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February 04, 2006


I only noticed that the SuperBowl was tomorrow, earlier today, as well, via glancing at tomorrow's tv schedule.

As a completely non-sports person, the closest I come to interest is faint curiosity if there will be any interesting commercials. I won't care enough to monitor, but will read reports on that after the fact.

Other than that, I'll ignore it like every other sports event (this is not in any way a criticism of anyone who enjoys any sport, or specifically American football, or the SuperBowl; it's merely a personal preference, and that's all, nothing more).

Since it's an open thread: anyone for an update on the Republican War On Science?

I don't offer all that much advice on Iraqi policy, but possibly best to try not to shoot up the Canadian Ambassador's car, I think, especially when he's in it.

More Hamas, particularly Hamas women.

Rocket racing!

New strides in video monitoring via computer and facial recognition.

The godfather of Iranian blogging goes to Israel.

Alaska won't let you build a cyclotron in your backyard. Darn.

Best Redundant New Hugo Category.

Bruce Sterling's latest.

Washington State protects the beasts from sex with humans; your Washington State tax dollars at work.

More Israel/Palestine/Hamas, though some already posted in the Hamas thread here.

Your Congressional tax dollars at work, as Congressional IP addresses play games at Wikipedia.

Genius at work. Not.

A link that's not to me! Mencken's obit of William Jennings Bryan. Ooh.

That's enough.

Naturally, as soon as I post the above, Blogger and Blogspot go (momentarily only, I hope) down, as has been happening on and off all week.

Betty Friedan has died.

It just hit me: I can use this open thread to ask for advice on two questions.

(1) I am going to the UK for a meeting, and so, of course, I have tacked on a couple of days. Anything in particular I must do? (Note: birding may absorb a bunch of time. Heh heh. Sat. night in London, and Sun. am, is the most likely residual time.)

(2) Prompted by the trip, I am about to get my first point and shoot digital camera. (I have an old used Nikon that I got on ebay specifically to take pictures with my telescope, but while it's good for that purpose, it manages to combine unwieldiness with lack of quality, being sort of antique, as digital cameras go. It just works best for digiscoping, is all.) Anyone know of any reason why I shouldn't go for the Canon SD 450?

Thanks in advance ;)

This is an open thread? Good. I've found some stuff I'd like to toss out for discussion.

While looking up stuff for a post at thenexthurrah about Iranian assets, I found some papers written on the subject of OPEC generally (and the individual oil producing countries specifically) switching from dollars to Euros. Wesley Clark wrote a paper back in Jan 2003 saying that was the real reason for the war against Iraq: Saddam had made the switch in 2000, and one of the goals of the occupation was to surreptitiously switch Iraq back to a dollar denomination. (I don't know if this has been done.)

I also found a paper (written in Dec 2005) saying the same fear of dollars-to-Euros was the real driving force in Bush's campaign for a war with Iran. Here's a quote from the paper:

"This time, it is Iran that is causing problems. But, CNN will have you believe that Iran is causing nuclear problems by refusing to scale back its nuclear program. The real story is that by March 2006 Iran is threatening to have in place an entity called the Iranian Oil Bourse. Trading of Oil on this exchange will be denominated in – yes you guessed it – Euros."

March 2006 is - well, imminent. The pressure on Iran from the US (and, to be sure, Europe) has suddenly accelarated - and Iran has helped that accelaration, with its intransigence on the nuclear development issue.

The thing is, Iran isn't acting like a country that fears the consequences of its acts; quite the opposite. It would be good to know why that is; whether it's as-Allah-wills fatalism, or whether Iran has some very nasty tricks up its sleeve that have nothing to do with nuclear development, and everything to do with currency/oil disruptions.

Oops! Meant to include links to the papers. (Sorry, not embedded; I can never remember how to do that.)

The Clark paper:


The Meridian paper:


CaseyL: It's William Clark, not Wes. I have encountered this hypothesis before, and have always thought it thin as "the" explanation for thee war. But I don't know enough about currencies, and the importance of having oil sold in dollars, to know whether it might have been A reason. Does anyone?

Hilzoy - for digital camera info I like this place

Superbowl tomorrow -- I am always aware of the superbowl but usually don't watch it except in passing. Seattle is my regional representative to the NFL and for some reason my wife has gotten caught up in the hoopla so she is looking forward to the game. Generally I view big time sports (and professional sports in particular) as having the same positive affect on our culture as religious fundamentalism, drug abuse and pornography.

Speaking of religious fundamentalism - this article kind of disturbed me. Is Brownback still a rising star?

Hilzoy: don't know which camera suits your needs best, but I've had Canon for years now, various camera's, and have always been happy with them.

And Caseyl: changing back to dollars was one of the first things the US did once they had the power to do so. In those days we made jokes about how it was easier to smuggle a bundle of dollars home than a pile of euro's. We would have never guessed at the amounts that seem to be "misplaced" since than.

