Oct 23rd, 2006 by ravi
But for the French (part 2)

More information to supplement my previous post on French support for the American revolution:

The French Contribution to the American War of Independence

From the outbreak of armed rebellion in 1775, many in France sympathized with the colonists. Young, idealistic French officers like the Marquis de Lafayette volunteered their services and in many cases their personal wealth to help equip, train and lead the fledgling Continental army. The French government hoped to redress the balance of power that resulted from the French humiliation in the Seven Years Wars, which gave considerable economic and military advantages to Britain. While maintaining formal neutrality, France assisted in supplying arms, uniforms and other military supplies to the American colonists.

This clandestine assistance became open after the defeat of General Burgoyne at Saratoga in 1777, which demonstrated the possibility of British defeat in the conflict and led to French recognition of the colonies in February 1778. As a result of the victory of the Continental forces at Saratoga, Benjamin Franklin, who had gone to Paris as ambassador in 1776, was able to negotiate a Treaty of Amity and Commerce and a Treaty of Alliance with France. From this point, French support became increasingly significant. The French extended considerable financial support to the Congressional forces. France also supplied vital military arms and supplies, and loaned money to pay for their purchase.

French military aid was also a decisive factor in the American victory. French land and sea forces fought on the side of the American colonists against the British.


From the perspective of the American Revolution, however, the high point of French support is the landing of five battalions of French infantry and artillery in Rhode Island in 1780. In 1781, these French troops under the command of Count Rochambeau marched south to Virginia where they joined Continental forces under Washington and Lafayette. Cornwallis, encamped on the Yorktown peninsula, hoped to be rescued by the British navy. A French fleet under the command of Admiral DeGrasse intercepted and, after a fierce battle lasting several days, defeated the British fleet and forced it to withdraw. This left the French navy to land heavy siege cannon and other supplies and trapped Cornwallis on the Yorktown peninsula.


George Woodbridge summed up the Yorktown campaign in the following words: “The strategy of the campaign was Rochambeau’s; the French fleet was there as a result of his arrangements; the tactics of the battle were his; the American army was present because he had lent money to Washington; in total naval and military participants the French outnumbered the Americans between three and four to one. Yorktown was Rochambeau’s victory.


In the end, these French soldiers became the hard anvil upon which the new American nation was forged and the chains of British imperial domination were finally broken.

[ Link ]

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Oct 23rd, 2006 by ravi
No black in the red, white and blue

There are a bunch of folks I like to think of as Ostrich Republicans (a bit unfair to Ostriches) — a group that includes naive libertarians, subconscious “End of History” believers, individualist types, and typically a combination of these traits (a hypothetical defence of the position: “Yes there were all sorts of bad things like racism, lack of women’s rights, etc. But that’s behind us now and if I do or did not believe in or participate in such things, I should be left alone and the government should get out of it”) — a textbook member is Clint Eastwood, who can strangely reconcile the slumming with bluesmen activities with his homegrown conservatism. What this leads to is the sort of schizophrenia that the following two news pieces bring out. On the one hand, he stands guilty of leaving out (and ignoring when reminded) black participation in WW2, in his new movie:

Guardian | Where have all the black soldiers gone?

Sadly, Sgt McPhatter’s experience is not mirrored in Flags of Our Fathers, Clint Eastwood’s big-budget, Oscar-tipped film of the battle for the Japanese island that opened on Friday in the US. While the film’s battle scenes show scores of young soldiers in combat, none of them are African-American. Yet almost 900 African-American troops took part in the battle of Iwo Jima, including Sgt McPhatter.

The film tells the story of the raising of the stars and stripes over Mount Suribachi at the tip of the island. The moment was captured in a photograph that became a symbol of the US war effort. Eastwood’s film follows the marines in the picture, including the Native American Ira Hayes, as they were removed from combat operations to promote the sale of government war bonds.

Mr McPhatter, who went on to serve in Vietnam and rose to the rank of lieutenant commander in the US navy, even had a part in the raising of the flag. “The man who put the first flag up on Iwo Jima got a piece of pipe from me to put the flag up on,” he says. That, too, is absent from the film.


Yvonne Latty, a New York University professor and author of We Were There: Voices of African-American Veterans (2004), wrote to Eastwood and the film’s producers pleading with them to include the experience of black soldiers. HarperCollins, the book’s publishers, sent the director a copy, but never heard back.

