Google Street View has come to Knoxville.
For instance, here’s the place I just came back from — the Knoxville Visitor
Center on Gay Street, where the WDVX Blue Plate Special takes place
And here’s a look at the Gay Street Bridge, seen from across the river in South Knoxville, with several downtown buildings, the Sunsphere, and the Henley Street Bridge in the distance:
(Hat tip: Michael Silence.) More after the jump.
As I mentioned earlier, a severe thunderstorm pounded North Knoxville this afternoon. I had a bird’s eye view of the storm from the parking garage downtown where I park for work, and I was able to capture several still frames of cloud-to-ground lightning from the videos I took with my digital camera. Here’s the best one:
Here’s what the storm looked like on radar at that very moment:
UPDATE: One of my lightning videos is now on Flickr as well. You can see several lightning strikes, including the one pictured above.
P.S. The thunderstorm gave way to a beautiful sunset several hours later. Here are a couple photos of that:
Tried to watch the Shuttle & ISS fly overhead, but the sky was too bright and hazy (even the Moon is somewhat dimmed by wispy clouds, so the spacecrafts didn’t stand a chance). Anyone have better luck elsewhere?
Don’t you love it when Glenn Reynolds gets a little pervy with his photography? I sure do! But what does Dr. Helen think? ;)
(I kid, Glenn, I kid!)
Kimberly Kagan, president of the Institute for the Study of War, and Frederick Kagan, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, claim in the WSJ:
America is very close to succeeding in Iraq. The "near-strategic
defeat" of al Qaeda in Iraq described by CIA Director Michael Hayden
last month in the Washington Post has been followed by the victory of
the Iraqi government’s security forces over illegal Shiite militias,
including Iranian-backed Special Groups. The enemies of Iraq and
America now cling desperately to their last bastions, while the
political process builds momentum.
These tremendous gains remain fragile and could be lost to skillful
enemy action, or errors in Baghdad or Washington. But where the U.S.
was unequivocally losing in Iraq at the end of 2006, we are just as
unequivocally winning today.
(Hat tip: Youngblai.) I have no idea whether the Kagans are correct, but in general, the problem with claims like theirs is one of credibility: back in 2006, most folks on the Right did not contemporaneously admit that we were "unequivocally losing in Iraq," so it’s hard to know how much credence to lend to their claims now. (Honest query: I’d be curious if somebody can find an example of the Kagans bucking this trend back in ‘06, and forthrightly admitting then that we were losing. Maybe they did; I have no idea. But many conservatives — and administration officials — didn’t.)
Listening to a hawkish conservative who always claimed we were winning say, "we were losing then, but we’re winning now," is sort of like listening to a far-left liberal who opposed the war in Afghanistan say, "we should have stayed out of Iraq and focused on Afghanistan." Maybe they’re right, but they have no credibility saying it!
Actually, though, the former example is arguably worse than the latter one, because whereas a lefty who rallies ’round a war he opposed is making a self-contradicting statement of opinion, a hawk who rewrites the war’s history is making a self-contradicting statement of fact. And, as the saying goes, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but nobody’s entitled to their own facts.
That’s what makes this Iraq debate so frustrating for someone like me — someone who is by no means an expert on what’s happening in Iraq, but who wants to support the right course of action based on sound
reasoning and properly understood facts. Both sides are so committed to their ideological preconceptions that it’s seemingly impossible for them to agree on what the facts are. The Left will claim we’re losing, or are inevitably bound to lose, and must therefore get out, whether that’s factually true or not; and the Right will claim that we’re winning, and can succeed if only we keep at it for a little longer, and must therefore stay the course, whether that’s factually true or not.
For many on both sides, I think, it’s past the point of being dishonest: they’re so committed to their argument that they convince themselves to honestly believe their version of reality. One of the reasons I’m undecided between Obama and McCain is because I feel like I’m choosing between these two camps, both of which have ideological blinders on, which is not exactly an appealing choice — and meanwhile, I don’t have the requisite information to decide whose preconceptions are closer to the truth, largely because I don’t trust either side to present that information accurately! Nor do I trust the liberal media, or the conservative media, or the right-blogosphere, or the left-blogosphere. On this issue, it seems like everybody has an agenda.
What are the actual facts? Are we winning or losing? Is there a reasonable hope of genuine success in building a reasonably stable and at least somewhat democratic Iraq, or are we just wasting our time on a quixotic and unsustainable effort to do so, and suffering needless losses in the process? If we leave, will things get better or worse — and if worse, how much worse? The "facts on the ground" that would help answer these questions are absolutely essential pieces of information for any rational decision-maker, yet they get lost in the fog of war — and, perhaps more pertinently, of politics. Argh.
