18 July 2006

This Week on the Web

Though still unsure as to the exact form this feature will take, we offer here some of our favorite articles and features from the last week or so on the web. Eventually we hope it will break into different topics/posts addressing each one of the subtitular interests identified.

Travel Guide - Don't Leave Home Without It
(Hat tip: Matt Lybbert)
Ever wonder what goes into writing those travel guides you use as you backpack across Europe? Our trip to Costa Rica made us wonder if the guides were truly researched or simply glorified ads with space given to the hotels, restaurants and excursions that paid the most to the guide writers. This article in the NYT answers those questions and provides a very interesting read. Note also the link to the blog authored by a prominent travel guide writer/editor called "Killing Batteries."

Malcolm Gladwell and Ron Popeil
Author of "Blink" and "The Tipping Point" writes about a man Dennis Miller calls the "king BSer emeritus."

"I'll Take Alta And Give You The Bird"
This article discusses upcoming plans to expand Snowbird in Utah's Little Cottonwood Canyon. Also, Alta recently released their season pass prices (hat tip: Matt Lybbert) for the upcoming season.

Man vs. Rainier
Great article about a guy who recently trained for and climbed Mt. Rainier. Mt. Rainier is a great mountain not just because it is in Washington State, but also because its many routes make it a good climb for climbers of different skill levels. Our favorite view of Rainier is from Safeco Field, home of the Mariners, on a clear day.

Personality Profiling
We're told that Boston Celtics GM/President Danny Ainge uses this process to evaluate personnel decisions. Specifically, because Antoine Walker's personlity profile didn't match up, he was traded. We wonder what changed to cause Ainge to bring him back.

Pando
Frustrated by the attachment limits of your email service? Pando (hat tip: Matt Lybbert) allows you to send and receive files of any size, though as it is still in Beta stages, there is a limit of 1 gig. For a review of Pando, read from our favorite, the Wall Street Journal's own, Walt Mossberg (subscription required).

Skype
Right up there with low-rise jeans for girls, this internet invention should be an internet revolution. Features allow you to do more than just place computer to computer calls--and all for around $0.02 per minute. Now you can call cell and land-lines and receive calls from the same. Voicemail means that international travelers don't need to worry about the hassle of cell phones overseas--especially if you are unfortunate enough to be a Verizon customer.

Madden 07
It's our favorite game and the latest iteration will be released in the next month. Featured on the cover of the game is Seattle Seahawk's record breaking RB, Shaun Alexander. Don't worry about the Madden Curse, this guy doesn't believe in superstition. Which is why the New York Times has called him: Shaun Alexander - 'Cerebral Gamer/Player'.

Best Roster Ever!
(includes lots of Seahawks of course)
We were first tipped off to this by Mike Sando, Seahawks blogger for the Tacoma News-Tribune. We forgot about it and then our friend and sometime contributor to this blog, Morgan Habedank, sent us another link. It's especially appealing to die-hard fans who are convinced that the GM of their beloved team is a complete idiot--like the Seattle Sonics' Wally Walker (admittedly not an NFL GM).

13 July 2006

The Real 007

This morning we attended a lecture given by Sir Richard Dearlove, current Master of Pembroke College, Cambridge and former head of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). His lecture was free flowing and anecdotal, but several interesting points stood out.

On the intelligence community in general, he said that "it [intelligence services] change to fit the enemy." He applied this specifically to the British and American experience with KGB infiltration during the Cold War. They feared that double agents would gain access to high level information and convey it to their operators in Moscow. He further explained that this fear caused the SIS and the CIA to compartmentalize themselves. That is to say, they established "need to know" protocol that kept secrets separate. In this way, the body (our metaphor, not his) did not consist of legs, arms, hands, and feet with a single head, but that they often operated independently and without access to information held by the other departments.

He believes that it was this "compartmentalization" that stopped the SIS and CIA from discovering 9/11 before it happened. We wonder if he would also blame the same cause for their (the CIA and SIS) collective failure to predict the fall of the Soviet Union, the rise of radical islamic terrorism, or the post-war insurgency.

Regarding the war in Iraq, he failed to understand why the public and media were so intent on casting the blame on the governments and intelligence services of Britain and the US. He argued, quite persuasively, that the Iraqi regime had every opportunity to avoid conflict and yet did nothing. Thus, in his view, the bulk of the blame for the Iraqi war lay with Saddam and Co.