“It would take only a couple of extras and everyone would be happy,” she said. “No one’s asking for them to be the stars of the movies, but at least show that they were there. This is the way a new generation will think about Iwo Jima. Once again it will be that African-American people did not serve, that we were absent. It’s a lie.”

The first chapter to James Bradley’s book Flags of Our Fathers, which forms the basis of the movie, opens with a quotation from president Harry Truman. “The only thing new in the world is the history you don’t know.” It would provide a fitting endnote to Eastwood’s film.

On the other, we have his fellow conservatives unhappy with his historical revisionism and bleeding-heart liberalism:

The Australian: Republican ragging for bleeding heart Clint

MORE than 50 years after he first appeared in Hollywood as a bright young Republican, Clint Eastwood has been attacked by his old allies as a bleeding heart liberal for his latest film, Flags of Our Fathers.

The $US75 million ($100 million) film, which opened in 1800 cinemas in the US at the weekend, focuses not only on the World War II battle of Iwo Jima but also on the fate of a Native American soldier who, Eastwood suggests, was maltreated by the military after the war.

The Australian article ends with a quote from Unforgiven that immediately came to my mind too:

“The best I can do is quote a line from my movie Unforgiven, where one character says, ‘Deserve’s got nothing to do with it’.”

[ Link ]

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Oct 22nd, 2006 by ravi
Billmon on Powell and McCain

Billmon has a great post (Whiskey Bar: Flunking History) at the Whiskey Bar (what better way to spend your Sunday evening!) that covers U.S mixed history of wars and occupations, Powell and McCain’s spin on them, and ends with a timely assessment of Mr. Straight Talk:

Whiskey Bar: Flunking History

That’s one of the reasons why I tend to regard McCain as the most dangerous man in America — even more so than Cheney and Rumsfeld. Not because he isn’t a “straight shooter” (he’s certainly devious enough about advancing his personal political ambitions) but because when it comes to the cult of self-righteous American power, I think he’s the straightest shooter in the bunch — literally.

Go read the whole thing: [ Link ]

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Oct 21st, 2006 by ravi
Speaking English if not for France?

Saving this for future searches… need to do some fact-checking. Below is part of an essay that lists the large debt owed to France for the success of the American Revolution (now, France was not helping the revolutionaries out for entirely altruistic motives, but then again, in modern political reductionism good deeds have to be justified as serving self-interest anyway!):

Am Rev Essays–Carp


Third, the American Revolution was also a world war. With the American victory at Saratoga in 1778, France entered the war on the American side. The French wanted to avenge its defeat in 1763 at the hands of the British in the Seven Years’ War. It had been secretly supplying the Americans with military supplies since 1775 awaiting an opportunity to side openly with the revolting Americans. By 1780, both Holland and Spain joined the French and Americans. (The Spanish, it is true, were a little hesitant to make war against another colonial power, but the possibility of destroying British trade hegemony was too powerful to resist. The Spanish monarchy would regret its decision in the nineteenth century when its own colonies would revolt citing the American example). With their seafaring fleets, America’s European allies attacked British possessions in the West Indies, Africa, and India, thus spreading the war over the face of the globe.

Historians also stress the importance of the direct assistance that the European allies gave to the Americans in their victory over the British. It is probably not going too far to say that America owes its independence to foreign intervention and aid, especially from France. The French monarchy sent arms, clothing, and ammunition to America; it also sent soldiers and the French Navy. Most importantly, the French kept the United States government solvent by lending it the money to keep the Revolution alive. The magnitude of French support of the American Revolution can be glimpsed at the battle of Yorktown. There, the majority of George Washington’s 15,000 man Continental Army were French soldiers. Washington’s men were clothed by the French, the rifles they used were French, and French gold paid their wages. Nor must we forget that it was the French Navy that trapped Cornwallis’s soldiers at Yorktown by preventing English ships sent from New York from rescuing the British army. Perhaps the final irony of the French monarchy’s assistance to America (and proving once again that no good deed goes unpunished) is that it led to the financial collapse of the French ancien regime. And the bankruptcy of Louis XVI was one of the major causes of the French Revolution.


[ Link ]

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Oct 18th, 2006 by ravi
Bruced and beaten!

Bruce Bartlett writes in the NYT Op-Ed that the right-wing has no need to panic about the upcoming Democratic take-over of Congress:

No Spoils for the Victors – New York Times

With liberals like New York’s Charlie Rangel in line to head important House committees like the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, some investors are starting to worry about tax increases on the rich and business bashing-legislation. Needless to say, Republicans are doing what they can to stoke such fears.

