Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Color Photos from WWII

A stunning display of color photos from the late 1930s and early 1940s is available, free of charge from the Library of Congress website. Your government at work. (The entire LOC collection is here, apparently.)

A President's Obligation

Hillary Clinton raised an interesting point over the weekend in Iowa. Speaking of Bush's plan, she said:
I think it’s the height of irresponsibility and I really resent it — this was his decision to go to war, he went with an ill-conceived plan, an incompetently executed strategy, and we should expect him to extricate our country from this before he leaves office.

Today, the Naval admiral that will likely lead the US forces in Iraq, William Fallon, pointed to what "victory" might look like:
And maybe we ought to redefine the goals here a bit and do something that's more realistic in terms of getting some progress and then maybe take on the other things later...I think that we would probably be wise to temper our expectations here, that the likelihood that Iraq is suddenly going to turn into something that looks close to what we enjoy here in this country is going to be a long time coming.

The Administration may be preparing, in the words of George Aiken, to take Hillary's advice and find a way to 'declare victory and go home.'

Friday, January 26, 2007


The Washington Post has a new profile of Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel (R) this morning. He is apparently mulling a possible Presidential bid.

Although, as the article points out, Hagel is incurring the wrath of the GOP for his vote in favor of the Democratic non-binding resolution against the "Surge" earlier this week, it is a point of differential with other GOP candidates. McCain, Romney, and Giuliani have all supported the President's "New Way Forward" in Iraq.

By voting against the surge, Hagel has created political space between himself and the three leading GOP contenders. (Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), a declared candidate, has come also out against the surge.) But it's an open question whether being opposed to the President is the right political strategy in the GOP primary, whether or not the surge proves effective.

What is Victory?

Tony Lake's op-ed in the Globe today focuses on what has gone wrong in Iraq:

[He] asked why some who supported the war were arguing that we must persist because we could not afford another "defeated army " of the kind we had seen after Vietnam. Here is what I told him:

Their argument is wrong in fact and unintentionally unfair to our troops. Our Army was never defeated in Vietnam. They were not driven out of Vietnam. They won their battles. The fault lay not in their performance, but in their civilian leaders in Washington. They were given an unattainable goal. "Success" in Vietnam could only be achieved if we could leave behind a Vietnamese government that could survive on its own -- a political goal. And even after the longest war in our history, it was unattainable. Lacking enough support by its people, the government in Saigon became more and more dependent on the United States -- further limiting its political support among a highly nationalistic Vietnamese people.

Lake was Clinton's National Security Adviser, and served in Vietnam with the State Department.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

"...and the dream will never die."

Scot Lehigh's column in today's Globe put it bluntly: "And so the dream ends for John Kerry. He will never be president."

By removing himself from the 2008 campaign, Kerry has effectively ended his aspirations; the end of a life-long dream must be difficult for a man who worked so hard, and so long, to put himself in position to be President.

One question that must be ringing through Kerry's mind (together with those close to him) this morning: could he have done more to try to win Ohio (or one of the other swing-states) in 2004?

Finally, Lehigh's column brings back the end of the Presidential dreams of another Massachusetts senator:
"For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end. For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."

Senator Edward M. Kennedy - August 12, 1980

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Fan Pier Construction Begins

After many false starts, construction on the Fan Pier hotel has apparently begun, with the delivery of (what appear to be) construction modules last night (1/23/2007). The changing face of Boston's waterfront looks like it will begin in earnest.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Mr. Jobs and Stock Options, continued

Reuters is reporting that Apple's Steve Jobs has been 'questioned' by the SEC and the Justice Department in connection with the backdating of Apple's options during the 1998-2006 period. (See previous posts.)

Even if Apple's story holds up (which is that a few individuals, former CFO Fred Anderson and former General Counsel Nancy Heinen, and perhaps Wendy Howell, a lawyer who reported to Heinan) were responsible for all of the bad actions, it is still not surprising that the "Feds" want to talk to everyone who was involved.

Today's story also noted that:
Chris Steskal, the lead attorney in the Justice Department's investigation, left in January to join law firm Fenwick & West LLP as a partner, according to the firm's Web site.

The Fenwick & West site states that
Prior to joining Fenwick & West, Chris [Steskal] was an Assistant U.S. Attorney, working as part of the Securities Fraud Section and Stock Option Task Force of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco.

