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{Monday, April 14, 2003}

Weeks, not months
Tikrit has apparently been seized.

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Scary Rumsfeld Quote of the Day
South Knox Bubba reports that during a press briefing, the SecDef criticized some media outlets for reporting the looting in Baghdad instead of the jubilation of Iraqis at being liberated. After citing one such example, Rumsfeld apparently turned to General Myers and said, "we ought to go after that newspaper, too." [emphasis mine]

Nothing to see here, people. Move along.

[via The Gamer's Nook]

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{Sunday, April 13, 2003}

Blogger Pro's built-in spell checker doesn't recognize blog or any of its variants as words.

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That strange post about Gawker
If Gawker were a woman, you'd want to have sex with it.* The gossipy blog spends a good deal of time making fun of Paris and Nicky Hilton, but in your mind it's become conflated with them -- and boy do you want to give those two the business. You know it would be meaningless and shallow, but you'd get to feel superior and it would give you something to talk about later.

*Admittedly, you want to have sex with everything.

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when the chickens come home to roost, one can always slaughter the chickens and move elsewhere.
- The Bellona Times, on the behavior of power

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{Saturday, April 05, 2003}

Radar Love
In which we explain what is great about blogging by examining the origins of an artwork

What's so great about the internet? Everyone knows about the information, the universal database of all human knowledge, the porn. I love those things too. But the great thing about the internet is obviously blogging, and the heart of blogging is radar love.

The concept is embodied in a single picture, one that must be worth more than a thousand words (as you'll see from how many I have to use to explain it).

It all started when Hugh moved to New York.

Almost six years later there are more than three hundred cartoons. Epigrams with art. Like:

"I'm going to eat this city alive.

Or vice versa."

That one is mine, but it gives you a feel for them. New York is a tough town and Hugh has it pegged.

Exhibit 1: A Hugh Macleod cartoon

Elizabeth moved to New York too. Three years later her blog, Gawker, gets 8,000 visits per day. Everyone likes a gossip.

Exhibit 2: An item from the Gawker FAQ:
1. Are you as shallow as you appear?
Gawker is dedicated exclusively to frivolity and excess. I do, on occasion, stare into the existential abyss, ponder the nuances and shudders, and produce what some might refer to as "serious thoughts." You will never see these on Gawker.

In truth, I aim to be much more shallow, and am very demanding of myself in this respect. Every morning I look in the mirror and ask myself, "Am I vapid enough?" "How can I learn to make people care less about others, and more about me?" ... Sometimes I find myself not really caring which book Nicky Hilton's reading or whether she's remembering to color inside the lines, and I feel momentarily guilty. Happily, a Xanax, a martini, and a couple of lines of moderate-quality coke seem an effective remedy.

2. Admit it: you're just a bunch of social climbers.
We're just a bunch of social climbers.

Hugh and Elizabeth have never met. In December, Hugh made this:

Exhibit 3: The Artwork in Question
Hugh Macleod Cartoon about Gawker

That cartoon up there wouldn't exist without blogs. This is the chain of its existence:
  1. In October of 2002, Ray Davis buries a link to Hugh Macleod's web site at the beginning of a cryptic post on the Bellona Times
  2. Miranda Gaw sees it and in November she links to Hugh on Geegaw
  3. Graham Leushke sees Miranda's post and links to Hugh too
  4. R. Allan Baruz reads Leushke regularly, but he doesn't link to the post about Hugh
That's where it might have ended. Except:
  1. Back in time, in June of 2002, Megan McArdle of Asymmetrical Information hosted a bloggers' get-together in New York
  2. I went
  3. There, I met R. Allan, the guy who didn't link to Leushke's post about Hugh. Allan's blog is Rough Days for a Gentil Knight and I hadn't read it before the party
  4. Afterwards, I started reading Allan's blog semi-regularly
  5. In November of 2002, I was reading Rough Days again, and I found this pointer to Leushke
  6. From that post on Leushke, I read randomly and happened to find the post that links to Hugh's web site
  7. On Tuesday, November 19, 2002, I posted about Hugh's cartoons
The secret greatness of blogging is that on November 27, the following note was left in the comment section to my post about Hugh:


I came across your website. Thanks for the kind words. Glad you liked the work.