As a Republican, I have a message for those fearful of Democratic control: don’t worry. Nothing dreadful is going to happen. Liberals have much less to gain than they believe.

Business-bashing legislation? I wonder what that would look like? The “Exxon is Mean Act of 2007”? Bruce has more goodies to offer in his analysis:

In 1994, after Republicans took control of Congress, my fellow conservatives and I met to plan a legislative agenda. My colleagues were ecstatic. In one fell swoop we were going to do all the things that Democratic control of Congress had effectively blocked since 1954 […]

I didn’t make myself very popular by reminding people that Bill Clinton was still going to be president for at least another two years. How were we going to get these measures enacted into law over his all-but-certain veto? […]

Within a year, the conservative revolution was all but over. When Republicans forced a showdown with Mr. Clinton over the budget, they ended up blinking. […]

My Democratic friends no doubt feel the way we Republicans did in those heady days of 1994 before political reality came knocking. Many probably think they will finally get the truth about what the White House knew about Iraq before the invasion. They may think they can use the power of the purse to force a withdrawal. Some may even imagine that articles of impeachment can be brought against President Bush, while others plan to enact national health insurance and other pet liberal schemes.

To all this I say: Ain’t gonna happen. For starters, President Bush will still occupy the White House for the next two years. And although his veto pen may have been misplaced for most of the last six years, he found it again this summer.


Good try Bruce, but perhaps you overlooked this:

Clinton was a popular president at that time and the public perception (correctly) was in his favour during the budget face-off (in contrast, when it came to such things as “Immigration Reform”, “Welfare Reform” Clinton got by only by co-opting the right-wing agenda).

On the other hand, Bush is one of the most unpopular presidents, coming in at or below 40% for most of this year. His own actions contributed greatly to the impending GOP losses. Moreover, the public is solidly behind many of the projects listed (getting to the bottom of Bush lies, withdrawal from Iraq) and again is rejecting the GOP for these very reasons.

Bruce is probably correct about Bush employing the veto, which I predict will further lower his popularity and expose him to lame duck punishment by his own party.

Oh, and regarding Bruce’s assumption that investors may worry about a Democratic win, the situation seems quite the opposite as indices have quite nicely tracked (positively) Democratic likelihood of winning the house.

[ Link ]

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Oct 16th, 2006 by ravi
Pay to play

You cannot make this shit up:

BBC | China’s full-time computer gamers

China is exploiting a new industry – and it exists in the shadowy world of fantasy monsters and virtual treasure.

This is the online computer game economy where people assume characters and play to win virtual ‘gold’ which they can then spend in their game.

But to build up this credit can take hours, or even days – so around the world, some gamers are paying others to do the hard work for them.

[ Link ]

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Oct 15th, 2006 by ravi
The sheltered life…

A quote from the NYT:

Rape Accusation Has Ruined Lives, Students Say


Mr. Evans, the team captain, told “60 Minutes” that he regretted his decision to give a party with alcohol and hire strippers.

“I was naïve, I was young, I was sheltered,” he said. […]

[ Link ]

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Oct 14th, 2006 by ravi
Blog slog! Rating the beasts!

A most unscientific blog comparison!

HuffPo dKos C&L TProg Malkin PwrLine
Leans Left Left Left Left Right Right
Rank 5 6 10 12 13 40
Size (KB) 314 130 702 126 130 304
Time (56Kbps) 68.61 26.87 141.30 25.24 26.06 61.14
Time (T1) 2.41 1.49 5.12 0.87 0.69 2.21
W3C XHTML 51 210 180 0 102 606
W3C HTML 31 95 125 49 140
Broken Links 2 0 3 0 0 0
Speling 2 3 4 3 5 4
Truwex 17 14 24 17 22 25
ATRC 12 (623) 8 (384) 33 (809) 4 (406) 26 (556) 53 (377)
UIUC FAE 144 200 199 14 226 324
WebXACT 159 93 346 74 310 191
Width (px) 1000 760 900 750 850 700
Design B A- C A+ A- A-
Headings A A- A- A B A
Contents A A B- B- B A
Feed Link B B B A A- B
Real Estate B A C A A- B
Sidebar C B B A A A-
SeoMoz 2 7.5 8.5 8.5 9 9
MS AdCenter male

And the winner is: Think Progress! ;-)

With some props to Kos and Malkin. My own favourite site, C&L, seems to have fared the worst!

