I’m Now Officially an Ex-Blogger

March 14, 2007

I wanted to wait a day or two with this to avoid being in the embarrassing situation of posting a serious post right after announcing my exit. But I’m dropping off the blogosphere, entirely. I’ll keep reading a few blogs, comprising a subset of my current blogroll, but I’ll probably not comment except by email, and certainly not keep posting here or on Appletree.

The one exception is that I committed to hosting the Carnival of the Godless here on April 1st, and I intend to stick to that commitment. So this is actually my penultimate post.

Everything I said in my almost-exit post still holds, except that this is final. I’ve gotten my book count from 6 to 9 since I last complained about not reading, and frankly those last four days have felt so good, so relaxing, that I almost feel dumb for not having quit earlier. I’m not going to Yearly Kos or any other blog-based event, unless it’s non-boring (i.e. unless it shows me the back of my own ear).

If you still think I post good stuff and should stay, there are other places for you. The big one is of course Majikthise, hands down the best blog on the sphere, with a blogger who’s one of the few people who have made me feel dumb in comparison. 3QD similarly has highly intellectual posts about every issue known to (wo)man. But other than that, the treasures are among the small players.

– A short list of global injustices includes slavery, genocide, malnutrition, gaming consoles, and the fact that Stentor’s Debitage isn’t getting more traffic (recent highlight: conservative moral relativism).

– Lynet’s Elliptica is a lot like this place, only without the news-related rants you can get off Google News and the bitter impatience (recent highlight: laughing at Luskin).

– If you know Feministing, think of Bean’s A Bird and a Bottle as like Feministing, only fluffless, incisive, and massively underrated. As an added bonus, Bean is the only blogger I know who talks about the Abu Ghraib-style abuses occurring in domestic US prisons (recent highlight: girls in custody).

– The anti-fundamentalist, anti-stupid posts on Skatje’s Lacrimae Rerum are a gem, and the longish comment threads tend to only generate more gems. Plus, Skatje’s a conlanger, so it’s even better (recent highlight: a tragedy in one act).

– Tyler DiPietro’s Growth Rate n lg n is what I strived to be back when I was blogging on UTI (recent highlight: John Hawkins and the predictability of recurrences).

– Jessica and Jenny claim to be Just Dreadful, but in fact they show how spontaneous feminist blogging should look like (recent highlights: Jenny on the Phoenix New Times and Jessica on a failed abortion and an undiagnosed pregnancy).

– Bruce’s Crablaw is how (soft-core) libertarianism should be: focused on reckless government waste, investment in the future, and stupid restrictions on personal habits (recent highlight: Maryland’s truck nuts bill).

– Katie is more than just a Liberal Debutante – she’s a burgeoning ecology/feminism/science blogger who’s not delusionally infatuated with any of the three and who’s about to start doing some serious paleontology blogging (recent highlight: Guatemala sinkage).

– The East Asian blogging and the simple explanations of arguments I intended to engage in can be found on Battlepanda (recent highlight: Gore the energy hog).

– In my almost 7 months of blogging, I didn’t nearly link to Eteraz and its highly reflective posts about Islam and Middle Eastern politics as much as I should have (recent highlight: the future of Islamic theocracy and political liberalism).

– If you think liberals are historically ignorant and therefore need to be softer toward fundamentalists, give Accidental Blogger Ruchira ten minutes to set you straight (recent highlight: informed choice or Dawkins’ deluded?).

Niche Blogging

March 13, 2007

The blog advice posts tend to emphasize the need for a niche, a specialty. Katie talked to me for over an hour trying to convince me to just find one and blog about it. The problem is, I’m not into that kind of thing at all. Or, rather, I could be, but I’d have to switch niches every two weeks to avoid getting insane. Talking to people who take the time to read my posts is worthwhile, but I don’t think they’d give me a lot of time for that at Bellevue.