I don't think it was THE rationale for the invasion though.

"Anything in particular I must do?"

You've been to Britain before?

CaseyL: "(Sorry, not embedded; I can never remember how to do that.)"

See here. Look at "link something."

That's it.

"Is Brownback still a rising star?"

He's not in disgrace, last I looked. He's held in good regard by the Dobsonite types, last I looked.

If it will help relieve the taste in your mouth, you might want to read this.

Gary: yes, back in my traveling days, but not for about 20 years, so I'm a bit rusty. And I seem to keep reading about new museums etc. And besides, how else would I find good recommendations?

I love London. I can't imagine why I haven't been for so long, other than the fact that I spent most of the 90s trying to get tenure.

From that RS piece on Brownback (which even I would have to say is obviously a hatchet job, much though I don't particularly mind):

Whenever the senator met with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to talk policy, he insisted that they first study Scripture together. The two men would study their Bibles, music playing softly in the background.
This is pretty funny, because Sharon was extremely well known to be utterly non-religious (like just about all the founding fathers of Israel, from Ben-Gurion to Jabotinsky). His only interest in the Bible was history; not religion.
When Brownback travels, he tries to avoid spending time alone in his hotel room, where indecent television programming might tempt him.
Best to censor it, of course, for all our sake's. Sin is just so darn tempting.

"Gary: yes, back in my traveling days, but not for about 20 years, so I'm a bit rusty."

Well, there are eight bazillion things to do in the London area. Hard to know where to begin with suggestions.

"Sat. night in London, and Sun. am" does narrow it down some. Not so many museums open, I think (but would advice checking regarding Sunday morning hours; I'm partial to the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert, but there are dozens and dozens, maybe hundreds, of others, and 37 hundred thousand bazillion historical sites). Saturday evening, there's theater, concerts, etc. Might want to check TimeOut! for what's going on on those dates. (Oh, look, they have a n article on what's going on in NYC. :-) How helpful.)

Oh, I overwhelming suggest get a copy of London A-Zed BEFORE you leave, and surgically attach it to yourself until you're on the plane home. Unless you like wandering, hopelessly lost, in London, which does have some pleasures, but which mostly can be gained when you at least have a hope of being able to find where it is you're trying to get to.

"Does anyone?"

I know enough to be confused. I have seen that being the world's "reserve currency" gives the dollar about a 30% additional value compared to other currencies. If we lost our reserve status tomorrow, interest rates or CPI (the choice is the Fed's) would immediately rise 3-4 points. But other nations, which are the biggest players, buy dollars (T-Bills) for a wide variety of reasons. America as "safe harbor" being one, the country least likely to default or inflate. Oil is sold in dollars, and China and Europe need dollars in reserve, or face added expenses for conversion. Iran in itself could not cause a crash in the dollar, but if an attack on Iran pissed off SA and China enough,a combination of players, at no small cost to themselves, could bring the US economy down. This is in part a consequence of the fiscal and trade deficits.

It is very important and very very complicated. I could link to a lot of posts, like Barry Rithholz talking about the real price of gold, or Stirling Newberry saying commodity inflation has been hidden by Fed policies in the real estate speculation, or a blog called "The Cunning Realist" saying the Bush administration must grab Iranian and Venezuelan oil this year. Much talk everywhere about the inversion of the yeild curve. But none of these guys understand it well enough to make much money off it, which is what they all do for a living.

There have been plenty of reports of Iran shifting its assets out of European and western banks in recent months, I might point out, so as to keep them safe from sanctions and seizures (which they have plenty of experience with from 1979; the U.S. government is still holding several billion dollar's worth of Iranian dollars pending some resolution or other of left-over hostage-related/breaking relations/sanctions issues).

CaseyL - you might like to read this.

For the history of how oil prices have been determined, I'd google the terms: Texas Railroad Commission, NYMEX, and Saudi market pricing.

This graph might put it all into perspective as to how OPEC, wars, etc. affect the markets.

"Wesley Clark wrote a paper back in Jan 2003 saying that was the real reason for the war against Iraq: Saddam had made the switch in 2000, and one of the goals of the occupation was to surreptitiously switch Iraq back to a dollar denomination. (I don't know if this has been done.)"

Yes, and this theory pretty much doesn't make sense from an economic point of view.

See for example Tyler Cowen, orJames Hamilton.

It boils down to this. Iran can put its bourse in whatever currency it wants. People will change into it to buy from Iran, and change into whatever currency is necessary for other purchases in other places. So long as people want to buy things from America, they will get lots of dollars. When they no longer want to buy things from America, they will not get lots of dollars. Going from dollars to euros and back isn't difficult enough to make a difference on that level.

"When they no longer want to buy things from America, they will not get lots of dollars."

