Month: October 2004

Handheld photoalbum with face-rec

FujiFilm recently showed off the F-next Image Viewer, a cute prototype hand-held digital photo album that includes a search-by-face function. Select a face in any picture, the device will show you all the other pictures where that face shows up. F-next Image Viewer

(via enGadget, TechJapan and DCWatch, thanks to DC Watch for the picture.)

comments enabled again…

I’ve fixed and re-enabled comments on the blog, after breaking them some time ago in a sleep-depped attempt to stem the flow of comment spam. I don’t get a lot of (non-spam) comments, but I value the ones I do get enough that it’s worth the PITA of filtering.

On a related note, I’ve been thinking about shifting the whole thing over to Bloxom or possibly WordPress. Even with their muchly-improved license (read: it’d still be free for me) MT just isn’t that much of an improvement over the OpenSource stuff that’s out there. As long as I have to upgrade anyway, I may as well get out from under the threat of license-shift…

The Emperor’s Aluminum Clothing

The New York Times’ in-depth look at how the White House (and others) screwed up with the intelligence leading up to the Iraq war is a great read in its entirety, but one paragraph especially stood out for me given my feelings about the first debate:

Also that January, White House officials who were helping to draft what would become Secretary Powell’s speech to the Security Council sent word to the intelligence community that they believed “the nuclear case was weak,” the Senate report said. In an interview, a senior administration official said it was widely understood all along at the White House that the evidence of a nuclear threat was piecemeal and weaker than that for other unconventional arms.

But rather than withdraw the nuclear card – a step that could have undermined United States credibility just as tens of thousands of troops were being airlifted to the region — the White House cast about for new arguments and evidence to support it.

In other words, the White House had already staked its reputation (and, at least in their minds, the reputation of the US as a whole) on a claim that wasn’t nearly as strong as they had implied and was starting to unravel, but they couldn’t admit it. Why do we keep electing presidents who have a pathological inability to admit when they’ve made a mistake?

So now we’re in the embarrassing situation where not only is the Emperor walking around nekid, not only are the children pointing and laughing at him for being nekid, but he continues to strut down the square talking about his cool new threads while muttering about how unpatriotic children are for not backing him up in his story.

Brief thoughts on the 1st debate

Some brief thoughts on the first presidential debate, before the talking heads try to destroy my memory of what I heard and replace it with meaningless fluff about who had better nose hair and who made more points with the key Floridian over-65-black-helicopter-mom vote.

First off, I was very impressed with Kerry. He was decisive, plain-spoken, and specific in his plans and priorities. I was especially impressed by his pragmatic position on Iraq — I figure anyone who still claims Kerry has a shifting or incoherent position on Iraq must either be completely shilling for the other side or be especially dense. Our foreign policy is something of a mess right now, and before this debate I was still thinking of Kerry as a “he can’t mess it up more than the current guy” candidate. I’ve changed my tune now, and at least on foreign-policy issues I’m confident he knows what he’s doing and can put things to right.

I also left the debate with a better opinion about who Bush as a person. The thing that has always confused me about Bush is his tenacious loyalty to an idea, policy or statement even after it’s clear to everyone else in the world that it’s wrong. The venomous theory that it all comes out of Rove-induced “Big Lie” manipulation tactics has never seemed right. Certainly there are party-faithful on both sides capable of such evil, but Bush isn’t an evil man. He’s also not blind or stupid, so the idea that he can’t see any of his administration’s mistakes due to a thick “What, me worry?” fog seems far-fetched as well.

Now I think I get it. As he said in many ways in this debate, Bush believes the most important thing a president or country must do is present to the world a strong, confident stance and an unwavering message. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the experience or skill to avoid backing himself (and us) into a corner. A noble man sticks to his principles, but a skillful noble man knows not to draw a line in the sand until he’s good and ready for whatever may step across.

This may be my own bias, and I listened to the event rather than watch it, but several times during the debate Bush sounded… trapped. Not by Kerry, but by the events of these past three-and-a-half years. I heard in his voice tonight something I heard in the secret audio recordings of Lyndon B. Johnson — the sound of a man who knows he’s out of his depth, but also firmly believes that he needs to keep up a strong face for the good of his country. I sympathize with the man. He’s absolutely right, being President is a hard job, and I know for a fact that I would not be up to the task. But as much as I’m coming to like George W. Bush as a man, I’m all the more convinced we need someone else as President.