My posts are an eclectic mix of math blogging, heterodox feminism, dystopian warnings of the religious right, economic policy, and Middle Eastern politics. All of these interest me just enough to have a small community of commenters interested predominantly in them – e.g. Foxy, Bean, Tyler, Bruce, and SLC respectively. So I can’t neglect any of them, which again deprives me of the niche. Being right tends to help matters, but in more serious politics it’s only an impediment.

Which again brings me to why I’m probably hours away from writing that post I owe Lynet and then officially saying I’m done. I have 33 blogs on my roll that cover among them all the topics I talk about, only generally in more detail and without segueing to entirely different issues. There’s no room for a math/secular/feminist/policy/ME blogger; that’s what feeds are for. And if it’s the writing style that counts, isn’t that independent of the particular issues covered?

Yearly Kos Ticket for Sale

March 11, 2007

As I said in my previous post, I’m becoming increasingly sure dropping out of the blogosphere is a good thing (well, after I finish the posts I owe people). As such, I see no reason to attend Yearly Kos, which means I have a $100 registration for the convention that I have nothing to do with. At least I haven’t reserved a flight ticket or a hotel, which would cost me another $739.

It goes like this: if you want to attend the convention, feel free to use my ticket. It’s only $100, down from $225 currently available. I burned $50 on it yesterday at a fundraiser, but that out of my own personal stupidity, so there’s no point in inflicting that cost on anyone else.

So you can freely get a ticket from me for less than half the minimum price. But the catch is that usernames for convention registration are based on email addresses, so there’s no way for me to transfer the registration to an account you solely control. I can give you the password and promise I won’t reset it unless you ask me to, but I can only give you my word.

So a possible solution is that I’ll give you the password and you’ll pay me only once you’ve received your badge at the convention. Once you have a badge, even if I shut you out of the account it won’t matter.

Any takers?

That’s It for Me, I Suppose

March 10, 2007

I’m seriously contemplating dropping off the blogosphere. At the very minimum, I’m going to start purging the big bloggers from my ‘roll – there’s never any good discussion on most of them anyway – and concentrate on talking to people who actually take the time to listen. Because, frankly, there’s no point.

A blogger can have forty times my traffic and still be politically irrelevant. The supposed purpose of political blogs is to exert influence; a good rule of thumb is that if your name isn’t Markos Moulitsas, Josh Marshall, Glenn Reynolds, or Michelle Malkin, you’re failing to do that.

I suspect there’s an underlying “It’s fun” reason for every blogger – it’s certainly there for me. Not being a real masochist, I can’t in good faith call the ritual that is participating in any of a number of low-grade echo chambers as fun. The people who run those echo chambers don’t want discussion; they want fellation. I can understand how the notion I’m willing to do that can arise, since after all I used to be in a fairly long-term online relationship, but I don’t do that anymore; any blogger who wants me to fellate her needs to first know me in real life fairly well.

I could write endless sarcastic posts about the rules of the echo chamber. In their most exaggerated form, they appear as radical pathologies; make no mistake about it, even echo chambers that begin as non-radical invariably radicalize, mostly due to the effect of extremism. But even in their weaker forms, they are deeply pathological, turning serious political and social discussions into exercises in hive formation. Unfortunately, there isn’t much of a market for anti-blogosphere blogging. I still write to an audience.

I’m not doing this because Ilyka Damen is an ageist. I get age-bashed fairly regularly, albeit less than I used to (I attribute that to stopping reading blogs that tolerated that sort of behavior, incidentally). The reason Ilyka got a post of her own is that I decided a fair amount of time ago that I shouldn’t take shit from people just because they publish their bile on blogs I read regularly.

Nor am I doing this strictly because of traffic concerns. That my traffic’s down by a third from a month ago is immaterial; even then it was about two and a half orders of magnitude less than what I needed to make a difference.

To make an understatement, I’m behind on my reading. I should have read 19 books by now in calendar 2007 to be on track to go through 100 books this year; I’ve read 6. But even that isn’t why I’m doing this – I was horribly behind on my reading even when I was on UTI and spent maybe three hours a day on the blogosphere.