Sebastian, considering the flat equity markets, the decline in manufacturing, and the record trade deficits, what exactly have "they" been buying from America?

"...what exactly have 'they' been buying from America?"


(Okay, mildly smartass; couldn't resist; pray forgive.)

Exports are quite high, just not as high as imports. But that is imports from every country in the world all put together. Plenty of people are buying plenty of stuff from the US. And in any case, declining exports don't impact the bourse argument one way or another. The whole point is that the dollar is not linked to concerns such as of the bourse. Other concerns? Certainly. The bourse? We don't care.


No apology necessary, Gary. That is, I think, the correct answer. At least at the margin. I have seen little evidence or discussion that foreign investors are buying land or other fixed assets, as the Japanese famously did in the 80s. Probably because the real estate bubble doesn't make land or buildings a real attractive investment.

Oh, that real estate bubble, with no down-payment loans and all the other risky financing instruments. Hmmm, well if interest rates climb another percent or two, the 70% of the American economy that is consumer spending is gonna take a really huge hit. But we may have gone as far in this psuedo-expansion as we can without corporations finally having to boost earnings with expansion, investment, price increases, or new hires. Those things mean inflation, unless Bernanke keeps raising interest rates. But if he raises interest rates....

The bourse wouldn't be very important if we weren't skating thin melting ice on razor blades...

One more thing...the federal budget.

What 400 billion in domestic discretionary and 400 billion for defense? Somewhere around there. And a percent rise in interest rates costs what, making this up, 50 billion additional dollars a year? It doesn't matter, 5 billion dollars would make Senators cry. Appropriations committees love this game.

"That is, I think, the correct answer."

Although the North Koreans are reportedly enjoying making their own (dollars). (I find this claim reasonably credible based upon many years of such reports, though I obviously can't verify them myself.)


The SD450 is a great little camera. If I had to play devil's advocate, though, I'd ask if you had checked out the Fuji F10 (or F11, which should be available in some places now). The SD line should be more portable, but the F11 has about four times as much ability to shoot in low-light without flash, and they're in more or less the same price range, so it's up to what your purchasing priorities are and which camera feels best to you.


I'd be leery of any camera that uses a proprietary battery, especially for foreign travel with AC voltage/plug issues. Extra batteries can be costly, and you have to be certain you have the proper power arrangements for recharging.

You might look at the Canon Powershot A95 instead, it runs on four AA alkaline or rechargeable batteries and has a fairly long battery life in part because it uses 4, where many cameras use 2. It is bulkier and weighs more though. I have used the A70 for 3 years now with good results.

I like Steve's Digicams for reviews myself.

Hilzoy, unless you're wedded to small, you might want to look at an ultrazoom, where you will get a 10x zoom ratio instead of 3 or 4. Both Canon and Panasonic make good ones, with stabilized lenses. Check Steve's or Imaging Resource for specific reviews.

Tim: after abdominal surgery, I am wedded to small. In any case, my plan is to use this (a) as a point and shoot, until it dies, and (b) to remember how to take pictures again. (I have, twice, gone on photography binges, with decent results, but both times I unfortunately forgot everything, eventually. I really like photography, but the mood has to hit me.)

"Tim: after abdominal surgery, I am wedded to small."

The point about batteries and recharging is a good one, though.

I'm not up on the past two years of cameras, and in digicams, that's multiple multitudes of generations, so I don't have specific model advice to offer, but people frequently do neglect the battery issue, and particularly as regards traveling out of the U.S. and having a recharger that will function, and live to regret it.

I'd greatly envy you having a trip to Britain, but not so much with only a day and a half of spare time. I found a month to be frustratingly far too short. And although I had initially had a few days in Wales schedules, that part wound up canceled, and I never made it out of England at all, to my great regret (Scotland Calling). I did make it up North as far as a couple of days in Leeds, at least.

The last time I spent an appreciable amount of time in the UK, I was hiking with my sister, and we got food poisoning. (We drank from a stream, thinking there was nothing but hillside above it. Later we thought: right, a hillside full of sheep. Our mistake.)

We spent all night with horrible fevers, throwing up, and then I (who felt marginally better than, well, call her Vizoy) went to ask for help, and the hotel managers kicked us out. We must have looked awful, since a truck (oops, a lorry) skidded to a stop to offer us a lift, and we were not hitchhiking. We then convalesced for six days in Keswick, eating nothing but popsicles (oops, ice lollies).

The next (and only other) time I got food poisoning, I was scared to death to tell anyone, lest I be kicked out of my hotel. Luckily, I wasn't. Instead, they called someone who walked in and said: Hello, I am a doctor. My name is Genghiz. (Or Cengiz, as they write it in Turkey.) I had never imagined I would have a doctor named Genghiz, but there he was.

