Links and thoughts of the day (2009-12-05)

War: C.I.A. to Expand Use of Drones in Pakistan (New York Times): The White House is expanding the program, paralleling the decision to send more troops to Afghanistan.
One of Washington’s worst-kept secrets, the drone program is quietly hailed by counterterrorism officials as a resounding success, eliminating key terrorists and throwing their operations into disarray. But despite close cooperation from Pakistani intelligence, the program has generated public anger in Pakistan, and some counterinsurgency experts wonder whether it does more harm than good.

US Politics: How Obama Came To Plan for 'Surge' in Afghanistan (New York Times). I think there was no good choices in this matter. I hope France will be up to the demands of the US President but I would not bet much on success. It's a bad situation, and I think Obama was compelled somehow to this surge.

Sarcasm: The results of Slate's "write like Sarah Palin" contest (Slate): The Winner (Mrs. Ann Sensenbrenner):
"One night after a long day of campaigning, when the haters had made my spirits reach a nadir, I looked into Todd's eyes, which were as blue as the stripes on Old Glory, and too representing truth and loyalty, and he looked back at me with a twinkle of determination which I hadn't seen since I told him my goal of having another baby in my fifties and naming it Tron, then did I know for sure that I could carry on, like he, and we, have done together all of these years on this long, Iron Dog race of a marriage that is at once grueling and celestial, onerous and majestic."

And I like this a lot by Mrs. Kaylyn Munro (Runner-up):
"The minute I was on that stage in Florida with all those lights in my eyes and the smell of Alaska still on my fingertips and my family, too, all around out there, I was where I dreamed of all those years on the basketball court and in Alaskas's God given beauty which we must cherish and use as God gave it us to use and in honor of the troops, also."

Sport: Football, dogfighting, and brain damage (The New Yorker): Malcolm Gladwell writes about American Football, dogfighting and brain trauma, comparing football players to pitbulls, a horrific and very interesting story by M. Gladwell.

Aviation nerdery: An Air France Airbus A330-200, registration F-GZCK performing flight AF-445 from Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) to Paris Charles de Gaulle (France) with 203 passengers and 12 crew, was enroute at FL380 overhead the Atlantic when the crew called Mayday on the international emergency frequency indicating they encountered severe turbulence and were descending to a lower altitude. In fact the crew initiated oceanic contingency procedures to descend without ATC clearance, because there were out or radar range, they just declared the emergency descent and follow their route to land safely in Paris. However we can't refrain from thinking to Air France 447 which disappeared on this same point last June.

App: I tried Ommwriter, simple text processor, for Mac — the Beta version is free — on the advice of Jason Kottke. Not bad, clean and minimalist, a bit strange but customizable.

Work: How I Hire Programmers (Aaron Swartz's Raw Thought): some advices for hiring people (and not only programmers).

The Living World: Whales are the biggest species in nature, but they can't be bigger than they are, for a simple and practical reason. Read that in The Origin of Big by M. Carl Zimmer in Discover.

Houston: It snowed in Houston yesterday, a highly unusual weather even in winter. Min. temp. 39°F/3°C! I was lucky to be there last week with the sunny and warm weather.

Soccer: France had a lucky draw at the FIFA World Cup, it's in the same group as Mexico, South Africa and Uruguay, three beatable teams, though if our side plays like in the last match against Ireland...

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