It’s not any of those; it’s that there’s no point. Amanda likes to say that she bans people who bore her. I have to take her word for it when she implies that hordes of ideologically uniform commenters don’t bore her. But they bore me. In fact, the only thing more boring than that is what passes for outreach or serious left/right debate, which typically involves regurgitating simplistic talking points or holding pissmatches about non-issues.

On to more practical concerns. I signed as the Carnival of the Godless host this April 1st; I intend to make good on that. Likewise, even if I drop off the blogosphere entirely, I’ll keep managing the Carnival of Mathematics, since if there’s one part of my blog I’m going to keep, it’s the math.

The Galois theory series has about three posts left: compound extensions, including the proof that two Galois extensions of K whose intersection is K are linearly disjoint; roots of unity and cyclotomic extensions; and the original motivation of the theory, solving polynomials by radicals. None of those is terribly important theoretically, not for the level of number theory I’ve written about.

The radical pathologies series is far more incomplete, with six more pathologies to go, including several fairly important ones (namely, paranoia, theoretical thought, and schismaticism). Fortunately, my overview post has some basic outlines on each; the individual posts flesh the arguments out more, but the overview is good enough for a lot of purposes.

I still owe Lynet a clarification on lived experience and everyone a post on Jews and oppressed groups. The latter is probably going to make my next 3QD post, regardless of whether I shut down Abstract Nonsense and withdraw from Appletree or not. The former is going to become a post here, again regardless of this blog’s fate. People who take their time to respond thoughtfully to what I say deserve at least that.

I’m going to keep fleshing out Eternal Night. I haven’t gotten any further responses to it; if it remains that way, I’ll go back and make wholesale changes based solely on the one I’ve received. I started writing it before I had a blog.

And I still have my two email addresses (plus my two university emails), of course. If you want to alert me to a post of yours, or something like that, feel free to use them.

UPDATE: it’s probably worth mentioning that you shouldn’t ask me which blogs I specifically refer to when I attack echo chambers. I’m not going to go into specifics, for reliability reasons. I can think of a few blogs that are clearly white and a few that are clearly black, but there’s a gigantic gray area of blogs I keep changing my mind about based on ephemera; all I know is that the mean remains a very dark shade of gray. But for what it’s worth, if you’re too small to maintain an echo chamber, I’m not talking about you.

Just to be Sure:

March 8, 2007

I hope you’re not letting my less constructive commenters deter you from commenting.

Or, rather, I hope you are and the relative paucity of comments lately is not an indication that I have fewer regular readers.

Name All the Countries

March 7, 2007

You have 10 minutes to name all 192 UN-recognized countries.

I got 154 the first time and 166 the second time; 173 countries I got at least once.

Email Policy

March 6, 2007

Because of the Eternal Night files I’ve sent people, I think now’s a good time to explain my email policy. I will not under any circumstance reproduce an email you send me without your permission. I may use small quotes or talk about the general content, but unless specifically authorized will not associate a name to the content.

The two exceptions to the rule include link-alerting/blogwhoring, in which you send me an email alerting me to a news story or a post of yours, when my standard practice is to hat-tip, and if you post the email in a public place (or if it’s an open letter), in which case it’s like a post on another blog.

As a corollary to that, I tend to keep personal issues personal, unless there’s a very strong overriding interest. The social cue hivemind question is a good example: I didn’t mention anyone’s names, and given that the situation has been resolved peacefully (i.e. it seems like an honest mistake caused by multiple cancellations), I won’t.

Eternal Night Update

March 5, 2007

When I sent version 2 of Eternal Night to Katie, her reaction was, “Your book is killing me.” I asked, “Is it that bad?”; she answered, “yes.” That and the panning that followed pale in comparison to the feedback I’ve received about version 3. So far it’s just one email so other emails may give me more positive feedback, but the one email I’ve gotten is so on target that it’s enough for me to at least start planning major changes.

Because of the likelihood of a version 4 that significantly differs from version 3, I’d rather not send the book to any new takers. If you think you can finish it quickly, I’ll make an exception; I emailed the password to UTI‘s RickU because he promised a timeframe of one week. In case you’re wondering, the book has 90,000 words and should be a fairly easy read.