In a coincidence, TPM's Muckraker site also reports that San Francisco U.S. Attorney Keven Ryan also recently left his post; there are rumors about a recent series of U.S. Attorneys who have left their posts in the past few months under cloudy circumstances. The renewal last fall of the USA Patriot Act apparently gave the Bush Administration wide(r) latitude to replace U.S. Attorneys.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Concussions and the NFL

Interesting article in the New York Times today on the suicide of former NFL player Andre Waters and possible links to the concussions he suffered while playing.

Kudos to FOAP (Friend of Allerton's Point) Chris Nowinski, who identified the potential connection from news media reports of Waters' death and convinced the family to pursue testing.

McCain's Slipping in NH?

The Boston Herald is reporting a new poll showing McCain slipping significantly among independent voters in New Hampshire, from 49% a year to 29% today. The New Hampshire findings are similar to those reported last month in the Washington Post, which showed McCain slipping about 15% nationwide among independents.

But while the national polls will be cited as vulnerability on McCain's strongest argument -- general election appeal -- the New Hampshire one has more immediate ramifications. Independent voters are especially important in New Hampshire because they can take either ballot -- Republican or Democractic -- when they go to the polls on Primary Day; in 2000, McCain's surge came from Independents who chose him over Bill Bradley.)

The decline comes at a time when McCain is backing the President's plan for sending more troops to Iraq and has aggressively reached out to conservative groups and Christian conservative leaders, both of which are unpopular among independents. Moreover, he may have calculated that notwithstanding New Hampshire, independents are not are important as 'base conservatives' in GOP primaries. Those voters were Bush's firewall in South Carolina, and McCain has been trying to create own "Southern safe haven."

Do not be surprised to see a number of "McCain in trouble" stories in the press. The polls referenced above will start the ball rolling, and will be reinforced by a grouchy press corps that will no longer have the same unfettered access to the candidate as they had in 2000 on the "Straight Talk Express." But the GOP base is no fan of the MSM, and McCain may in fact be helped with Republican voters when he is criticized by the editorial pages of the NYT.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What's a Challenge Worth?

In the aftermath of the Chargers' meltdown on Sunday against the Patriots, Marty Schottenheimer has come under criticism from all sides. One play that stood out was the decision to challenge the ruling-on-the-field of the interception by Marlon McCree and subsequent strip by Patriots WR Troy Brown; the play was a 4th-and-5 with the Pats down by 8 points with just 6:25 left in the game. If the interception had stood (or, for that matter, if McCree had batted the ball down, giving the Chargers possession), the game likely would have swung to the Chargers.

Schottenheimer was criticized for throwing a challenge flag on a play that did not seem (at first glance, or later) to be ripe to be overturned. Further, the Chargers could have used the lost timeout later in the game when, down a field goal with under a minute to go, they tried to mount one final drive.

It's easy to criticize Schottenheimer, the owner of a 5-13 record in the playoffs. (He's also the holder of the dubious distinction of being the NFL coach with the most career wins (200) without a Super Bowl appearance.) However, if the call had been overturned -- as unlikely as that seemed to be given the replays -- the Chargers would have likely won.

But Baltimore Ravens Coach Brian Billick should be subject to even harsher criticism. With approximately 6 minutes left in the third quarter against the Colts, he challenged a fumble out of bounds that still left the Colts with a 3rd-and-4 at midfield; whether the call was correct or not, the Ravens needed the timeout (and the coach's challenge) much more than the swing of 7 yards.

As it turned out, the wasted challenge came back to haunt the Ravens. With the Colts embarking on what turned out to be the game-clinching drive, they reached midfield and a 3rd-and-5. After calling their final timeout, Peyton Manning threw a ball to Dallas Clark that appeared to be well-covered by the Ravens' Corey Ivy. But Clark reached out with one hand, tipped the ball to himself, juggled it against his thigh pad, and ultimately came up holding the ball with an apparent catch. With no challenge in reserve, Billick had no choice but to accept the proverbial 'ruling-on-the-field.' The Colts continued down the field, and ultimately finished the game with a final field goal.

With all the statistical analysis that goes into sports writing and watching today, I am surprised that there is not more written on the 'proper' use of a coach's challenge. But when a team's season is on the line -- and can be saved by the use of a challenge -- it seems reasonable to expect the coach to use it. Unless of course he's wasted it already in the 3rd quarter.

Friday, January 12, 2007

And Now Pakistan?

Yesterday was a huge news day, as commentators tried to unpack the President's speech from Wednesday, and absorb Hill testimony from Sec of State Condi Rice and Sec of Defense Robert Gates, together with Congressional reaction to the surge/escalation itself.