"I had never imagined I would have a doctor named Genghiz, but there he was."

I khan-t imagine it. [ducks, runs]

was first in the UK about 20 years ago for 2 weeks with my wife. I never got over the jet lag. I was back in the 90's for business. Both trips had memorable faux pas. "Two countries separated by a common language" indeed.

This is completely off-topic, but...

I just spotted a pattern: hilzoy pastes her name at the top of her posts, but the others reveal that secret at the bottom. Is there some reason for this behaviour?

I don't know how much time you'll have for bird-watching, Hilzoy, but I'd recommend a visit to the RSPB's reserve at Minsmere on the Suffolk coast. I'd guess it would take 2 to 3 hours to drive there from London. It's probably almost 30 years since I was last there, but I think it's still regarded as one of the outstanding European bird-watching sites.

My mother was a bird-watcher and used to drag me around such places as a very reluctant and somewhat resentful teenager. After I left home I more or less completely lost interest in birds. My mother died four years ago and I inherited a couple of pairs of binoculars and a scope and tripod, and now I'm picking up where I left off all those years ago - but as I now live in Australia I have a whole new set of birds to get to know. That's fun, but also like having to learn to read again at the age of 44.

"I had never imagined I would have a doctor named Genghiz

there was a sub-thread over at Making Light a week or so ago (can't find it now) about aptly-named professionals, and one person mentioned having a Dr Ghengis Kahn.

my father's G.P. is Dr Slaughter.

Do they drive on the other side in England? I was there so long ago that I can't remember. I thought the whole country looked like a miniture golf course.
My advice is : stay out of the underground. I spent a week in London with my sister and she refused to walk any where. My only memories are of the posters in the underground. I'm still mad.

A potpourri of randomness here. Some of these have been linked here before, I think, but who cares? They're goodness anyway.

Baby's Named a Bad Bad Thing

The Daily Show: Level of Taint

Ultimate Showdown

The classic Lazy Sunday

The ruining of a classic: Brokeback to the Future.

And finally, some news from my former home which I refuse to summarize on grounds of comedy:


lily: yes, they do, and I don't think I'll be able to stay out of the underground entirely, though I vastly prefer walking.

I am looking forward to this. I think I might try to go to Norfolk, around Cley, on Sat.; it seems to be not all that far from Cambridge, where the meeting is.

There is a lot to be said for being an academic, at least once you get past the dismal odds against finding a decent job, and the equally dismal odds against getting tenure.

"And finally, some news from my former home which I refuse to summarize on grounds of comedy:"

It's good to see people creative enough to create their own rides.

"I thought the whole country looked like a miniture golf course."

Um, it's kinda possible this is an excellent way to get a number of Brits rather annoyed with condescending Americans. Just an utterly mildly intended observation about speech on an international forum; no offense intended.

I thought the Underground was fascinating, but I grew up in NYC, and am a subway buff; it's also unavoidable to get around London much; the map is not to scale, and stops that look extremely close on the map are in reality, not.

I found it impossible to get around London without both endless walking and use of the Tube. Trying to just walk, well, at the best, you'd have to confine yourself to one tiny part of it; London is many things, but "small" is not one of them.

Again: get your London A-Zed now! Spend a bit of time with it before you leave! Never let it leave your side while in London! Ever!

Mind the gap! Mind the gap!

Actually, what amused me most about using the Tube was that almost every day that I did, someone asked me for directions. (Apparently I look harmless and like I know what I'm doing.)

And that I could always give them correct directions. Including the very first time I entered a station (I was on my own, as I was most of my tourist time in London.)

I felt self-pleased, I'm afraid, with that. (I studied the map, is all; and the maps were well-posted in every station and car.)


Canon makes solid cameras. As for the sd450 - you can not set exposure manually with that camera. If that doesn't bother you, then go for it :)
If you want extra zoom, I recommend the panasonic fz5. 12x zoom, image stabilization and its not all that big considering the telephoto reach. Reasonably priced, too (~$350).

Also, I'm surprpised no one has mentioned dpreview.com as a source for camera reviews. I think dpreview and imaging-resource.com are the best sources. As for steve's digicams - ehh.. He's a nice guy and all, but he's just not too critical.

I thought the Underground was fascinating, but I grew up in NYC, and am a subway buff; it's also unavoidable to get around London much; the map is not to scale, and stops that look extremely close on the map are in reality, not.

A decent walker can get around the Circle Line without too much trouble; yes it's a hike, but not an unmanageable one. It's once you've left the Circle Line that distances truly aren't what they seem.

OK: I got the camera (considered the battery question, but I'd always get a second battery anyways, and adaptor plugs are my middle name. And it is so tiny and cute. I had tried DPReviews, which is normally where I check, but they haven't reviewed it yet, oddly.) -- I've always been grateful that I am not the sort of person who completely obsesses about purchases; I'm fine with minor mistakes, and this camera seemed as though it would be, at worst, a minor mistake.