Alternatively, if you don’t have the time, I’d appreciate feedback about the first three chapters specifically, because they go with an initial query letter while the remaining sixteen don’t.

Normally, I’d rather not prejudice readers to any particular point of view. But the one email I’ve gotten is very powerful and at the same time very constructive, so I don’t mind prejudicing readers against my writing. As I said, I’m willing to go with what I have so far if future feedback is strongly positive, but that will only apply if the feedback is similarly on target.

At any rate, if you don’t know what to look for when telling me how bad I am, ask yourself the following:

1. What do the major characters contribute to the plot and its setting? Here, major characters are those I refer to by first name, i.e. Roger, Ankhi, Gwen, and Khaled. What are their failings? How could I make them more realistic and interesting, if necessary?

2. Does the pacing of the events make sense? This refers both to the 2020 Presidential campaign and the nascent war.

3. What purpose do the various dialogs serve, in particular the debates between Roger and the people he tries to convince to join his cause? Do they overshadow the plot too much? Conversely, do I treat them too lightly?

4. What other books, authors, genres, styles, etc., come to mind when you read EN? For example, do I come off more as an Orwell or as a Heinlein (to me that spans a great deal of writing qualities, and not because I have something against Orwell…)?

Hivemind Social Cue Question

March 4, 2007

Hopefully, at least some of you are better than me at discerning social cues; I’m not sure how to read the following situation.

Suppose that you met a few people socially, and they said something about meeting again tomorrow. Suppose then that the person in charge of the gathering on the next day gave you a time and place, and you showed up with nobody in sight. Okay, you might think, maybe they’re late; but suppose that you ended up sticking around for 45 minutes and calling one of them, the only one you had the phone number of, four times and leaving a message. And Suppose finally that they did in fact end up meeting up, only evidently at another time or place. Would you conclude you’re being deliberately snubbed/ignored?

Eternal Night

March 3, 2007

My book, Eternal Night, is finally edited in such a way that it’s readable. Before I send it to publishers, though, I’d like to run it by anyone here who’s willing to read it and comment on it. Please don’t post it publicly; I want to try publishing it on dead trees. If you think it’s bad, say so. Frankly, I think “You shouldn’t ever write fiction again” is more useful advice than “oh, it’s good” with no specifics.

As a reminder, the plot is about religious nationalism, defined loosely by Dominionism in the US, Islamism in the Islamic world, Hindutva in India, and so on. As Dominionists threaten to win the 2020 Presidential election in the US, in which case they’ll be able to pack the Court and roll bills through an obsequious Congress, the protagonist is drawn into large-scale conspiracies to keep them out of the White House.

This eventually becomes a political pissmatch between a secular liberal and multiple religious fundamentalists attacking him on various grounds… and at the same time, an Islamic superstate and a Catholic one are coalescing in the Middle East and Latin America respectively, and China and India are turning to naked aggression to fulfill their national ambitions.

Any takers?

Sorting Things Out

February 26, 2007

First, I’ve crossposted my post about religion and welfare below to four different blogs: Appletree, What Would Durkheim Do?, 3QuarksDaily, and UTI. I nominated the Appletree version for Skeptics’ Circle, because, really, you can read my study critiques either here or there.

Second, a short list of the posts I owe you guys is,

– My next Galois theory post, about examples of Galois groups;
– A post about Jews and racism, and how Jews were part of the coalition of oppressed American minorities until the 1960s but not afterward;
– A post about education, and in particular why the notion that low-income schools in the US underperform because of administrative problems misses the point;
– The next radical pathology, theoretical thought;
– Possibly a sample chapter or half chapter from my book, which I haven’t edited since the last time I complained on this blog that I should edit it.

And third, Ann’s Weekly Feminist Reader has a story about a bill that’s just cleared committee in Colorado that mandates comprehensive sex education. A few conservative organizations said that this would strip the state of federal funds conditional on teaching abstinence only; one legislator correctly referred to that as blackmail.