Okay, that’s a vast oversimplification, but even so, this seems fairly obvious: “There’s a strong relationship between rating your marriage as happy and frequency of intercourse.” You don’t say!
And/but: “We don’t know whether people who are happy in their marriage have sex more, or whether people who have sex more become happy in their marriages, or a combination of those two.” My money’s on Choice #3.
(Hat tip: InstaPundit.)
Assuming the Space Shuttle Discovery undocks as scheduled from the International Space Station at 7:33 AM EDT tomorrow (i.e., Wednesday) morning, there will be an opportunity tomorrow night for folks in parts of the southeastern U.S. to see the Shuttle and ISS flying overhead side-by-side.
Here in Knoxville, the 9:04 PM EDT flyover is just 11 minutes after sunset, so I’m not sure how visible the spacecrafts — particularly the dimmer Shuttle — will be. Certainly, there won’t be much to see if you’re west of Knoxville; the sky will be too bright. But the further east you go, the darker the sky will be at the requisite time. Thus, both the Shuttle and ISS should be easily visible in places that are east of Knoxville and reasonably close to the black line below:
Along the Carolina and Georgia coasts, all across the Florida peninsula, and in the Bahamas, the view should be stunning, weather permitting. As I’ve said before: "Trust me: even if you’re not into dorky stuff like Iridium flares, this is well worth a trip outside at the proper time, if the sky is clear." The sight of "two distinct, bright dots, moving briskly across the evening sky in
tandem — two unmistakable beacons of the human presence in space" is "a really neat thing to see."
You can use Heavens-Above to check the specific viewing conditions for your location. If you’re in the U.S., just click here and enter the name of your city or town, then select it from the resulting list of locales. On the screen that follows, click on "10 day predictions for: ISS" and look for an evening flyover on June 11 (or for that matter, June 12 or 13). If you’re outside the U.S., select your country here and then follow the same steps.
It’s a shame the flyover is so close to sunset here in Knoxville, because from this location, the spacecrafts’ path takes them right past Mars, Saturn and the Moon:
Back in the long-ago dark ages of late 2007, when it appeared that Hillary Clinton was the inevitable Democratic nominee, there was much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth over the notion that the 2008 election — and a potential Clinton Administration — was going to turn into a re-hash of the 1990s.
Now, with Barack Obama the nominee, it appears we’re going to re-hash the 1970s instead:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Senator Obama says that IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m running for BushÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s third term," McCain
said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Seems to me
heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s running for Jimmy CarterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s second.Ã¢â‚¬Â
TPM’s Greg Sargent says we can "expect more evocations of Carter. Lots more." Politico’s Jonathan Martin seems to agree, writing that Carter is one of the few "convenient and resonant Democratic bogeymen" available.
P.S. On an unrelated note, John McCain wants to veto beer!
Thinking about yesterday’s debut of the 3G iPhone, it occurred to me that Steve Jobs is a freakin’ genius. Not even a year ago, Apple released the original iPhone with a price tag of $599 for the 8 GB model. Barely two months later, the price was slashed to $399. Now, Apple has unveiled a new & improved iPhone — with a price tag of $199 for the 8 GB model. That’s half the most recent price (as Apple’s ads are happily trumpeting), and one-third of the original price.
Why does that make Jobs a genius, you ask? Think about it: if the price had been $199 all along ($299 for the higher-end model), would anybody have considered that cheap? Reasonable, certainly; surprisingly low for such a cool phone, probably. But people wouldn’t have been falling all over themselves saying, "WOW! What an amazingly great price!" to anywhere near the extent they’re doing now. By jacking up the cost in the first place, Apple made its eventual price point seem incredible, rather than merely good. Heh. Steve Jobs has us eating out of his freakin’ hands.
Speaking of Steve Jobs and eating, there is rampant talk on the Internets — even unto Drudge! — about Jobs’s physical appearance at yesterday’s WWDC keynote. Some have described Jobs as looking "sickly skinny" or even "dangerously thin." As one blog notes, many concerned Apple fans are "wondering if the pancreatic cancer has come back. Steve was diagnosed back in 2003 but that info was not released to the public until 2004 when he had surgery."