However, lost in the US coverage of the events was disturbing testimony from National Intelligence Director John Negroponte accusing Pakistan of turning a blind eye to al Qaeda's 'rebuilding' within that country's borders. So far, only the BBC is seeming to feature the story prominently, with this comment:
The BBC's James Westhead in Washington says that until now the US has not been so specific about where it believes al-Qaeda's leaders are hiding.

Such a claim will be embarrassing for Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf, who Mr Negroponte described as a key partner in America's war on terror, our correspondent says.

Putting pressure on Pakistan (which has been described as a key ally in the region since 9/11) would seem to be risky when so many other parts are moving at the same time.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Bend It Like Beckham

The NASL/Cosmos documentary this summer ("Once in a Lifetime") was like a trip down memory lane for 'sports-fans-of-a-certain-age.' Now, with the imminent arrival of David Beckham on US shores next year, perhaps our children will be exposed to the celebritization of the "beautiful game."

While the World Cup last summer showed that Becks has lost a step (or two), he still remains one of the most recognized athletes in the world. And he will put soccer (er, football) back on the map in the US for a while.

When does the Galaxy come to Foxboro?

Apple v. Cisco

Lost in the tumult over Apple's (very successful, apparently) launch of its new cellphone was the fact that Apple was sued the next day by Cisco for trademark infringement. Cisco, it seems, has been selling a VoIP phone of that name since the spring of last year. (Cisco, in turn, acquired the mark when it made an acquisition in 2000.)

A few thoughts: first, Apple and Cisco apparently had been negotiating through the weekend (with the announcement looming over the talks) over licensing rights to the name. Wonder what the difference in prices were at the end?

Second, the USPTO does recognize the same "mark" in different categories, so Apple may be betting on the ability to differentiate the two phones (so as not to confuse the public, which is essentially the test the USPTO applies). But at first blush, it seems that Apple has an uphill battle to prove that the cellphone and VoIP phone markets are so distinct that consumers won't be confused.

Third, it's interesting to note that Apple was also involved in a high-profile litigation with Apple Corps (the Beatles' label) over the use of the "Apple" in connection with music (iTunes, iPod, etc.)

Finally, it's rare to see two corporate giants litigate head-to-head. Enjoy the show.

Maliki's Base

The main assumption of Bush's new Iraq tactical plan seemed to be that Prime Minister Maliki's government is a separate entity from the political forces around him. A indepedent central government, in Bush's formulation, should be willing to put down death squads and other terrorists in the interest of the "Iraqi nation."

If it's true that Maliki now sees himself as the "George Washington" of Iraq, willing to alienate -- or even attack -- those Shiite forces (supported by Iran) that elevated him to power, then Bush's argument (that Iraqi forces supported by US forces will put down the militias) makes sense. It also assumes that Maliki has the confidence that al-Sadr (or his successor) won't wait out the US presence, and rise against a (disloyal) Maliki in a year or two, after the US forces have withdrawn.

If, however, you believe that Maliki's rise is through the 'grace' of al-Sadr and other radical Shiites, then what Bush is asking for is for Maliki to turn on his own 'base' and embrace the cause of a 'greater Iraq.' At a practical matter, this appears to be protecting Sunnis at the expense of Shiites. (The Kurds seem, for all intents and purposes, to have removed themselves from the civil war in the South.)

Asking Maliki to turn on al-Sadr and the Shiites is something like (albeit on a lesser scale) asking Bush himself to turn on Christian evangelicals.

What did Karl Rove always preach about tending to the 'base'?

Romney Video Proves Popular

The Globe is reporting this morning that the Romney 1994 debate video was seen more than 12,000 times yesterday on YouTube. Romney apparently called into a Internet conservative talk show to try and limit the damage:
"I'm grayer, I'm a little heavier, and I hope I've grown a bit wiser as well," Romney said. "Of course, I was wrong on some issues back then. I'm not embarrassed to admit that. I think most of us learn with experience. I know I certainly have."

Ebay Buys StubHub

Reports this morning indicate that Ebay will buy StubHub.com for $310M. At the very least, this sale should give StubHub a larger defense fund for trying to fend off the lawsuit brought against the company (StubHub) just before Thanksgiving by the New England Patriots attempting to stop the resale of Pats' tickets.


The President seemed, upon reflection this morning, extremely ill-at-ease with the first third of the speech, almost as though he was not familiar with the text. Or perhaps it was the anticipation of anticipating the 'admission of a mistake'?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Changing the Subject?