Note on Issue Emphasis

February 25, 2007

I reserve the right to choose which issues I care about. If my relative ranking of political issues differs from yours, it’s not generally because I’m an inhuman monster who can’t see the self-evident fact that you’re always right.

Likewise, I reserve the right to choose which issues I blog about. These tend to be the issues I have a comparative advantage in when it comes to both care and knowledge. As such, the issues I care about the most in politics – those related to fascism as defined by extreme cultural conservatism, warmongering, and a surveillance state – may not be those I devote the most time to.

For example, take Iraq. Among all hot topic in American politics, it’s the fourth I care about most. But in blogging time it’s far behind, because there are a million other blogs devoted to the issue, which offer news and analysis superior to anything I might come up with.

If you don’t like my issue emphasis, tough. You can try convincing me to care about your pet issue more, but you can’t make me more informed about it, or give me comparative advantage over the bloggers in my social network. If you don’t think there’s any blog that caters to your interests, start your own. You don’t need to be a good writer to succeed; if success had anything to do with writing skills, Daily Kos and Majikthise’s traffics would be switched.

Carnival Announcements

February 24, 2007

The March 1st edition of Help Us Help Ourselves will be posted on Feministe; submit your posts by comment- or trackback-spamming Jill’s announcement post.

The 55th meeting of the Skeptics’ Circle will be posted in five days on The Second Sight. Submit your woo-debunking to EoR by email.

My Name isn’t Olivia, but Still

February 23, 2007

One Jewish Dyke has an A-Z meme that attracts me because it asks questions I’d rather not answer in addition to the usual trivial stuff. She didn’t tag me, unless she thinks my name is Olivia, but still, here it goes:

Accent: nondescriptly foreign, more European than Asian.

Bible book that I like: none of them, but Joshua is useful when talking to an ignoramus who thinks the Qur’an is the only pro-mass murder scripture.

Chore I don’t care for: cleaning my room.

Dog or cat: neither.

Essential electronics: laptop.

Favorite cologne: I’m sufficiently out of the loop on anything related to beautification that I don’t even know which genders are supposed to wear it.

Gold or silver: I like the color silver more, but I’m not going to put money into either.

Handbag: what handbag?

Insomnia: only when I direly need to wake up in time the next day.

Job title: teaching assistant (I’m only actually TAing starting this May, but the department calls everyone a teaching assistant so that first-years can get a social security number, which I still haven’t gotten).

Kids: I don’t have any, thank the FSM.

Living arrangements: a single room in a hybrid of a four-bedroom apartment and a dorm.

Most admirable trait: intelligence.

Naughtiest childhood behavior: having ridiculous superhero fantasies.

Overnight hospital stays: I think I had one when I was 2.

Phobias: none I know of.

Quote: “Facts may be on the liberals’ side, but God is on ours!” (this predates Colbert, I should add).

Religion: semi-practicing Pastafarian.

Siblings: one sister who’s turning 14 the day of the third Carnival of Mathematics.

Time I wake up: between 7 and 3, usually somewhere in the middle.

Unusual talent or skill: mathematical ability.

Vegetable I refuse to eat: I don’t eat most vegetables, but tomatoes deserve singular mention.

Worst trait: chronic lack of social skills.

X-rays: when I was 11, my right pinky suffered trauma that may or may not have included dislocation and/or a broken bone, and that required an X-ray.

Yummy stuff I cook: see “living arrangements” above and draw your own conclusions.

Zoo animal I like the most: elephants, maybe.

In Which I Get Pessimistic About the Blogosphere

February 22, 2007

Bruce has an excellent post about the Democratic blogosphere, the traditional media, and the Plame pseudo-scandal (I can’t bring myself to calling it a scandal). His contention is that Washington insiders have the mentality of an upper class clique that concentrates more on developing a powerful social network rather than on showing off as people do in Beverly Hills.

