenchantment with the Army and the United States after Vietnam, Hack eventually returned to become one of this country's most strident advocates on defense policy issues. You could always rely on Hack to tell the story from the grunt's perspective, and also to call BS when he smelled it. On occasion, he was a little trigger-happy; I'm not sure all his criticisms hit the mark. But his heart was generally in the right place, and his work as a soldier and a patriot made this country stronger. I read all of his books, and while I didn't agree with every word, I certainly learned a lot from each one.

I never met Colonel Hackworth face to face; I knew him only through his book About Face and his columns for the King Syndicate. He deserved a better death than the lingering agony of cancer, but only God knows what we truly deserve, and sometimes shit just happens.

Via Phil Carter, among others.