When asked about intelligence leading up to the war in Iraq and the failure to find WMD (at least until a couple of weeks ago, subscription required) he referred to the findings of the Iraqi Survey Group, commonly known as the Duelfer Report. Though they failed to find WMD, the report contains evidence of an expansive WMD program. Furthermore, Mr. Dearlove pointed out that Iraq is a large country and he also noted its proximity to Syria and the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. Sattelite photos showed abnormal amounts of traffic out of Iraq and into these regions in the days leading up to the invasion of Iraq. Mr. Dearlove believes this increased traffic was WMD in transport.

He insists that debate about pre-war intelligence is still open, despite the desire of politicians to end it. Mr. Dearlove seems to agree with the opinion of Senators Hoekstra and Santorum (cited above) that one of the reasons we don't know about the true findings of the ISG and other reports which show evidence of WMD is because it does not fit what he calls the "orthodoxy of the press." In other words, it doesn't fit the 'approved theme' of mainstream media that "bush lied, people died."

On one point, Mr. Dearlove affirmed, "there can be no equivocation." The intelligence was not a lie. "In fact," he said, "every member of the Iraqi regime believed that they had WMD." His statements would seem to agree with our series on pre-war intelligence (Part I, II, III, IV, V, Conclusion) and like us, disagree with Joe Wilson's assertion that the Bush administration pressured the CIA to produce intel that fit their agenda. In what seemed like a desire to exculpate the CIA and SIS, he suggested that there was "no failing in the intelligence, just a failure in how it was used." Of course, that's a policy decision best left to elected officials.

06 July 2006

lybberty.com

Friends of On Life and Lybberty (OL&L), your lives have recently been made much easier. Thanks to the efforts of our good friend Fernando Mladineo, you can now reach this blog by simply typing lybberty.com into your web browser.

This development eliminates the ponderous, Blogger imposed address and will hopefully make it easier to grow our readership.

Now, when you tell your friends about your favorite blog, you wont have to remember/repeat onlifeandlybberty.blogspot.com.

Just tell them to check out lybberty.com.

03 July 2006

Cambridge and the DB13 Review

Apologies to you, dear reader and especially Morgan Habedank, once again, for the long delay between posts. Picking up and moving to Cambridge for a summer of study kept us from from making our regular posts--to say nothing of the jet-lag.

For your reading pleasure, another review by our well-reviewed guest contributor, Mr. Habedank.

District B-13 Review

The public has spoken regarding Cars. After a solid opening weekend at the box office, attendance fell by 44% even though release was expanded to three additional theaters. A drop of over 40% has historically indicated that a film does not have “legs.” It appears that Cars will ultimately gross roughly the same as the much less heralded and hyped Over the Hedge which was released by DreamWorks Animation a few weeks prior to Cars. This is especially troubling for Pixar due to the huge marketing spend in comparison to that of DreamWorks. Hopefully it will exceed expectations on DVD to make up for not meeting box office expectations.

Last weekend I ventured to the Arc Light in Hollywood to watch District B-13. As a side note, while walking to the theater after purchasing my Cherry Coke I bumped into Bill Maher who was quite affable. We exchanged pleasantries and continued to our respective shows. Now back to the topic at hand.

District B-13 was recommended to me by two of my friends. Their recommendation can best be summed up with the following quote: “Dude, it is the best action movie I have seen in years!” Usually when I hear things like this I dismiss them with out much thought and carry on with my life. Especially when such statements are related to French indie films (District B-13 is distributed by Magnolia). However, both friends were so animated I decided to give it a chance. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed. District B-13 was hands down the best action movie I have seen in years. It may even be the best movie I have seen this year. The action sequences were phenomenal. The stunts were actually performed by the actors themselves who were cast largely for their proficiency in the underground sport of “parkour.” The action sequences coupled with a pounding original techno score and masterful editing combined to keep me literally on the edge of my seat from start to finish.

What truly made this film excellent in my opinion though was the writing. The script was simple and straight forward. There were no holes and no ridiculous “metaphors” were used to bludgeon the viewer with the writer/director’s political opinions. District B-13 is the anti- V for Vendetta. The most refreshing part of the script was the treatment of the two “heroes.” Breaking from the traditional Hollywood anti-hero who is tragically flawed in some way, the heroes were actual heroes who did what they did for the sole reason of wanting to better the world for those around them. Leito fights the drug dealers because he wishes to help his neighbors. Nothing more and nothing less. Damien is a police officer for the sole reason of believing in the law and the ideal that the law espouses. Leito and Damien truly are heroes worthy of the title.

District B-13 is only in limited release. Catch it at your local Cineplex or art-house theatre if you can. Catch it on Netflix in a few months if you must. Either way, you will not be disappointed. District B-13 will capture you both visually and emotionally and leave you breathless and ready to save the world.

PS. Stay for the credits even though they are in French. The song they play is awesome

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