I love to walk normally. I especially love to walk in London, which is one of the most coral-reef-like cities I know: all sorts of beings have made individual dwellings and businesses that have accreted in a glorious way into a huge thriving whole, and I love to look at them all. That said, long journeys will require the tube, given the time constraints.

Another look at the map has made me question the wisdom of going to Norfolk, since I have so little time. Hmm.

Typical problem: too many places I really, really want to go. (I resisted finding out anything about S. America for years, on the grounds that it was just about the only place I had only a general desire to visit, no specific reasons to go to specific places, and I was afraid of what might happen if it turned out that I wanted to go literally everywhere.)

And changing the subject dramatically: any of you physics geeks know how to calculate the lowest energy level of a particle confined to an infinite potential well with slanted bottom? [i.e. U(x) = kx for some k on [0,a], infinity elsewhere.] I've been trying to solve the (time-independent) Schrodinger equation of the system for a day or so now and I can't find any method that will give me elementary solutions -- and since I'm trying to explain this to an undergrad acquaintance, I don't really feel like busting out the power series solutions or other non-elementary techniques. Any advice?

[In fact, I'm guessing that it doesn't have a non-elementary solution, given the power series, which means there should be a slick/general method for winnowing out the lowest energy level, but damned if I remember what.]

Added in proof: unless I screwed up, the equation is c y'' + (k x - E) y = 0 (for appropriate constant c) with boundary conditions y(0) = 0, y(a) = ka, right? Damned if I know how to solve that, stupid non-linearity.

"I love to walk normally."

Don't visit the Ministry of Silly Walks, then.

"Typical problem: too many places I really, really want to go."

Me, too, except recent decades I don't get to go anywhere. :-(

Oh, well, maybe someday. There are relatively few countries, and different places in them, that I wouldn't like to visit for a while, all things otherwise being the same, and those that I wouldn't want to are pretty much the obvious ones.

Having a speaker of a native language along would certainly be helpful, though, while I'm fantasizing. Languages are not one of my strengths, alas.

Although I'm reasonably good with British dialects, up to a point. :-) (Avoid angry-looking chavs, perhaps.)

Gary: I'm good at languages. My secret: having, from a very early age, seen learning them as exactly like playing secret codes, which I loved.

My other secret, though: having had my Mom, then studying psych, say all the hard sounds from all the languages she knew over my crib when I was an infant, getting me to repeat them. Apparently it does make a difference to have learned them while your brain is still in massive language acquisition mode.

I envy you, hilzoy -- my family was stationed for three years in Europe, but never once got across the Channel. I still very eagerly want to go to the UK, and see all of it. Like, three weeks' worth or something. One day . . .

I went on a music audition today for the first time in, like, five years. The audition process just terrifies me; always has. Even with stuff as low-stakes as weekend warriors playing rock 'n' roll in clubs, I just get the biggest performance anxiety. (Actually that's true of anything I do publicly like that.) I only had to learn two songs for them, and I practiced and practiced for days, even listening to the songs in the car all the way to the audition to make sure I had the arrangements nailed.

Having done it, I really hope I get it. They seemed like a great bunch of people with solid talent and smart goals for part-timers. I think they liked my playing, and seemed to respond well to it, and they asked me a lot of questions. Since my previous band has just sort of fallen apart, I find myself really wanting to do something new, soon. I hope I get the nod from these folks.

I still very eagerly want to go to the UK, and see all of it. Like, three weeks' worth or something.
I'd suggest "three months" would get you started.

Three weeks wouldn't get you much better started than in seeing all of the U.S. in 3 weeks, unless the idea was literally just zooming at top speed by car through the major cities, and by ferry to Northern Ireland, and flying home.

I had a month, which was pretty much 2 1/2 weeks in London (barely scratching the surface), a long weekend in Leeds, a week in Cambridge, and and about 3 days in Sussex; I never even made it to Scotland or Wales, let alone NI, let alone most of England, let alone Liverpool, Manchester, and on and on and on. (Let's not get started on the Channel Islands, Isle of Man, Orkneys, Rockall, the Shetlands, or other important islands.)

The UK is vastly smaller than the U.S., but is hardly small.

Personally, I'd need 3 months just in London to feel like I'd really gotten a good start on just that city. Hell, I wouldn't mind a week just for the British Museum, instead of the single day I devoted.

This website is making me homesick.

"This website is making me homesick."

It's been good reading for about two and a half years, though I only glance occasionally.

Incidentally, Hilzoy, if you, or anyone in or near London wants to ever see the London Planetarium, your last chance is soon.

So, this is an open thread.

I felt moved to check something about ObWings, and I'm going to say what it is.

