Today's Blogs

Boxed Out

Bloggers are grumpy that Xbox 360 supply and demand isn’t as well-coordinated as the hands and eyes eager to have at the new Microsoft toy. They’re also wondering about a report that President Bush “recommended” bombing Al Jazeera headquarters in Qatar, and about yet another proposed timetable for U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq.

Boxed out: Trying to get the jump on Most Favored Gift status, Microsoft began selling its highly coveted Xbox 360 console at midnight Tuesday. The trouble is, there aren’t enough of the preferred models (with a 20 gigabyte hard drive, selling for $399.99) to go around. eBay auctioneers are now hocking the item for an average of twice its retail value.

Even pre-orders were stifled. A frustrated “gamer’s mom” at Kats Knoll grumbles, “We put our hard earned money down (400 bucks) in advance for the promise of getting our Xbox 360 on launch day, and what did we get in return? A phone call stating that ‘Due to some mishap from Microsoft our store is being allocated to receive only around 10’, and thus I would not receive my XBOX 360 for up to a month later if that.” Carl Howe at the marketing-analysis haven The Blackfriars Blog anticipates peak consumer fury just in time for holiday cheer: “Expect the news of the backlash around XBox 360 shortages to hit a peak about second week in December when the rest of the world-wide XBox 360 launches are complete, and US gamers start asking, ‘Why do they get XBoxes when I pre-ordered mine in July?’”

But limited supply isn’t the only complaint coming from hard-core joystick jockeys. Many are evidently experiencing technical difficulties after only a few hours of use, resulting in a Matrix­-like string of characters that appears onscreen. Thomas Hochmann writes, “As much as I dislike Microsoft for a lot of things, the Xbox and (seemingly) the 360 are things they’ve gotten right. I’d hate to see a big recall on 360s because of crashes like this.”

By and large, however, most are finding the wait to have been well worth it, citing improved hardware features and dazzling visuals. “The controllers … get two thumbs up,” enthuses Aaron at Metal Dragons. “They are more comfortable, have better button placement and the wireless rocks! I still think I need to get used to the new headset though. Once they come out with the official wireless headset, I’m all over that!”

Read  more about the Xbox 360.

Film at 11 … maybe:  According to a “Top Secret” memo obtained by the U.K. tabloid Daily Mirror, George W. Bush floated the idea of bombing Al Jazeera at the Arab television network’s headquarters in Doha, Qatar. He was “talked out of it” at a White House Summit by Tony Blair, the article maintains. Both Downing Street and the White House have officially rubbished the claim. But the Mirror, facing a gag order, stands behind its original interpretation.

Patrick at the lefty Shakespeare’s Sister seems to agree with the Mirror. He writes, “I think it’s important to realize that the people at Al Jazeera are, y’know, PEOPLE… Didn’t someone lose their job for insinuating something like this?” And Chris Bertram at the like-minded The Crooked Timber findsan all-too-familiar method to this madness. “One of the neocon themes has been the need for free institutions in the Arab world. Such institutions presumably involve a free and independent media. And yet the closest thing to such a media in the region is discussed as a possible target of attack,” he writes. And Gal Beckerman, at Columbia Journalism Review Daily, also isn’t so sure the claim can be dismissed out of hand: “Joke or no joke, there is reason to pause. Al Jazeera has suffered two serious attacks at the hands of American forces in the last four years, both of which the U.S. military claimed at the time were accidents…This new revelation obviously casts those incidents in a potentially different light.”

Meanwhile, Glenn Reynolds at InstaPundit carries what he sees as a paranoid-baiting parody to its logical conclusion. “The real answer, of course, is that since Al Jazeera is a CIA front operation we’d never bomb it. Duh.” Will Maven at The Houston Conservative is also betting on the strictly jocose. “This report doesn’t even pass the smell test,” he says before likening Bush’s remark to Ronald Reagan’s infamous on-air gaffe about rocketing the Soviet Union in 1984: “It was a classic example of how pitiful Democrats are. They have no sense of humor and they were convinced that Reagan would kill us all in a nuclear war.”

Read  more about Al Jazeera.

We’ll take it from here, thanks: At the close of the Arab League-sponsored reconciliation conference in Cairo, Iraq’s delegates issued a statement calling for a “timetable” for the removal of all foreign troops from their country, and the consequent handover of all security responsibilities to the native army and police. Though no dates were specified, President Jalal Talabani indicated 2006 or 2007 as a possible start time for American de-escalation.

Pro-American Iraqi blogger Omar at Iraq The Model posits that a U.S. withdrawal might make a practicable difference in how his country confronts the insurgency: “[N]ow Iraqi insurgents will not be able to justify or adopt an attack against Iraqi civilians and in case they do so in the future, they and their representatives and supporters will lose their bargaining power because it would be them who violated the agreement, not the government.” Even righty Rich Lowry at The Corner, the blog of the National Review Online, is sanguine, emphasizing what this statement means about the willingness for sectarian compromise: “[T]hat Iraqi factions are sitting down and working out consensus announcements is important in itself. And it is natural that they should want a foreign occupying army to leave (although I doubt many Iraqi leaders privately would say they want us to leave anytime soon).”

Part of the statement legitimizes those insurgents who don’t “target innocent civilians or institutions designed for the welfare of the Iraqi people.” At this, Doug at Below The Beltway frets, “Pardon me for wondering, but does this mean that ‘insurgents’ targeting American soldiers are condoned by the new Iraqi leaders?”

Read more about the delegates’ statement.

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