Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Bush pulls the plug on Iraq reconstruction

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Bush pulls the plug on Iraq reconstruction

The Bush administration has scaled back its ambitions to rebuild Iraq from the devastation wrought by war and dictatorship and does not intend to seek new funds for reconstruction, it emerged yesterday.

In a decision that will be seen as a retreat from a promise by President George Bush to give Iraq the best infrastructure in the region, administration officials say they will not seek reconstruction funds when the budget request is presented to Congress next month, the Washington Post reported yesterday.

The $18.4bn (£10.6bn) allocation is scheduled to run out in June 2007. The move will be seen by critics as further evidence of the administration’s failure to plan for the aftermath of the war.

A decision not to renew the reconstruction programme would leave Iraq with the burden of tens of billions of dollars in unfinished projects, and an oil industry and electrical grid that have yet to return to pre-war production levels.

The decision is a tacit admission of the failure of the US rebuilding effort in the face of a relentless insurgency.

Maybe wars aren’t really very good for nations. Maybe wars are even worse for nations than vicious dictators are. Maybe there are better ways than shock and awe invasions to topple dictators, or at least ways that have less disastrous consequences. Maybe the U.S. is not militarily omnipotent.

Maybe the best thing we could do for Iraq now is free up a little extra reconstruction budget by getting our troops the hell out of there, and establishing good relations with the resulting Iraqi government or governments, and helping them rebuild.

Emacs Weenie

UPDATE: Steve says in the comments that he wrote this when he was “hammered.” It should be taken in that spirit. :) Very understandable.

Effective Emacs

The key to understanding Emacs is that it’s all about _efficiency_, which includes economy of motion. Any trained musician will tell you that economy of motion is critical to becoming a world-class virtuoso. Any unnecessary motion is wasted energy and yields sloppy results.

Using the mouse is almost always the worst possible violation of economy of motion, because you have to pick your hand up and fumble around with it. The mouse is a clumsy instrument, and Emacs gurus consider it a cache miss when they have to resort to using it.

Compared to Emacs Wizards, graphical-IDE users are the equivalent of amateur musicians, pawing at their instrument with a sort of desperation. An IDE has blinking lights and pretty dialogs that you can’t interact with properly (see Item 6), and gives newbies a nice comfortable sense of control. But that control is extremely crude, and all serious programmers prefer something that gives them more power.

I love emacs, but I hate rants like this. If this guy really cared about efficiency, he would have learned what interface specialists like Tog have known for eons: that keyboard shortcuts *feel* faster, but mouse motion *is* faster, empirically. I started reading this hoping for cool emacs ideas and I got to this paragraph and thought, “guess this guy prefers advocacy to facts.” After all, if he was all about economy of motion, wouldn’t he be using vi? No triple buckys!

If there was any question of this guy doing anything but chest-thumping, you could just read on to:

You don’t need a menu bar. It’s just a crutch placed there for disoriented newbies. You also don’t need a toolbar with big happy icons, nor do you need a scrollbar. All of these things are for losers, and they are just taking up precious screen real-estate. Turn them all off with the following code in your .emacs file:

“For losers”?

I can’t believe this made it to the front page of Reddit. Must be the LISP wankers.

The Internet and the Catholic Church and Other Tools of Abuse

You read “Through His Webcam, Boy Joins a Sordid Online World, and you get really freaking creeped out about what can happen to kids connected to creepy adults through the internet.

Then you can read something like The Big Al Ramos story and realize that you don’t need the internet and webcams for creepy adults to do horrible things to children. The Catholic Church heirarchy is just as effective a tool of molestation, and I’m sure there are many, many others.

There are some really insane child porn laws out there (e.g. if someone sends you child porn in email and you don’t open it, you’re still guilty because it was on your computer), and I’ve generally thought they were stupid, and well, I still do, but I can sure understand the motivation for them with investigators finding this kind of stuff happening.

So how *do* you protect your kids? Best first step I can think of to start off with is do your damndest to make sure your kids aren’t afraid to tell you anything, no matter what. Another is to give your kids the respect that you expect them to demand from other adults. Any other ideas?

Ads Probably Not Going to Ping Very Loud In The End

Here via here via the aggregator in the WordPress dashboard —

Chitika has been enjoying a lot of buzz around publishers cause they report very very high earnings compared to, say, Adsense. Turns out that those reports might be just a tad exaggerated. Turns out they have a monthly “auditing” process which decimates the earnings they report to you in the monthly reports. Other similar advertisers audit results to remove obvious click spamming, but usually this means a single digit percentage decrease, not the disappearance of the vast bulk of the reported income.

I kinda figured something like that was up, but I didn’t realize the extent of it. Ah well. Might bust it back down to just Adsense.

UPDATE: JenSense points out that she’s never heard of anyone actually receiving money from Chitika, and that they have a little out clause in the contract that says that they don’t have to pay you till their clients pay them. Huh.

Apparently the audit discounts not only obvious click fraud but innocent curiosity clicks — whatever that means.

So Chitika perhaps falls into the “too good to be true” category. We’ll see.