First, however, I'm going to say what this comment is. I'm going to make one (1) -- that's one (1), that's singular, that's the number before "2," which is "one (1)," and not more than one (1) suggestion, at the conclusion.

The rest is simple observation, albeit with a small amount of judgment involved.

If I were writing this as a post, I'd entitle it "Balance."

The idea, the notion, of this blog, Obsidian Wings, is to be a forum for people on all sides of the political spectrum to debate, and insofar as they can, to enjoy each other's company and comments, with some minimum of courtesy and at least an attempt to occasionally fake respect, if it doesn't exist.

That is, of course, my understanding, and certainly not a statement of the blog-owners, and be clear I'm just speaking for myself -- of course.

But that's my general understanding.

What I did was do a count of who has been posting in the past 3 calendar months so far, since December 1st.

I think the trends are, overall, quite consistent.

The results follow, and keep in mind my count might be off one or two, as I'm sometimes a bit sloppy about that sort of thing.

I annotate a few of the numbers when I -- purely as an exercise in personal judgment -- am noting that a post is either labeled an "open thread," and thus is relatively content-free in terms of the actual post -- and I'm noting when a post is a personal one, rather than about an Issue. There's nothing whatever wrong with the latter, of course, and it's to be encouraged, I think, for the posters to talk about themselves and their lives, but it seemed to me worth noting as a different sort of post, and that's all.

Here we go:

February, so far:

sebastian: 1

von: 1

charles: 0

edward: 0

hilzoy: 6



sebastian: 2

von: 5 (1 open) + (1 football narration) + (his grandmother's death) + (1 happy new year!)

charles: 5

edward: 14 (1 on fear of whales)

hilzoy: 24 (2 open) (1 happy new year!)



charles: 7

hilzoy: 36 (2 open) (1 vote for us in some blog awards) (1 on birds) (1 a silly sex story anecdote link)

sebastian: 4

katherine: 2

von: 4 (1 with 7 updates) (1 silly one on "joementum")

slart: 1 on his MRI

I think the trend is pretty clear here. The "liberal" side of the spectrum is blasting away, in numbers, the number of posts from the "right."

Von rarely posts on substance; vastly more than any other poster, he ends up adding multiple "updates" with corrections or modifications or amplifications. Slart simply doesn't post.

My single suggestion: take on another 1 or 2 sensible conservatives who will post with some frequency.

I'm not, obviously, presenting this suggestion as anything other than one guy's opinion, and I don't expect it or desire it to be taken as anything more.

But I don't think Hilzoy is posting remotely too frequently. The world can't have too many Hilzoy posts, and in the end, frankly, she seems to be the primary poster keeping this blog going.

But it looks to me as if the balance here is badly off, and it's no wonder there's a relative lack of non-whackjob/non-troll conservative commenters, with a handful of notable exceptions, it seems to me. There is a severe imbalance of conservative posts to liberal posts.

Naturally, I don't think there should be any attempt at any sort of mechanical rectification of this. I most certainly don't think there should be anything resembling a quota or "goal."

But it does seem to me that unless the present representatives of conservatism or libertarianism or perhaps "centrism," plan to significantly expand the frequency of their blogging, that despite the efforts of Sebastian and Charles, it just possibly might be a good thing to add on another one or two conservative and/or libertarian bloggers to get things a little more back in line with the original premise of the blog.

For the last time: just one guy's suggestion and observation. Please do not kill me now. Please don't jump on me for speaking out of place. Thank you for doing neither of these things.

Done now.

I guess no one has any thoughts on the above.

Another non-sequitur: Matt Stoller beats on a Redstate poster, calls the poster "racist."

Comments from Charles, Sebastian, Slart, anyone who likes Redstate?

I don't make it over there much at all, Gary, nor have I ever. I did scoot over a few times to check on what Moe was writing about over there, but it's been at least a month.

If you're asking of a critique of this article, I might be able to get to it today. I have heard quite a bit of uproar that the funeral in question was used to an inappropriate degree as a platform to bash Bush from, but given that I've yet to read word one on what was actually said and by whom, I have no opinion. As for the writer in question, I don't know him; don't even know of him, but it does look as if he's got some tendencies to racism. The claim of "coded language", though, is just one of those one-size-fits-all accusations that I'm not so fond of.

On the plus side, I have heard some high praise for Bill Clinton from the right in this regard, which is...when's the last time that happened?

Slart -
As part of your review of the King Funeral controversy, I suggest you include Professor Bainbridge's takes here and especially here.

Which of us likes RedState? In my opinion it is just a right-wing Kos, which from my perspective is no compliment. (And let's not analyze yet again the pros and cons of Kos. Suffice to say that I'm not a fan of either site at this point and for very similar reasons).

As for your balance comment. Good food for thought, though I'm not sure who we would seek if we sought someone.

"As part of your review of the King Funeral controversy, I suggest you include...."