The President's speech was supposed to be justifying (and supporting) the decision to send 20,000 more troops to Iraq. Instead, half-way through:
Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity – and stabilizing the region in the face of the extremist challenge. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.

The debate could quickly shift from whether or not to deploy more troops to the region to how aggressively we are going to confront Syria and/or Iran.

The Battle for Conservatism

Mitt Romney's Presidential efforts suffered through a difficult December. Throughout the month references all over the web (and eventually in the MSM) were made to his "evolution" on conservative touch-stone issues, from gay marriage to abortion. But starting shortly after Christmas, with the Massachusetts' Supreme Judicial Court's opinion in Doyle v. Secretary of the Commonwealth (which Romney had championed), the subsequent vote that advanced the proposed state constitutional amendment on gay marriage, and the announcement this week that he had "raised commitments" of$6.5M for his Presidential campaign, Romney looked like he had turned the page on 2006.

But this morning, a carefully edited video of portions of Romney's 1994 debate against Ted Kennedy was apparently posted on YouTube, and has quickly circulated through the liberal blogs. It's one thing to read Romney's words, it's quite another to see him on screen.

With Bill Frist, Rick Santorum, and George Allen (all seen, once upon a time, as potential conservative standard-bearers) out from the 2008 race, Romney has been fine-tuning his appeal to the GOP 'base.' But it seems that someone is trying to make sure that these 'base' voters are made aware of Romney's not-as-conservative past, including some comments distancing himself from icon Ronald Reagan. The good news for Romney: he's getting people worried. And it's quite early in the process for this type of material (which is probably among the "best" anti-Romney video available) to surface.

Query: which GOP front-runner would have reason to fear a candidate who received the unwaivering support of conservative Republican primary voters?

Monday, January 8, 2007

Backdating, Steve Jobs, and the Presidential Race

So what does Corporate America's option backdating scandal have to do with the 2008 Presidential race? Well, more that you think, potentially.

The backdating scandal has been gathering momentum in business and legal circles since the middle of 2005, when academic research was published that showed that hundreds, if not thousands, of companies have almost surely manipulated option grants over the past few years. (This week BusinessWeek has a profile on one of the professors, Erik Lie.)

The Wall Street Journal has led coverage of the option scandal, beginning with a front page story entitled "The Perfect Payday," on March 18, 2006:

On a summer day in 2002, shares of Affiliated Computer Services Inc. sank to their lowest level in a year. Oddly, that was good news for Chief Executive Jeffrey Rich.

His annual grant of stock options was dated that day, entitling him to buy stock at that price for years. Had they been dated a week later, when the stock was 27% higher, they'd have been far less rewarding. It was the same through much of Mr. Rich's tenure: In a striking pattern, all six of his stock-option grants from 1995 to 2002 were dated just before a rise in the stock price, often at the bottom of a steep drop.

Just lucky? A Wall Street Journal analysis suggests the odds of this happening by chance are extraordinarily remote -- around one in 300 billion. The odds of winning the multistate Powerball lottery with a $1 ticket are one in 146 million.

Companies involved with backdating have forced many executives and/or directors to resign, including (according to the WSJ, sub. req.) Monster Worldwide, United Health, and Comverse Technologies.

Another company implicated in the scandal: Apple Computer. And after an investigation, the company announced just before the end of the year (in connection with a filing at the SEC), that although CEO Steve Jobs was "aware of or recommended" the dates used for backdating (which included, 6,428 grants of options at Apple on 42 different occasions, and in one instance, a grant made on October 19, 2001 directly to Jobs at "special board meeting" that did not actually take place), no company sanctions would be taken against Jobs.

In the press release on December 29, 2006 (in connection with the filings), a special committee said:
The special committee, its independent counsel and forensic accountants have performed an exhaustive investigation of Apple's stock option granting practices...The board of directors is confident that the Company has corrected the problems that led to the restatement, and it has complete confidence in Steve Jobs and the senior management team.

The Special Committee of Apple's board is comprised of two individuals: former Vice President Al Gore and financier Jerry York. (Gore joined the Apple Board in March of 2003.)

The WSJ's story the next day (Dec 30, 2006) said:
David Yermack, a finance professor at New York University who has studied options issues, said he was perplexed about directors' expressions of confidence in Mr. Jobs. "They have pretty much admitted that he was directly involved in a fraud," Mr. Yermack said, pointing to Apple's statement that Mr. Jobs "recommended" the selection of favorable grant dates. "If he had directly participated in altering depreciation schedules, or booking revenue that wasn't yet earned, would they have full confidence in him?"

