Charles Oliver - Econ/Media-Boy
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Charles C. Watson - Science/Tech-Boy
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Ron Campbell - sushi-bait.
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Even a blogger needs to eat. This blog is primarily Charles' hobby. But if he is intent on continuing to woo the Hooter's waitresses in Chatanooga he needs something that pays.... wings don't come free you know. Here's a link to his day job where he works the education beat and, assuming he can't annoy enough people that way, is sometimes allowed to write opinion pieces.

Need perspective? Watson offers readers all they could possibly eat. For a unique view on current events, namely how they look from orbit, here's Chuck's Real-Time(ish) Satellite Imagery of Areas of Interest. Whenever it strikes his fancy, and there's good telemetry, Chuck will process and post near real-time images of locations in the news. Eminently engrossing.

Wanna get into the head of a Japanese salaryman? Why, for Chis'sakes?! Well, assumin' you do, feel welcome to check out the on-line journal of Campbell's English class. Everyday, a group of disaffected salarymen are required to spill out their inner-most thoughts about life, the universe and everything in broken English. Amazingly prosaic.

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Shoutin' across the Pacific
Chiizu taberu koufuku shiteiru saru ga kangei-saremasen.
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
WARNING! This is not for the weak.

posted by Charles at 9:26 PM

Friday, July 23, 2004
Defending the Homeland
Those of you (like Neil Boortz) who have quaffed deeply of the current administration's kool-aid on homeland security and national defense should read this commentary on Arizona border security.

I'm increasingly disgusted with Bush's homeland security efforts, which seem to be largely cosmetic. If he wants to be re-elected, he needs to answer the question: where will a Reserve or National Guard division do the most good, Japan, Germany, Iraq, or on the Mexican Border. The "lets fight terrorists overseas, not in the US" argument doesn't hold up well unless you also do something serious about border security.

The 40% or so of our ground forces committed in Iraq aren't doing anything to stop individual or small affinity groups of Syrians, Iraqis, or for that matter any of the Asian Islamisist groups from sneaking across the border and causing mayhem. The ports initiatives, the intrusive (and largely ineffective) airport searches of 80 year old Medal of Honor recipiants are pretty much pointless if you can just walk across the border.

posted by Chuck at 9:25 AM

Thursday, July 22, 2004
>Full Military Honors. Readers of this blog, and it seems just about every newspaper in the nation, will recall Juan Lopez, the Dalton Marine killed recently in Iraq. He was buried in Mexico, where the government refused the Marines' request to fire rifles in salute. And on the day of the funeral, Mexican soldiers showed up, univited, and harrassed the Marine honor guard acommpanying the body.

When members of a Chattanooga unit of the Tennessee Army National Guard heard about this, they offered to conduct a full military funeral for Lopez's Dalton family and friends. (Chattanooga is about 30 minutes north of Dalton). It will be held this Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Chattanooga National Cemetery and is open to the public.

A Marine officer will present Lopez's ife Sandra Torres with flag that draped his casket.

posted by Charles at 10:35 AM

Saturday, July 17, 2004
Conway Has Another hit. Conway Twitty has been dead for about 11 years. But a duetwith Anita Cochran is climbing the Country charts.
Now, singers have recorded "duets" before: Hank Williams Jr. sang with his daddy on "Tear in My Beer"; Natalie Cole sang "Unforgettable" with her father.
But in those cases the living singer sang along with a previously recorded track. Conway never sang "Hear a Cheatin' Song." Producers took his recordings and chopped out individual words and even single sylabells and spliced them together to come up with his part.
I hacen't heard the single, but I have serious doubts that this technology could produce anything really soulful. But if the record is a hit, I expect plenty more new songs from Conway and any other deceased singers whose heirs consent to it.

posted by Charles at 9:46 PM

Four More Days. Georgia's general primary is Tuesday, and I can't wait for it to be over. The primary will decide most local races, and after the last three weeks or so, I think that's a good thing. I probably shouldn't go into all the details here. But I will say that I've spent a lot of long days around some nutty people.

posted by Charles at 3:03 PM

Sunday, July 11, 2004
Intelligence Failure, or a Failure of Intellect?
It's been hard to view the discussions around the Senate report on intel leading up to the Iraq invasion with anything other than mild amusement. For what it's worth, here are my thoughts:

If you think about it, the pre-war intel was actually right. The majority of the intel suggested that Iraq had no significant WMD, but that there might be a few bits and pieces left over from the late 80's - early 90's. The leadership of Iraq wanted to obtain WMD, and other countries were actively violating the sanctions, but Iraq was several years away from operationally significant WMD under the best of circumstances, and the inspection regime was limiting their ability to move forward.

It is very rare that you get "tablets from God" level of intel. Normally, for a given proposition you get a wide spectrum of data that suggests pretty much any answer you want. For example, on the question "Does Iraq have militarily significant WMD", probably 10% of the data said "yes", 20% said "maybe", and 70% of the data said "no". I'd say that after a year of occupation, the data is probably about the same distribution.

The argument before the war was a policy, not an intel, debate. And that debate continues today in basically the same form, but with both sides using the intel agencies as 'scape goats. If you want to believe Iraq had enough WMD to justify the war, you will look at the few arty shells that have turned up, the illegal missile components, and go "AHA!". Likewise, a look at the few bits that have surfaced could lead an objective observer to say "See, Iraq had no significant program". So both before and after the war, people see what the want to see.

The similarity of this to the 9/11 intel is striking. In my view, the bottom line in both situations is not that there was failure in collecting the raw intelligence. The problem was a failure to properly analyze that data or formulate rational policy in response to that data.

Unfortunately, the intel agencies will once again be blamed for what are in reality policy failures.

addendum: a pox on both your houses
Just to be clear (and to put this in perspective for those who view everything in the light of the current election, and see every opinion as "you either blindly support us or you are an unpatriotic scumbag"), the above isn't a just a slam at the current administration. We haven't had a coherent foreign policy (and, by extension, a coherent military or intel policy) since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Both major parties, in both the White House and Congress, have been criminally incompetent in the fields of foreign and military policy over the last decade (and economics too, for that matter).

posted by Chuck at 2:27 PM

Saturday, July 10, 2004
Pete Townsend's Pissed. And wouldn't you know Michael Moore is to blame.

posted by Charles at 4:49 PM

Monday, July 05, 2004
Gay Porn Rapist? I surprised Clayton Cramer and John Derbsyhire aren't all over this one.

posted by Charles at 5:27 PM

Mexican Standoff. I don't have to work Monday. But I'm pretty sure what everyone in Dalton will be talking about.

posted by Charles at 12:20 AM

Sunday, July 04, 2004
Not Your Mother's Tupperware Party. Or then again, maybe it is. Thanks to Domenic for the heads up.

posted by Charles at 10:53 AM

Thursday, July 01, 2004
Memory Hole. Slate deleted this, apparently after threats from the publisher's lawyers.

My favorite bits:

Page 197: "I was so exhausted I fell asleep while the stripper was dancing and the goat head was looking up at me." Look it up for yourself.

Page 14: "Hillary says the first time she ever saw me, I was in the Yale Law School lounge bragging to skeptical fellow students about the size of Hope watermelons."

posted by Charles at 3:39 PM

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