Halliburton out of the big game

BBC: Halliburton, the company once headed by US vice-president Dick Cheney, is out of the running for a $600m US government contract to rebuild Iraq. (Thanks to Adam for the pointer.)

The contract in question is the big infrastructure rebuild (the role that Bechtel played in Kuwait after Gulf War I). The article states that Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root was awarded a “contract” without competition to put out oil fires in Iraq. As we all know by now, that should be task order, not contract. And calling it noncompetitive is interesting; this is the first time I’ve seen that confirmed in print. Oh, to get my hands on that DD350…

On the banality of lawn care

I was excited a few weeks ago to realize that our lawn needed to be cut. This may sound odd, but last summer and fall everything was so dry that I was afraid that the grass wasn’t going to come back. But it was looking long, lush, luxuriant, and I was happy.

So yesterday, I set my self up for a day of lawn care, I got the mower out. And after a few rounds discovered that it was “luxuriant” the same way the hair of a man with a comb-over is “luxuriant.” Only when I clipped the sparser-than-I-realized grass back, I found not bare scalp but moss. And dandelions.

God, dandelions. Bane of my existence. At least I found a curiously satisfying way to attack them (shovel, at a shallow angle under the center of the dandelion, to cut the taproot, then the whole plant comes up with a gentle tug, without harming the surrounding grass). I’ll need to keep watching for them; the taproots will continue to send up new plants until they exhaust themselves, and there will always be new ones that pop up. But I’ll be ready. After all, vigilance is the eternal price of a lawn.

This just in: I’ve been reclassified

According to Mark Pilgrim, I’m a peaceblogger. I guess it’s been so long since I posted about anything technical that my techblogging skillz are no longer apparent. (Apparently kung-f00 Google wizardry doesn’t count.) Thanks for the link, Mark, and may I also suggest The Green[e]house Effect; Greg is at least as much of a peaceblogger as me, and he has the political bona fides to go with it.

Hunting for the Halliburton contract

In the spirit of The Smoking Gun, I went looking for the Halliburton contract that was announced this week. What I found answered a few of the wilder conspiracy claims floating around, but still raises additional questions about disclosure and future business prospects for Halliburton. (Why are we interested in Halliburton? Remember, it’s all about the Harken-Halliburton Presidency.)


  1. The “contract” that was let this week is a task order under Halliburton’s existing indefinite delivery contract vehicle, contract DAAA09-02-D-0007.
  2. The scope of this task order is the development of a contingency plan to extinguish the oil well fires in Iraq; execution of that plan will be under another contract.
  3. The value of the contingency plan task order is almost certainly less than $5 million, probably less than $100,000.
  4. The real value will be in the follow-on work to this award.

Details, including a discussion of how I found this data, are here.

Has Blogdex been spammed?

Of the posts in Blogdex’s top ten today, #1 is an ad for the Columbia House DVD Club; #3 is a tie between six stock listings on Netster and something called NAQ; and #13 is a 34-way tie (probably more, but I couldn’t bring myself to click Next) between different discounthotels*.net listings.

I smell some changes coming to the authentication process at Blogdex.

In a nutshell…

A little long to print on an index card for easy reference, as someone suggested, but worth reading anyway: A warmonger explains war to a peacenik. My favorite part:

WM: The main point is that we are invading Iraq because resolution 1441 threatened “severe consequences.” If we do not act, the security council will become an irrelevant debating society.

PN: So the main point is to uphold the rulings of the security council?

WM: Absolutely. …unless it rules against us.

The sad, the bad, and the funny

Sad: Former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan Dead at 76. It may come as a surprise to casual readers (and as no surprise to a few close friends) that I don’t follow the machinery of government closely. I tend to kneejerk very handily in favor or disapprobation of whatever crosses my radar screen, but it wasn’t until I spent time talking with Lisa about her former career as a Congressional staffer and public policy maven that I understood how pivotal Moynihan had been in shaping intelligent, humane public policies during his career. His like will not come again for a long time, I’m afraid.

Bad: Use a firewall, go to jail. Ed Felten points to legislation pending before Massachusetts and Texas (among other states, including Georgia) that would extend the DMCA to criminalize the “possession, sale, or use of technologies that ‘conceal from a communication service provider … the existence or place of origin or destination of any communication.’” Firewalls, anyone? Encrypted email? NAT (such as is performed by a wireless hub)? Not if you value your liberty, ironically. Call your state representatives and let them know they’re being idiots…

Funny: The Index of Evil at Warblogger.com. A brilliant application of Weblogs.com, this one uses the hourly changes feed and scans all the newly updated websites for four keywords—“bin Laden,” “Ashcroft,” “Hussein,” and “Poindexter.” While their methodology may be suspect (surely Saddam is more commonly used?) their intent is sterling. And the Index may be syndicated. If I have time, look for an Ashcroft ticker to appear on this blog soon…

If I didn’t blog…

…I would have gone nuts by now. Honestly. I was thinking today about how crazy I was living by myself in the summer of 2001 during my internship, and how starting the blog got me through many of those dark nights (and occasionally on a road to self-discovery, though not often enough).

I also thought today about how I use this blog. Some of it is as an outboard memory, a commonplace book of things I find useful. Some of it is about things I have to say, or ideas that grab me and don’t let go until I write them down.

And some of it, honestly, is what I do to fill in the corners when I’m uncomfortable and feel myself slipping back into depression. I don’t write about the depression, I just write. It’s activity, and it consumes less thought and is more productive than the alternatives. But it doesn’t face or solve the problem of the depression, it just gets me past it.

I’m going to try to alter my writing patterns to: write fifteen minutes in the morning before work, for half an hour during lunch, and then anything else after dinner. I think if I can keep myself from compulsively blogging every time I feel a little depressed, I can both improve the content of this site (you win) and be more motivated to face depressive episodes head on and manage constructively through them (I win).

Continuing blog problems

Posts are going to my blog but then disappearing from the home page. This is problematic because Weblogs.com gets pinged anyway (though the RSS feed doesn’t update). Anyone seen this on a Manila site before?

Also, the server that runs the editorial part seems to be falling over regularly, and losing many of my changes with it.

Morning foliage, almost

I took a bunch of photos of our back yard this morning, with the full intention of posting them, until I remembered that Lisa has the USB cable for the camera with her at her conference. (Mental note: buy another A:B cable, cheapskate.)

It’s the kind of grey humid morning, just after a rainfall, that was so rare in Virginia… heh. Not here…