So of course it’s reasonable to expect that if Vice-President Cheney and Scooter Libby dropped the dime on Valerie Plame to slap and humiliate her and her husband, or lied about hearing it from Russert first, or whatever, the entire Washington culture is likely to take care of this matter as an in-house issue. Not something to be handled by some sawed-off arrogant former mob prosecutor from Chicago. Special U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is not part of their world. Neither are the vulgar, keyboard-punching activists with strange names like “Emptywheel” and “Atrios” and “Majikthise.” The contempt dripping from George Will and Cokie Roberts in their various discussions of the blogosphere as a concept – not for specific things said or done by specific bloggers, but its very existence as a hated, hostile phenomenon – is amazing, and deserves a full post in its own right. They have their culture, and they handle things their way. The U.S. Code and the FBI be damned; if the Washington insiders do it, then it is not illegal.

My pessimism is derived from the fact that the same mentality holds in various sections of the blogosphere. The big Democratic and even liberal bloggers protect their own: this doesn’t apply so much to pundits like Ezra and Matthew Yglesias or outsiders like Amanda, but the Kos-MyDD-Atrios-FDL landmass is nothing if not a clique.

First, its organizational structure isn’t that different from this of a shrunk version of the right-wing political machine. Each blogger has a specific role in the left-wing blogospheric machine – Josh Marshall is the mainstream media contact, Jane Hamsher is the shrill talk radio host, Atrios is the news breaker, the people on Kos decide what issues everyone should care about, and the people on MyDD decide party strategy. The role of Daily Kos is singularly important, because other bloggers really do internalize what Kos declares to be real issues.

The most worrying thing is the blogosphere’s total ineptitude when it comes to taking on the Democratic establishment. The Lamont gambit was understandable; there was a serious chance Lamont could defeat Lieberman, making the Senate more anti-war. But once Lamont’s defeat made it clear that there was no point in spending energies on defeating conservative Democrats, the left-wing blogosphere should have moved on.

Instead, it decided to take on Ellen Tauscher. Beyond the knee-jerk sympathy every non-heartless person should have with anyone Firedoglake attacks with analogies to prostitution, it’s the height of wankery to go after someone whose main crime is being a DLC member and trumpeting bipartisanship. Kos says that since 58% of the people in her district voted for Kerry she could be replaced by a more liberal Representative, but given that Connecticut, where 54% of the voters supported Kerry, reelected Lieberman by a safe margin, Kos is likely dead wrong.

The online communities that prop up the Democratic blogosphere bear a striking resemblence to Washington as Bruce describes it. They feature a lot of at least upper middle class people: lawyers, tech writers, economists, and so on. Even the less well-off people, like Ezra or Lindsay or me, are more young than poor. I may have a $23,000/year income, but anyone who describes me as a working class person is an idiot (for one, I don’t work, as my posting frequency indicates…).

That, and every longlasting forum I’ve posted to has had cliquish tendencies. It’s perfectly fine when it’s a community of 15 people exchanging jokes and bitter articles about Bush’s stupidity, but when it’s a community of A-list bloggers who comprise a significant portion of the Democratic base, something is wrong. In the closest thing the Democratic blogosphere has had to a scandal, it indeed viewed it as an internal matter. Every time feminists criticized Kos for engaging in sexist behavior, he scorned them as outsiders not worthy of his attention; the one female blogger who publicly snubbed those feminists, Jane Hamsher, is the one the A-listers showered with links to make her one of their own.

Finally, as the Commissar notes, the Democratic blogosphere has certain control issues. I appreciate Kos’s sentiments in calling for “50 demerits” for any Democrat who participates in a Fox-organized Democratic Presidential debate, but seriously, he’s only justifying the epithet “nutroots.” In 1976, 1980, and 1984, the Presidential debates were hosted by the liberal League of Women Voters; what’s wrong with letting Fox host a primary debate?

My main fear is that the Democratic blogosphere will eventually evolve into a left-wing noise machine. I appreciate shifting the center to the left in the US, but as with the rise of the right-wing noise machine, a lot of important issues will be ignored or subverted. Cultural issues are already being tossed away, as the Democrats are inviting Dominionists like Jim Wallis into their ranks. Civil liberties and foreign policy will likely follow once the Democrats return to the White House.