As I learned yesterday when I saw Drudge’s headline and tried Googling around to figure out what he was talking about, this is not the first time a Jobs keynote has caused frenzied Internet speculation about his health. A similar phenomenon occurred in 2006, to the point where Apple had to release a statement assuring everyone that Jobs was a-okay.
Since the CEO’s health seems to be of such concern to his adoring minions, perhaps somebody could use the new iPhone Software Development Kit to create an application that monitors and broadcasts his vital signs in real time. ;)
P.S. Meanwhile, at least one blogger is wondering whether Steve Jobs is Gimli.
Last week, I confessed that, although the rational side of my brain is undecided between Barack Obama and John McCain, the “portion of my brain that views politics as a sport can’t help ‘rooting’ for Obama” because he is “the scrappy mid-major going up against the staid, boring, established program; he’s Boise State against Oklahoma (’They said this day would never come: a WAC team in a BCS bowl! Yes, we can!’), he’s Appalachian State against Michigan… or, as McCain might prefer to say, he’s Hawaii against Georgia.”
Now, Ben Smith uses a college-football metaphor, saying that Obama’s 50-state, expand-the-map strategy is the political equivalent of the “spread offense.”
If so, Obama’s definitely going to win Michigan. :)
Crispin Sartwell, a self-described anarchist and a professor of philosophy at a small liberal-arts college in Pennsylvania, speaks the truth about academia:
Within the academy, conservatives really are an oppressed minority. At the University of Colorado, for instance, one professor found that, of 800 or so on the faculty, only 32 are registered Republicans. This strikes me as high, and I assume they all teach business or physical education. … [B]ecause there’s a consensus, there is precious little self-examination; a slant that we all share becomes invisible.
Academic consensus is a particularly irritating variety of groupthink. First of all, the fact that everyone agrees and everyone has a doctorate leads to the occasionally explicit idea that all intelligent people think the same thing Ã¢â‚¬â€ that no one could disagree with, say, Obama-ism, without being an idiot.
That the American professoriate is near-unanimous for Barack Obama is a problem on many levels, but certainly pedagogically. Ideological uniformity does a disservice to students and makes a mockery of the pious commitment of these professors simply to convey knowledge. Professors are as herd-like in their opinions as other groups that demographers like to identify Ã¢â‚¬â€ "working-class white men," for example. Indeed, surely more so. …
That this smog of consensus is incompatible with the supposedly high-minded educational mission of colleges and universities is obvious. But academics are massively self-deceived about this, which makes it all the more disgusting and effective.
(Hat tip: my dad.)
Having shocked y’all Friday morning by announcing that I’m retiring the blog on July 20, I figure Monday morning is a good time for yet another shocker. Would a three-page manifesto to Irish Trojan favorite son Joe Lieberman, lambasting him for dishonest and unworthy campaign rhetoric, do the trick?
I sent the letter Friday afternoon to Joe’s D.C. office, and now I’m reprinting it on the blog. I don’t mean to grandstand about this, but having been so vocal in defense of Lieberman, I figure I owe y’all an update on where I stand now. (In point of fact, my sentiments shouldn’t be too shocking; I alluded to my growing disillusionment with Lieberman last month.)
It’s important to emphasize that I have no problem whatsoever with Lieberman endorsing McCain and arguing against Obama’s candidacy; it’s the way he’s been opposing Obama that bothers me, not the mere fact that he’s doing so at all. I object to such things as his role in spreading the Obama’s-a-Marxist and Hamas-loves-Obama memes, his implication that Democrats are not "pro-American," and several other specific statements he’s made recently. Anyway, here’s the money quote:
What happened to your 2006 message, promising a less hyper-partisan brand of politics? Based on your recent statements, it appears you have completely abandoned the premise that Democrats and Republicans have honest disagreements on the issues. Instead of substantively engaging important topics of legitimate debate and disagreement, you have repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to vilify and caricature the Democratic Party …
I am deeply disappointed that you have sunk to these lows, and having been such a vocal advocate on your behalf, I must admit that I am somewhat embarrassed. It is becoming more and more difficult to defend you against your critics in the blogosphere, who increasingly feel that they were Ã¢â‚¬Å“right all alongÃ¢â‚¬Â about you.
On reflection, "completely abandoned the premise" is probably a bit much. But it gets the message across, anyway. Joe needs to tone down his rhetoric, or folks like me who once greatly admired him will increasingly come to view him as just another typical politician.
Read the whole thing after the jump.
Still under $4 here in Knoxville! Of course, it's pretty sad that $3.79 on regular unleaded is now considered a *good* price…