Investigations are on-going, and nothing definitive has been determined. Apple amended earlier filings relating to the option grants, and took a charge of $84M for the period from 1998 to 2006.

Jobs, meanwhile, is one of the most recognized CEOs in America today. Widely credited as being both a technical and marketing genius, since returning to Apple, has he has helped make Apple both a stock market star among Fortune Magazine's "most admired" companies. On the day of the Special Committee's report, the company's stock moved up about 5%.

However, as one commentator noted in the Boston Globe this morning: "'If Steve Jobs were anything other than what he is, he'd already be gone,' said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at Enderle Group, a high-tech research firm. 'There was a crime committed . . . it looks like Steve Jobs was kind of the ringleader.'"

Gore is not currently a candidate for President, although rumors continue to circulate and he continues to have some support in polls (see earlier post.) In addition Gore apparently sent holiday cards to a number of political activists in New Hampshire, inspiring comment on the Blue Hampshire blog. There is certainly a plausible theory that Gore might "make himself available" next fall as a top-tier candidate who is well-known to the Democratic electorate, as an "alternative" to another well-known, potential -- but so-far undeclared -- candidate.

But SEC (and perhaps Justice Department) investigations -- which would likely be in full swing next fall -- may uncover more damaging information about who knew what, and when. And Apple's own filing stated that Jobs "was aware of or recommended" the backdating. Not unlike Martha Stewart, Jobs could be a trophy for an ambitious prosecutor.

Before all is said and done, we may be hearing a lot more about Al Gore's service on Apple's board. Politicians and SEC investigations are not a good combination for the politicians involved (Just ask former Senator and putative-Presidential candidate Bill Frist.) And political writers may be spending more time than they ever imagined poring over Apple's SEC documents, and the meaning of "backdating of stock options."

(One other "small world" note: Affiliated Computer Systems (mentioned in the original WSJ article) apparently hired an outside law firm last year to conduct a separate investigation into its option-granting practices. The firm was Bracewell & Giuliani LLP. And the "Giuliani" in the firm's name? Right, Rudy Guiliani.)

(Photo of iChat between Steve Jobs and Al Gore. Source: www.w-uh.com/posts/030623_Apple_WWDC.html)

Friday, January 5, 2007

A.I. vs. Philly

Earlier this week the Philadelphia 76ers played their first game against Allen Iverson and his new team, the Denver Nuggets. Although A.I. wasn't awful (30 points on 10-24 shooting, 9 assists and 5 rebounds in 44 minutes), his evening came to a halt with 1:44 when he was ejected. The Nuggets also lost, 108-97.

Before the game, at the morning shootaround, A.I. was critical of the way that his tenure in Philly ended. "When you're losing basketball games, 12 of 14, 18 of 20 basketball games, you should listen to somebody because something obviously isn't working," he said.

Denver had already played its only regular season game in Philly prior to the trade (back in November).

Blind Sided (with Science)

The January 8, 2007 issue of The New Yorker contains a series of book comparisons by Adam Gopnik on recent books about football (including John Feinstein's "Next Man Up", Charles P. Pierce's "Moving the Chains", and Michael Lewis' "The Blind Side") with some earlier football books (including George Plimpton's "Paper Lion", Dan Jenkin's "Semi-Tough", and Roy Blount Jr.'s "About Three Bricks Shy of a Load.")

Gopnik does an credible job of comparing across eras (the earlier books describe a younger, more naive NFL that is, in Gopnik's view "funner.") He also compares the state of football literature to the state of baseball writing, with Bill James and the statistical analysis of hardball being taken as a given.

Gopnik starts his piece with a nice vignette of Joe Namath dodging controversy in the New York Jet press box at a recent game:

Someone asks Namath is he believes that [Jet QB] Chad Pennington is in a slump...Namath is suddenly intent. "No, he's a good quarterback," he says seriously. "I've only watched him this year as a fan, on television. I haven't had a chance to break down the passing game to see if Chad's going to the right spots or going to the wrong receiver." You sense that the distinction the old quarterback is making -- between watching as a fan and actually watching -- is, for him, larger than he can quite explain. It isn't just that he hasn't watched as attentively as he might have; watching "as a fan, on television," means that he hasn't really watched at all...