The All Important Notes

The other day, I decided to see how compliant my blog is, and found this useful site: UITest. It collects a bunch of tests together in one page. Well I fared quite poorly (see below). If I am going down, I am bloody well taking the rest of you down with me! And so, I decided to test out some of the popular blogs. Please do not take this as a serious evaluation! It is highly unscientific and utterly silly

There are things I would have liked to measure, such as how blog reader friendly a blog is, but that would require actual effort!

Test environment: Firefox 1.5, screen 1024×768, 12pt Helvetica (default font)

The Blogs and Ranks

  • HuffPo = The Huffington Post
  • dKos = Daily Kos
  • C&L = Crooks and Liars
  • TProg = Think Progress
  • Malkin = Michelle Malkin
  • PwrLine = PowerLine

The rank is based on Technorati ranking of blogs as of Oct 10,
2006 or thereabouts. The URLs used for testing where the ones
listed in the Technorati listing. Some of these blogs/bloggers
have more than one blog (HuffPo, Malkin), in which case I
chose the higher ranked one. Also, I wanted a partisan blog
shootout and had to make judgement calls: I did not include
InstaPundit and Little Green Footballs. You may disagree!

Times are in seconds.


  • W3C XHTML is XHTML 1.0 Transitional
  • W3C HTML is HTML 4.01 Transitional
  • If a site passed XHTML 1.0 no need to test HTML 4.01
  • Truwex is a report of a range of issues
  • Spelling was filtered for names, nicknames, acronyms, popular word corruptions, etc.
  • Special kudos to C&L for getting the spelling of dialogue right, and Michelle Malkin for getting neighbour right!


  • Frankly, I do not know a lot about these guidelines and tests.
  • The ATRC test reports known, likely and potential problems: I have listed the known and included the total in brackets.
  • The UIUC FAE test lists 5 main categories and provides % of failures for each: I have crudely added all the %s together.
  • WebXACT results are broken down by 3 priorities and lists errors and warnings: I have added up the error incidents.


  • One thing I hate more than all else is the single-window assumption: anything larger than 750-800 pixels should be banished back to the times before windowing and multi-tasking!
  • Design… well, that's really subjective isn't it? Along with aesthetics, I look for consistency of UI, use of colour, contrast, spacing, use of markup, and so on. Malkin for example uses "***" as markup… surely better options are available? Malkin and ThinkProgress (and to a lesser extent PowerLine) have an uncluttered and well-structured interface.
  • Many folks read blogs through a blog reader that may list only post headings: are these clear enough to tell me what the post is about?
  • And what about the post contents? Don't you hate cryptic one-liners which serve as a link to an external page with the real info? ThinkProgress, C&L, and Malkin (to a lesser extent) seem to enjoy this sport.
  • What's a blog without a feed? How clear and prominent is/are the feed link(s)? If your feed link says "XML" you get a negative point! If it uses the new standardised feed icon, you get a positive.
  • How cluttered and crazy is the sidebar? Are tags or categories offered for readers to focus on their area of interest?
  • To give you an idea of spelling errors I found:
    Kos: whever, TProg: prescise, Malkin: afor.

A look at the Glass House

How did Plato's Beard fare?

  • Spell: 0 errors! How would I know?
  • Seomoz page strength: cannot even fetch the page
  • MS Adcenter says: neutral (0.5) under 18 years (24.17%)
  • Truwex Page check: 22 issues
  • Size/speed: 201kB, 40.17s (56K), 1.26s (T1)
  • ATRC: 14 known, 0 likely, 286 potential
  • UIUC: 201
  • W3C: XHTML 1.0 Trans: 84 errors, HTML 4.01 Trans: 53 errors
  • Width: 700px
  • Headings: B
  • Feed Link(s): A
  • Content(s): zero ;-)
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Oct 13th, 2006 by bookie
Links and News [2006.10.13]


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Oct 11th, 2006 by ravi
From Gandhi to Geisha

Forget non-alignment and socialism! It’s East India Co Shining baby!

Guardian | America’s dirty secret: India becomes the gasoline gusher

Sitting on the edge of the water in the Gulf of Kutch on India’s western shore is one of America’s dirty secrets. A mass of steel pipes and concrete boxes stretches across 13 square miles (33sq km) – a third of the area of Manhattan – which will eventually become the world’s largest petrochemical refinery.

The products from the Jamnagar complex are for foreign consumption. When complete, the facility will be able to refine 1.24m barrels of crude a day. Two-fifths of this gasoline will be sent 9,000 miles (15,000km) by sea to America.


[ Link ]

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