And I'd suggest including this, this, this, and this.

It would be a remarkable insult to a person whose life was politics if their politics were remembered, spoken of, and honored, at their memorial service. Regardless of their ideology.

"Good food for thought, though I'm not sure who we would seek if we sought someone."

You're suggesting there's a shortage of sensible, moderately conservative, conservatives, interesting in open debate and give and take, in the blogosphere?

I say that part-joking, but part entirely seriously. Is this truly the case? If so, why, would you say?

Or is it just that those you can think of are already blogging and unlikely to be willing to start cross-posting here and engaging in lots of comments (I do think a willingness to do the latter should be more or less part of the commitment, although, of course, that's just my opinion as just a reader, and nothing more)?

Not to defend the site, but I think blanton is fairly consistently the worst regular front-page contributor to RedState. And yeah, that post smacks of racism in my book. What is interesting is to see posts like that complemented by Paul Cella's turgid treatises on the virtues of preferring one's own kind. Honestly, I think they are developing a sort of rank system over there, with foot soldiers shouting crude slogans and keeping the populace in line, while the intelligentsia crafts pseudo-intellectual justifications for what amount to base impulses like, in this instance, xenophobia or racism.

And I suspect Sebastian and I are on more or less the same page with respect to both DailyKos and RedState. My biggest disappointment of late, though is seeing that Moe Lane has taken up residence in RedState's dissent-free-zone, and appears to be on some sort of crusade against the Democratic party. Not that it surprises me that he dislikes the party, just that he seems particularly focused on taking petty pot-shots at Democrats on things like electioneering tactics, to the near-exclusion of any actual substantive issues, and is doing so from within the relative safety of the echo chamber. Is this an uncharitable read on my part?

"Or is it just that those you can think of are already blogging and unlikely to be willing to start cross-posting here and engaging in lots of comments (I do think a willingness to do the latter should be more or less part of the commitment, although, of course, that's just my opinion as just a reader, and nothing more)?"

The ones I can think of already have bigger sites than us.

Does ThirdGorchBro have his own blog? If not, he always is able to offer good commentary from what appears to be a sensibly conservative viewpoint without being mistaken for a Bush apologist.

From the americablog link:

FURTHER UPDATE: Bush was there while everyone spoke. Does anyone think MLK or Mrs. King would pass up that opportunity to give them an a piece of their minds? Doubtful.

Presumptive, and...well, if it were my parents being memorialized, the last thing I'd want is to have people using the occasion to take political potshots. Maybe that's just my personal sense of decency, though. It being mine, personally, I've pretty much refrained from asking other people to comply.

But maybe this is the up-and-coming thing for funerals. If so, throw me in the tree shredder when no one's paying attention. Again, a matter of personal preference.

There was that obit circulating around in 2004 where the person being memorialized had requested that in lieu of flowers mourners send money to any cause devoting to preventing Bush's reelection. (Or something along those lines.) Rather typically, my dad has requested that we donate his body to science--which, as he informed the Bush/Cheney 2004 fundraisers, has become a major political issue to him recently.

ThirdGorchBro has a livejournal, but he restricts himself to Buffy-related posts on it.

I personally don't think the balance is too out-of-whack on ObWi. Hilzoy obviously does the lion's share of posting these days, but I always get more out of them then I do almost anything else in the blogosphere.

I enjoy Balloon Juice and Belgravia Dispatch and Dan Drezner, but I like feeling challenged to step outside my comfort zone. And that's what I get here.

All that aside, it seems as if Gary has gotten politics and justice all muddled together. Or maybe I have completely misunderstood the Civil Rights movement as a political machine, as opposed to a mechanism whereby justice is served. The two don't overlap all that much, especially considering what one encounters where politics are the be-all and end-all.

Or, to rephrase: politics is where decency (and pretty much everything else) is thrown aside in the name of expediency. If this is what the Kings were really all about, I'm going to have to edit what I thought I knew about MLK and family.

Well, I'll echo Phil's endorsement, in case you ever change your mind, TGB.

Is this an uncharitable read on my part?

Not from where I'm standing.

Ditto re TGB.

My Goddess abhors a vacuum, and I find myself arguing points from a more conservative perspective than normal just to even things out a touch.

Of course more posts from the dexter wing would help.

Or, to rephrase: politics is where decency (and pretty much everything else) is thrown aside in the name of expediency.

That may be your definition of politics, but I can assure you that it is not a universal definition of politics.

What exactly do you consider the Voting Rights Act of 1965?

BTW, TGB, if you're a Buffy maven: Mrs. R watched "Hush" for the first time with me the other night. We had to pause the dvd during the overhead scene until she stopped laughing. (Otherwise it was a bit scarier than she likes.)

And Slarti, politics is really just the art of leveraging human relationships, both positive and negative, to achieve ends. That can, and too frequently does, mean throwing decency aside, though it doesn't have to.