...[W]hat is really astonishing is to be reminded again of how different this game looks depending on where you see it from, on where you're standing (or sitting) while you watch it. When you watch a pro football game from the Crimean War general's viewpoint of the press box, you can see what's going to happen. On television, the quarterback peers out into the distance within the narrowed frame of the midfield camera and for a moment everything seems possible; the view can't know if there's a wide-open man fifty yards deep or if there is nothing ahead of Pennington but despair - four men crowding two receivers, who aren't even bothering to wave their arms...If you're watching live, Namath's point comes home; on television you see free will instead of a series of forced choices, mostly bad. The quarterback, the gallant general, peering out, in command, becomes, in reality, a stitch in the pattern already woven, his fate nearly sealed before he gets to fiddle with it.

But while Gopnik references Lewis' book, what's interesting is the parallels between Gopnik's analysis of Namath's view of play, and how Lewis analyzes the protection provided by the Left Tackle (playing on the blind side to the right-handed quarterback), in describing a playoff game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Minnesota Vikings in 1988. And what's even more interesting is that Gopnik didn't make (or perhaps acknowledge) the connection:
What happens on this first serious encounter between these two huge men happens so fast it's nearly impossible to comprehend with the naked eye in real time. [Viking Chris] Doleman sprints upfield, probably expecting to collide with [49er Steve] Wallace on his first or second step - but he doesn't. Wallace has taken a new angle. 'I had to make sure that his body was completely by me...wait...wait...Then I hit him.'

He'd met Doleman as deep in the backfield as he possibly could without missing him altogether. They collided, briefly, at the spot Doleman wanted to be making a sharp left to get at [49er Joe] Montana. The hit kept Doleman from turning, and drove him further upfield. Steve Wallace had trade the pleasure of violence for the comfort of real estate.

Nobody notices, of course. His contribution was the opposite of drama. He'd removed the antagonist from the play entirely. What the fans and the television cameras see if 49er wide receiver John Taylor come wide open in the middle of the field. Joe Montana hits with a pass, and Taylor races for a gain of twenty yards.

(Gopnik's piece is not available on line.)

The Reid-Pelosi Letter

Key language: "It is time to bring the war to a close."

The Democratic Congressional leadership are clearly raising stakes; the question is what will happen if Bush calls them on it.

Are they prepared to cut off funding? And how will that play out politically?

Finally, which Democratic Presidential candidate gets asked about the letter first?

A New Day

We saw unique images from new Governor Deval Patrick's swearing-in ceremony yesterday. Instead of the dark, wooden confines of the State House, we saw open skies, balmy temperatures, and overflowing crowds. Politics is not all about image, but it doesn't hurt to have good pictures.

Here's to success for Deval and this team in the 'hard work of governance.'

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Nick Saban to Alabama

Nick Saban's decision to return to the SEC at Alabama reminded me of a great quote from Michael Lewis' recent book, "The Blind Side."

In comparing Saban to Tennessee Head Coach Phil Fulmer (both of whom are recruiting the main character of Lewis' book), the recruit's adoptive mother says:
'The difference between Phil Fulmer and Nick Saban was the difference between dealing with the town mayor and dealing with the White House.'

Watch out Auburn. (And Tennessee)

Important (and Sobering) Post-Christmas Reading

In the pre-holiday rush of parties, presents, and preparations, important articles and news items are sometimes missed (and of course, sometimes meant to be missed.) One such article that I got a chance to read last week was William Langewiesche's "How to Get a Nuclear Bomb" in the December Atlantic.

Although mostly focused on the vulnerabilities of the West to a determined terrorist, the piece also contains a concise summary of where we are in the "Long War":
The danger comes from a direction unforeseen in 1945, that this technology might now pass into the hands of the new stateless guerrillas, the jihadists, who offer none of the targets that have underlain our nuclear peace—no permanent infrastructure, no capital city, no country called home. The nuclear threat posed by the jihadists first surfaced in the chaos of post-Soviet Russia in the 1990s, and took full form after the fall of the World Trade Center. With so little to fear of nuclear retaliation, and having already panicked the United States into historic policy blunders, these are the rare people in a position to act.

(Emphasis added)

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

YouTube's Growth

Much ink has been spilled about YouTube's meteoric rise, and the $1.65B that Goggle paid for the site late last year.

However, BusinessWeek's year-end issue pointed out the speed in mind-focusing fashion: in March, 2005, YouTube had "roughly 50 videos available." Currently more than 100 million are viewed daily on the site.

More on this to come.