All entries for Monday 08 January 2007

January 08, 2007

Splits emerge over a 'troop surge' in Iraq

The 82nd Airborne Division, on their way to Kuwait. (c) Getty Images

America looks set to go it alone in its widely-anticipated “troop surge” in Iraq. An extra 20,000 U.S. soldiers will be sent to the country to ‘finish the job’ and build a longer-lasting peace.

But Britain and other (notably miniscule) members of the coalition don’t intend to follow suit. It’s widely agreed that British forces have been having more success than the Americans, using a cautious, softer approach in trying to win over ‘hearts and minds’. President Bush’s advisors seem to believe they can achieve the same ends through very different means.

Perhaps this is the only option open to the United States. Its forces are hardly renowned for their peacekeeping skills, so a surgical strike may be their own possible plan.

But there’s been criticism of the plan in Congress. The Democrat-led Senate is considering blocking funding for the surge, and a number of Republicans have spoken out against it too.

And with Britain looking to reduce its commitment during 2007, it appears few people have faith in the ‘surge’ as an effective method of bringing peace to Iraq.


Can blogging be profitable?

You probably won’t have noticed, but there’s no longer any adverts on my blog. Quite simply, they weren’t making a dime.

Which leads me to wonder if it’s possible to make money out of blogging if you’re an amateur? There’s been some recent attempts to do just that, such as MessageSpace which puts ads on big political blogs.

Their website says they were massively over-subscribed during the Party Conference season, although personal experience of the sites that use MessageSpace would suggest to me that they’re often advertising themselves (for free) rather than bringing in much cash from advertisers.

Whether you make any money seems to depend on how specific your blog is to one subject. Mine clearly isn’t very specific about anything. Some claim to have made around £500 a month from Google AdSense, the scheme I’ve been on. It’s not exactly enough to allow you to quit your job.

This blog post is very interesting. It shows people with far more ‘hits’ than me earning peanuts too.

I think the question is: who would want to advertise on a blog? It’s a fairly passive medium, and most readers are fairly savvy about the layout of Google Ads and can ignore them easily.

Probably the most successful person in this field is Matt Drudge of Drudge Report who doesn’t even style his site as a ‘blog’. It’s very Web 1.0. But apparently he makes millions per year.

Blogging’s a bit too new to say “you can’t make money from blogging”, but unless advertisers’ opinions change quite quickly, anyone hoping to give up their job and move to the Cayman Islands is going to be facing a long wait.


Google Reader Saved My Life

Google Reader Picture the scene. I’d visit a blog like Adam Meets World several times a day, just to see if he’d written anything earth-shattering. Of course he hadn’t. But I had to be first to see if he had.

I’d do this for several blogs, probably accounting for 90% of some people’s hits as I clicked ‘refresh’ out of boredom.

WELL NOT ANY MORE!!!

That’s right. I chose not to choose boredom. I’ve chosen something else. And it is Google Reader.

Google Reader gets all my favourite blogs, tells me when they’ve been updated and displays them all in a handy list (see left).

Not only has it saved time, but it’s also extended the life of my mouse. I heartily recommend it.


Jack's Back. And he's brutal.

JackSince the demise of The West Wing, nothing on television gets me going more than Fox’s 24.

Its fifth season picked up the Emmy Award for Best Drama and Best Actor – an incredible achievement for an action-based show up against more ‘serious’ dramas.

But its sixth season is going to be serious, sensational and utterly spectacular. A whole week ahead of its U.S. premiere I’ve seen the first two episodes (my girlfriend will kill me) and this is 24 as we’ve never seen it before.

The storyline’s going to be heavily controversial (remember the outrage of the Muslim community during Season 2?) and the first two episodes are shockingly graphic at points – (check out the OH MY GOD moment 60 seconds from the end of Episode 1). If previous seasons were rated 15, this one’s definitely for the strong-stomached adult.

But the rollercoaster ride is about three times faster than anything we’ve seen before. We get to see acres of Los Angeles in under two hours and there’s surprising new residents in the White House.

Jack goes from zero to superhero in under ninety minutes, and by 9am, Jack is sure-as-hell back.

This is going to be the longest twenty weeks of my life.

EDIT: Oh my freaking word. The next two episodes take this to a whole new level.


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