But in this discussion, critics are initially using "politics" to mean "political issues" or "advocacy", then switching meanings mid-criticism. They first determine that the comments were "political" in the more benign sense, then use that to prove that they were indecent, since all politics is, as you suggest, indecent.

This is the same game politicians play when they use the phrase "playing politics" in a pejorative sense. As if everything they do isn't political, for good or for ill.

From Time: "The largest single ad buy of the [2004] campaign comes from conservative Progress for America. It shows Bush comforting 16-year-old Ashley Faulkner, whose mother died on 9/11. As it happens, the spot was made by Larry McCarthy, who produced the infamous Willie Horton ad [...]"

Semi-randomly: Jess and I finally managed to get me through Season 7 of Buffy recently. We'd been stuck on S6, in which I rapidly lost interest, and finally decided to skip a large number of episodes in favor of having her fill me in on the important plot points in otherwise crappy episodes dwelling on how magick is a drug and is teh evil. Season 7, though... golden.

King's funeral: I remain shocked, shocked I tell you, that someone made political statements at the funeral of a lifelong activist. The people making hay over this are succeeding only in making themselves and their ilk look incredibly silly.

What exactly do you consider the Voting Rights Act of 1965?

This is a question that only could have arisen as a result of not having read the rest of my comment.

See? Sometimes I can't resist, if the bait is dangled just right. as opposed to a mechanism whereby justice is served, evidently, failed somehow to convey information tha fit just so.

Gary: I had somehow missed this thread's becoming active again (I have been busy.) I noticed the imbalance months ago, and wondered whether I should post less, and ended up thinking: why? But I regret it.

I think some part of it has to do with the fact that there are fewer conservative commenters, so I'd imagine that posting, for some of the conservative posters, might feel like putting something up and waiting for it to get pounced on. And presumably, they have lives, and all that.

I always wondered about the balance of commenters until Katherine pointed out the obvious explanation: we (including the conservatives) get way more links from liberal sites than from conservative ones (excepting libertarians, who do link to us on occasion.) And that fact in turn is (I think) a reflection of some real difference between the liberal and conservative bloggers, which I'm having a hard time putting my finger on just now.

But clearly it's a problem.

Phil: "Does ThirdGorchBro have his own blog?"

For the record, that was exactly the name I was going to bring up after reading Sebastian's response just above this. My thought just before that was "so maybe you could look through the comments of such blog-writers and find some promising commenters to invite/recruit"?

On other fronts, I don't look at RedState save on rare occasion when someone I read links in an intriguing way. Same for Kos. For the same reasons.

FURTHER UPDATE: Bush was there while everyone spoke. Does anyone think MLK or Mrs. King would pass up that opportunity to give them an a piece of their minds? Doubtful.

Presumptive.... Ridiculous. There's not the faintest possible doubt in the world if you know anything about either individual.

well, if it were my parents being memorialized, the last thing I'd want is to have people using the occasion to take political potshots.
And if you were a dark-pigmented civil rights crusader during the Sixties, the application of your personal preferences would make sense. Similarly, your reactions to what's appropriate at a memorial might be different were you a Tibetan peasant, or a rural Inuit, or a 19-year-old light-pigmented Manhattan heroin-addicted punk.

Cultural views of appropriateness are not universal.

"I noticed the imbalance months ago, and wondered whether I should post less, and ended up thinking: why? But I regret it."

I should be very upset if the Hilzoy were to in any way act in the least on any impulse whatsoever towards posting less.

The Hilzoy need pay no attention to my feelings and opinions as regard this, of course, but I'm stating this clearly for the record. We can't have enough of the Hilzoy, and the world cries out for more Hilzoy, not less.

I am confident that I speak for more than the mouse in my pocket on this.

This is a question that only could have arisen as a result of not having read the rest of my comment.

Check your assumptions.

This is partially my fault; I was thinking of the Voting Rights Act from the perspective of the politicians who voted for it, but I didn't make that clear. I don't see, in their case, how justice and politics can be considered opposing forces.

I don't see, in their case, how justice and politics can be considered opposing forces.

Nor can I; thanks for clarifying. Short, possibly unsatisfying answer: justice and politics are aligned when they are; otherwise it's just politics doing random other stuff. Politics is a 427 Cobra with a blower and sidepipes; bring your own steering wheel and brakes. Or bring your own quart of Wild Turkey, and never mind the speed limit in school zones.

If that didn't make much sense, clarification is going to have to wait.

I pretty much also agree with Mark Evanier on complaints about the Coretta Scott King and other funerals, here.

It's not clear to me in what tradition it's courteous to criticize the choices made by the family and friends of how to memorialize their loved one. Is this some new custom I'm unfamiliar with? Funeral-critiquing?

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