I live in New York, though I've been staying a lot more in my cottage in the boonies since 9-11.



That's where it might have ended too. Except:
  1. At Megan McArdle's party, I also met Elizabeth Spiers, whose blog, Capital Influx, I'd already been reading
  2. After the party, Elizabeth started reading Objectionable Content semi-regularly
  3. On Wendesday the 20th, after seeing my post about Hugh's cartoons, Elizabeth posts her own link to Hugh on Capital Influx
Hugh Macleod to Elizabeth Spiers in 14 steps. From Elizabeth back to Hugh in one step: the referrer log.

Once he found Capital Influx, Hugh could read the announcement of Gawker's creation on December 6th. And on the 26th Elizabeth could post the Hugh Macleod cartoon about Gawker onto Gawker.

If it wasn't for blog posts, for "via so and so" lines, referrer logs, and a get-together organized entirely on-line, that cartoon wouldn't exist. Radar love ladies and gentlemen.

Come on, you know the words:

We've got a thing, that's called radar love
We've got a wave in the air

After he found the post, Hugh and I traded some e-mails. Because I am hopelessly bourgeois, one of the first things I asked him was whether prints of his cartoons were for sale.

Well, now they are.

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"Culling my readers to a select few since June 2002."
- Tagline to Aaron Haspel's blog, God of the Machine

Aaron explains Glickness and then (daringly or shamelessly?) ranks the bloggers according to their possession of it.

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Misleading for Columbine
Tim Hulsey of My Stupid Dog has been reviewing movies. Can you guess, dear readers, what film he's referring to here:
"The film itself is great propaganda, on a par, I think, with Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will and Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin."
Of course you read the title to this post and guessed correctly.

Tim goes on to link to some articles that debunk much of the key arguments in Michael Moore's film (or his "alleged documentary" in Tim's words).

The best of the bunch is Joshua Galun's An Examination of "Bowling for Columbine." To get to the article you'll have to scroll down just a tiny bit past the dated updates at the top of the page.

The second-best of the bunch is this Spinsanity piece.

All of the critics admit that Bowling for Columbine is bitingly funny. Even Tim confesses: "In awe and admiration, I've seen the film twice," making him an accomplice in Bowling for Columbine's achievement of highest-grossing documentary film of all time.

Which makes me wonder: Which is the better choice, achieving fame while being revealed as a liar, or having your lies believed but at the cost of remaining relatively obscure?

(Yes, you're a liar in both cases. Just admit it.)

Update: Is Bowling for Columbine the highest-grossing documentary of all time as its makers claim, or is that also a lie? MacGillivray Freeman's Everest appears far, far ahead of it. Everest is an IMAX film, and so may all under a different category, but it has grossed over $120 million worldwide, versus a paltry $30 million for Bowling for Columbine.

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Coalition of the willi--
Oops, we just lost two members of the coalition of the willing. Turns out they were never part of it in the first place. How embarassing.

Item #1 comes from Bryant Durrell's Population: One.

In news that will no doubt have a profound effect on the war — almost as profound as the initial announcement — the Solomon Islands have pulled out of the coalition. In fact, the Solomon Islands Prime Minister says he was completely unaware that they were even in the coalition.

I mean, no, of course it doesn’t matter. But how do you add a nation to the list without checking first? Did they just hope the little guys would be too embarassed to contradict them?

Via the Spokesman Review.

Item #2 comes from doublethink.

The only thing I know about Slovakia is what I learned first-hand from your foreign minister, who came to Texas.

-- George W. Bush to a Slovak journalist,
after meeting with Janez Drnovsek, Prime Minister of Slovenia.
Knight-Ridder News Service, June 22, 1999

This just in from Ljubljana! Hundreds of Slovenians hit the streets Wednesday to protest their country's inclusion in President Bush's $75 billion Iraq war budget as a partner in the war against Iraq. The White House asked for $4.5 million for Slovenia as part of the grants to members of the vast "coalition of the willing."

Small problem: The lovely Alpine nation isn't a member. "When we asked for an explanation, the State Department told us we were named in the document by mistake," Prime Minister Anton Rop said at what Reuters called "a hastily arranged news conference."

This of course would not be the first time someone confused Slovenia and Slovakia...
They Got the 'Slov' Part Right
Washington Post, March 28, 2003

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