Carnivalia, and Open Thread

February 15, 2007

The 32nd Carnival of the Liberals is up on The Greenbelt (and my post didn’t make it); the next edition will be posted on Blue Gal on February 28th. The highlights are, I think, Reality-Based Government and The Problem with Detention without Trial.

Class-A blog whore Martin Rundkvist has posted his edition of the Carnival of History. The next edition will be posted on History is Elementary on 3/1.

The 54th Skeptics’ Circle is up on Action Skeptics; the next edition will be posted on 3/1 on The Second Sight.

On a semi-related note, PZ’s started an Order of the Molly award, given to the best commenter in the middle of each month. The commenters choose a distinguished commenter, who receives recognition from the blogger himself. If this blog ever gets to the size of Pharyngula or Pandagon or even Majikthise, I promise to promote every regular commenter’s blog.

Also, remember that the next Carnival of the Godless is up on Manifold Fates (whichseems to be down) on Sunday the 18th, and the next Carnival of Mathematics is up on Good Math, Bad Math on Friday the 23rd.

Lessons from Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2007

In the future, I’ll try modeling my relationships on the following observations from days like Valentine’s:

1. There’s a pandemic virus that blooms only 2/14 and destroys every relationship, unless it’s treated with cordiform chocolate.

2. Flowers are a convenient way of expressing anything without having to go through the trouble of saying it in a touching and intelligent way.

3. The reproductive organs of plants are an aphrodisiac. Those of animals are disgusting.

4. Buying your partner gifts on any of 364 days of the year is optional. Buying gifts on one specific day is mandatory.

Yearly Kos Update

February 11, 2007

I said I’m going to book reservations on 2/13, the day after I get a new debit card. I got one today, but I’ll still wait till the 13th to see if I get any room-sharing offers. If I don’t, I’ll go ahead and book flights on the 1st and 5th, so that if you want to stay more than the four nights of the convention you’ll have to pay for some of them in full.

Maryland Blog Shout

February 6, 2007

SoapBlox is a community of progressive blogs including many state-based ones – e.g. New York’s is The Albany Project. However, Maryland isn’t one of the states included, and now that Bruce is looking to expand to a diary-based system, he’s looking for someone to run a Maryland chapter of Daily Kos.

This puts me in an peculiar spot. I would like to see a Maryland Scoop-based site develop for the purpose of liberal community building. I would like to participate in such a blog as a regular commentator, cross-posting my material there as appropriate. On the other hand, if such a progressive Scoop-site blog is not going to be formed, I would like to make Crablaw Maryland Weekly into a Scoop site to allow commentators – predominantly left-libertarian but NOT exclusively so – to post diaries routinely and to allow a formal comment ranking, etc.

What I don’t want to do is to restructure my site to Scoop at considerable effort only to wind up competing with a Maryland Scoop site run as a progressive community center. I also don’t want to shoehorn Crablaw into being that progressive community center. I respect the progressive firebrands at MyDD, but stand to their ideological right on many money issues to some extent. Essentially, I wish not to attempt to be a Maryland-based, Scoop-platform MyDD “mentee” site nor to compete with such a Maryland site.

Although the system he’s mentioning is Scoop, people without the technical knowledge necessary to operate it can use Soapblox or, if they don’t mind unreliable databases, the even simpler Drupal, which powers UTI. I was going to use Soapblox for this site back when I toyed with the idea of having my own web address; I might even switch to it if my traffic gets high enough, or if my book gets published.

Yearly Kos Matters

February 4, 2007

I lost my debit card sometime this weekend. I’m getting a new one by 2/12; on 2/13, I’m reserving a flight to Chicago and back and a hotel room at the ridiculously expensive Hyatt Regency. If anyone’s looking for a roommate, give me a shout and we’ll work something out.

In the unlikely case I get two emails and don’t respond to the first before reading the second, priority will be given to under-18 people who need someone over 18 to check them in. People shouldn’t have to wait until about a week and a half before the convention to get a confirmation that they can make it the way I did last year.