This is Baghdad. What Could be Worse?

UW-Madison Grad Anthony Shadid:

It had been almost a year since I was in the Iraqi capital, where I worked as a reporter in the days of Saddam Hussein, the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, and the occupation, guerrilla war and religious resurgence that followed. On my return, it was difficult to grasp how atomized and violent the 1,250-year-old city has become. Even on the worst days, I had always found Baghdad’s most redeeming quality to be its resilience, a tenacious refusal among people I met over three years to surrender to the chaos unleashed when the Americans arrived. That resilience is gone, overwhelmed by civil war, anarchy or whatever term could possibly fit. Baghdad now is convulsed by hatred, paralyzed by suspicion; fear has forced many to leave. Carnage its rhythm and despair its mantra, the capital, it seems, no longer embraces life.

“A city of ghosts,” a friend told me, her tone almost funereal.

NCAA: Rein in Sports Spending

Howard Fendrich:

In a task-force report released Monday by NCAA president Myles Brand, Division I schools were encouraged to rein in spending on sports – but there aren’t any requirements everyone must adhere to or punishments if they don’t.

“In the case of academic reform, we had a hammer – namely, by teams not conforming, we could take away scholarships and, if that failed, we could keep them out of the Final Four and postseason. That’s heavy duty. That’s a sledgehammer,” Brand said after speaking at the National Press Club. “The fact is, we don’t have that for fiscal responsibility in intercollegiate athletics.”

The task force of about 50 school presidents and chancellors was formed in January 2005, and the report’s release comes as the NCAA is preparing its response to an Oct. 3 letter from Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Calif., chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. Thomas asked the NCAA to justify its tax-exempt status and sought a reply by the end of October; the NCAA received a two-week extension.

I’ve gone to a variety of sporting events around the country over the past 25 years. It is interesting to observe the explosion in sponsorships, luxury boxes and facilities around college athletics.

KCRW’s Active Internet Audience

Sarah McBride:

KCRW is a leading example of how public radio stations are aggressively pushing high-definition radio, live streaming of programs, podcasting and other technology-driven improvements — and in the process demonstrating the potential the Internet may hold for all radio stations, public or commercial.

Such moves have helped public stations expand their audience at a time when commercial broadcasters are seeing the listener base shrink. But while the initiatives have helped public radio stations expand their reach, the bar for success is also lower. Public stations rely on sponsorship and listener donations and are under less pressure to make money on their audience-growing online initiatives, such as selling ads on their podcasts.

“They have less to lose,” says David Bank, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets. “They’re all about delivering their content to the audience, without worrying about how [new technologies] might displace the audience and the advertiser.” Now, he says, commercial radio is wishing it had moved faster and earlier in this area, although it has a big effort to catch up in the past year or two. Many big radio companies now sell advertising for their streams separately to their broadcast advertising, and start most podcasts with an ad. Industry-wide, online revenue now runs well north of $100 million annually.

KCRW’s music programs are, in my view, the best around and a refreshing change from the usual commercial practice of playing the same old songs over and over and over and over.

More on Yahoo’s Cooperation with the Chinese Government

Tom Foremski:

hi Tao was sentenced to 10 years in prison after “illegally providing state secrets to foreign entities”.

His crime was to have e-mailed details of the Chinese government’s plans to handle news coverage of the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in 2004. Yahoo! provided crucial information in the case, linking the message and e-mail account with Shi ‘s computer. Reporters Without Borders accused Yahoo! of acting as a “police informant”.

John Bogle’s Recent San Francisco Talk

Kathleen Pender:

Bogle believes investors should simply buy the lowest-cost index funds available and hold them forever. His rule of thumb is to take your age minus 10 and hold that percentage of your assets in a total bond market index fund and the rest in a total stock market index fund. For example, a 30-year old would put 20 percent in bonds and 80 percent in stocks.

This strategy nearly eliminates “the two greatest enemies of equity investing — expenses and emotions,” Bogle said.

Bogle’s attitudes have barely changed since he started the first index fund in August 1976.

That fund, now called Vanguard Index 500, has about $112 billion in retail assets and is the second-largest fund after American Funds’ Growth Fund of America, according to Morningstar.

Bogle wrote the excellent “Battle for the Soul of Capitalism“.

Live Blogging Halloween 2006

Kristian Knutsen:

Tonight’s the big night. The Saturday before Halloween. Freakfest on State Street. Riot gear and pepper spray four years running. What’s going to happen this year? That’s the question on everybody’s minds, from city leadership down to every last costumed reveler on State Street.

The Daily Page is collaborating with The Daily Cardinal to provide continuous live coverage about the State Street parties, along with comments from elected officials, city staff, police spokespersons, and other participants and observers in the 2006 edition of Halloween in Madison.

On Google’s Intentions


News: Internet privacy? Google already knows more about you than the National Security Agency ever will. And don’t assume for a minute it can keep a secret. YouTube fans–and everybody else–beware.

Google Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the two former Stanford geeks who founded the company that has become synonymous with Internet searching, and you’ll find more than a million entries each. But amid the inevitable dump of press clippings, corporate bios, and conference appearances, there’s very little about Page’s and Brin’s personal lives; it’s as if the pair had known all along that Google would change the way we acquire information, and had carefully insulated their lives—putting their homes under other people’s names, choosing unlisted numbers, abstaining from posting anything personal on web pages.

That obsession with privacy may explain Google’s puzzling reaction last year, when Elinor Mills, a reporter with the tech news service cnet, ran a search on Google ceo Eric Schmidt and published the results: Schmidt lived with his wife in Atherton, California, was worth about $1.5 billion, had dumped about $140 million in Google shares that year, was an amateur pilot, and had been to the Burning Man festival. Google threw a fit, claimed that the information was a security threat, and announced it was blacklisting cnet’s reporters for a year. (The company eventually backed down.) It was a peculiar response, especially given that the information Mills published was far less intimate than the details easily found online on every one of us. But then, this is something of a pattern with Google: When it comes to information, it knows what’s best.

Schwarzenegger’s campaign Combines Shopping & Voting Databases


Gin or vodka? Ford or BMW? Perrier or Fiji water? Does the car you buy or what’s in your fridge say anything about how you’ll vote?

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s campaign thinks so.

Employing technology honed in President Bush’s 2004 victory, the Republican governor’s re-election team has created a vast computer storehouse of data on personal buying habits and voter records to identify likely supporters. Campaign officials say the operation is the largest of its kind in any state, at any time.

Some strategists believe consumer information can reveal a voter’s politics even better than a party label can.

“It’s not where they live, it’s how they live,” said Josh Ginsberg, the Schwarzenegger campaign’s deputy political director.

SAIC’S Robert Hirsch on Peak Oil

Defense & The National Interest:

10/24/06 Peaking of world oil production, an update by Robert Hirsch, Senior Energy Advisor, SAIC: