(Just for fun, from out of my NCOBrief archives, an essay from July, 2010.)
You know, out of all of the things that I was afraid might happen, after the presidential coronation of Obama, the Fresh Prince of Chicago . . . I never considered that race relations might be one of those things which would worsen. Hey – lots of fairly thoughtful and well-intentioned people of pallor voted for him, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, or at least in some expectation of him being a fairly well adjusted and centrist politician, or at least a fast learner. Wasn’t that what all the top pundits, and the mainstream media were insisting, all during the 2008 campaign . . . well, once they got up from their knees and wiped the drool off their chins.
Read the rest of this entry »
Archive for the 'Blogging' Category
(Just for fun, from out of my NCOBrief archives, an essay from July, 2010.)
Google is killing Reader as part of a spring cleaning ritual where products with little following are sacrificed:
We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites. While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined.
Finding a Reader replacement is complicated by why Reader’s usage declined: those who used newsfeed readers to follow blogs and other web syndicated content now use “social media” like Facebook, Twitter, or even iTunes. A small minority even use Google Plus, Google’s most recent try at “social media”.
I have been working with blogs and blog-like technology for many years. The transformation of the tools in terms of cost, ease of use, and capabilities has been amazing to watch.
We have blogs on the “blogger” platform run by Google and the “wordpress” platform, which can either be self-hosted or run on the wordpress.com free sites (you get ads in some of your posts, and can pay a bit more to have those ads removed).
Regardless of the usefulness and / or future of the blogging format, here are some of the advantages that have come up over the last 10 or so years in terms of technology, cost, ease of use, and capabilities:
1. Cost – the software has always been free from either Blogger (Google) or Word Press (Open Source). However, many people chose to self-host for many reasons, and the cost of hosting has gone down dramatically over the years. The “free” alternatives are also extremely robust
2. Performance – the performance of the sites have exponentially increased in terms of speed, although it is difficult to quantify the differences in terms of the general increase in overall processing speed (bandwidth) on the part of the consumer as well as the provider, which is also tied to the reduced cost / MB of a high speed connection
3. Stability – Stability used to be wobbly on some of the sites, particularly from the administrative perspective. We used to have to save our posts all the time in case the site crashed, and fixing items like categories / tags used to be a lot of effort and painstaking. Many of these problems seemed to have gone away or are significantly reduced on the major platforms
4. Features – Many, many things you’d want a blog to do are built in. Not just the traditional items like links, categories, tags, photos, polls, but also more exotic items like linking to different media and different sorts of geographic data. Advertising is also built in, but since we don’t advertise, I’m not an expert in this, although I assume this is crucial to many people
5. Coding – you used to need to know some HTML or other languages in order to work effectively with blogs or to deploy the most advanced features, but since many of those capabilities are now built into the tool, this is less important or hardly needed at all
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by Lexington Green on 23rd February 2013 (All posts by Lexington Green)
3D printers, driverless cars, nanotech: the 21st century looks to be even more different from the 20th century than the 20th was from the 19th. American politics and institutions are going to change much more rapidly than most pundits and politicos can yet understand.
This quote is uncannily congruent the argument of the forthcoming book, America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century – Why America’s Greatest Days Are Yet to Come by Jim Bennett and me.
Walter Russell Mead’s wicked good blog Via Meadia has many posts which track closely with the arguments Jim and I are making. I am sure all this great material will end up in a forthcoming book by him about the demise of the Blue Model (a term he invented) and what is coming next.
I am going to shamelessly recycle this: “the 21st century looks to be even more different from the 20th century than the 20th was from the 19th.” This is a very pithy observation which captures our vision of America 3.0, which of course we cannot really predict with a lot of detail. As Bruce Sterling wisely said:
Nothing obsolesces like “the future.” Nothing burns out quite so quickly as a high tech avant-garde. Technology doesn’t glide into the streamlined world of tomorrow. It jolts and limps, all crutches and stilts, just like its ancient patron, the god Hephaestos.
Still, we have to imagine the future, not so we will be correct then, but so we can plan, think, and act now. We also have to imagine the future so we don’t think today’s setbacks, as serious as they may be, are the apocalypse. Everyone reading this will be dead in 100 years, but our descendants will be alive, and they will have in part what we passed on to them. They will see us as living in a patch of history with a label and summed up in a few paragraphs. This is a phase, as is every other period in history.
I will confidently predict, as Mead does, that the pace of change will be faster than ever before. Moore’s Law will be in force for a long time to come, I hope.
What is particularly cool about the Mead quote, almost suggesting some kind of brain-meld via the astral plane between Mead and Bennett-Lotus, is the reference to “3D printers, driverless cars, nanotech” — each of these figure prominently in our first Chapter, America in 2040. One muse, three authors?
If you have not read Mead’s two excellent books Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World and God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World you must do so. Get them soon, so you are done before our book comes out May 28, 2013.
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 18th February 2013 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
Very little attention is being paid to the holiday today, except as a traffic annoyance. When I was a child, we still celebrated Lincoln’s birthday (February 12) and Washington’s birthday (February 22). Since the holidays were combined and made into a long weekend, like most other American holidays, interest has declined in the subject. It has been for many years the weekend of the Midwinter yacht races in southern California, so I enjoyed it as much as anyone.
Amity Schlaes’ new biography of Coolidge, which has been delayed for nearly a year from the original date promised, is now out and I have begun reading it. It has also attracted a hostile review in the New York Times by Jacob Heilbrunn author of such profound works as God Bless Bernie Sanders, an encomium on the Socialist Senator from the “people’s republic of Vermont”, as it is known in New Hampshire, and another tiresome attack on Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife.
Mr Heilbrunn does not seem to be an economist and I am not certain of his qualifications to criticize President Coolidge, other than the obvious invitation by the New York Times.
James Ceaser, a political scientist at the University of Virginia and a regular contributor to The Weekly Standard, said it was important to revive the “moral stigma” of debt, and added, “I want to go back to Coolidge and even McKinley.” The Claremont fellow Charles Kesler, author of “I Am the Change,” a recent book denouncing President Obama and liberalism, agreed: “We’re in for a Coolidge revival.”
Indeed we are. Coolidge was a figure of sport in his own era. H. L. Mencken mocked his daily naps — “Nero fiddled, but Coolidge only snored” — and Dorothy Parker reportedly asked, “How could they tell?” when his death was announced. But such quips have only heightened the determination of a growing contingent of Coolidge buffs to resurrect him. They abhor the progressive tradition among Democrats (Woodrow Wilson) and Republicans (Theodore Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover) as hostile to big business and prosperity. Instead, their aim is to spread the austere doctrine of what might be called Republican Calvinism.
Posted in Big Government, Biography, Blogging, Book Notes, Business, Civil Society, Conservatism, Coolidge, Economics & Finance, History, Holidays, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics | 9 Comments »
These are all excellent bloggers and well worth bookmarking and regularly reading.
Blondie and I hit Sam’s Club last weekend for some holiday oddities and endities, and as we were heading out to the parking lot, Blondie remarked that everyone seemed rather … subdued. I couldn’t really see that the other customers were any more depressed than usual, wheeling around great trollies piled full of case-lots and mass quantities than any other Sunday, as I am still trying to throw the Cold From Hell – now in it’s third week of making me sound as if I am about to hack up half a lung. But that is just me – good thing I work at home, the commute is a short stagger to my desk, where I do the absolute minimum necessary for the current project, and another stagger back to to bed, take some Tylenol, suck on a cough drop and go back to sleep for several hours. The cats like this program, by the way – a warm human to curl up close to, on these faintly chill December days. Read the rest of this entry »
Here’s a screen shot of a post at Instapundit. See if you can spot any differences between the current post and the screenshot.
That took me literally five seconds to alter.
I use an organization/document-management app for the Mac called DevonThink Pro. The app has many supporting scripts to capture information from various sources. Today, I learned of one called “Make Editable” a bookmarklet script for Safari and Firefox. When activated, it switches the browser page into developer mode that allows the editing of the original page right in the browser window.
One of my older relatives once explained why he didn’t play poker. He’d done so when he was in the army but stopped as soon as he came out. His reason? He said, “I enjoyed it too much.”
He wisely recognized that it’s the things you really enjoy that can do you damage. There is no “hitting-myself-in-the-head-with-a-hammer anonymous” but there are 12-step and rehab programs for almost any conceivable overindulged pleasure . If you don’t discipline yourself, pleasurable activities create a dangerous feedback loop that can lead you down an implosive spiral.
I really like blogging and picking fights on the internet.
Posted by Margaret on 17th July 2012 (All posts by Margaret)
My name is Margaret Ball, and I’ve been invited to blog here through an old high school friend, David Foster, who made the highly debatable assumption that having had a number of novels published demonstrates writing ability. We’ll see how that turns out.
My husband’s name is Steve Zoraster, and we’re both semi-retired; living in a very liberal neighborhood of a very liberal city; and making bets on how soon our Romney sign is going to be yanked out of the front yard.
This blog has been around for many years and there’s a lot of gold buried in the archives. The problem is that the state of the art in blogging software doesn’t make it easy to find older content. You can sort of search by category or you can google keywords but these are very crude and imprecise ways to do what should be easy.
This problem afflicts most established blogs. There is no reason — other than the arbitrary limitations of the journal format used by blogging software — for it to be difficult to find specific content. We’re not kids discussing our social lives. The contributors here post serious work and much of it remains worth reading years after it was written. The journal format is inadequate.
Recently I visited a brand new, multi-story Walgreens in the heart of Chicago. The entire store was bustling with customers purchasing everything from makeup to greeting cards to alcohol to sushi. And the loneliest part of the store… the “newsstand”.
As someone who grew up with the idea that writing, literature, newspapers and discussion of the above was a part of the civic fabric, like exiled writers in twentieth century Paris, the deadness of this scene confirms that these are past dreams gone for good. Today none of these things would happen tied to newspapers or a newsstand; maybe at a Starbucks? I think not.
Read the rest of this entry »
Well, no one ever really considered our family or anyone in it as cutting-edge … although it might be fairly argued that we were mosying so slowly along behind everyone else in our practices and preferences that the cutting-edge, tres-up to the minute actually came around full circle in the last half-decade and caught up to us at last. Home-made everything, home vegetable garden, chores for children, no television, tidy small houses and abstention from debt of every sort, from student to credit-card … an enthusiasm for all such things are now apparently trendy and forward-thinking.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by Charles Cameron on 14th June 2012 (All posts by Charles Cameron)
[ cross-posted from Zenpundit — Farrall and McCants, debate and discourse]
There’s a whole lot to be learned about jihad, counter-terrorism, scholarship, civil discourse, online discourse, and social media, and I mean each and every one of those, in a debate that took place recently, primarily between Leah Farrall and Will McCants.
Indeed, Leah still has a final comment to make — and when she makes it, that may be just the end of round one, if I may borrow a metaphor from a tweet I’ll quote later.
Briefly, the biographies of the two main agonists (they can’t both be protagonists, now, can they? I believe agonist is the right word):
Dr. Leah Farrall (left, above) is a Research Associate at the University of Sydney’s United States Studies Centre (USSC). She was formerly a senior Counter Terrorism Intelligence Analyst with the Australian Federal Police (AFP), and the AFP’s al Qaeda subject matter specialist. She was also senior Intelligence Analyst in the AFP’s Jakarta Regional Cooperation Team (JRCT) in Indonesia and at the AFP’s Forward Operating Post in response to the second Bali bombings. Leah has provided national & international counter terrorism training & curriculum development. She recently changed the name of her respected blog. Her work has been published in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, and elsewhere.
Dr. William McCants, (right) is a research analyst at the Center for Strategic Studies at CNA, and adjunct faculty at Johns Hopkins University. He has served as Senior Adviser for Countering Violent Extremism at the U.S. Department of State, program manager of the Minerva Initiative at the Department of Defense, and fellow at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center. He edited the Militant Ideology Atlas, co-authored Stealing Al Qa’ida’s Playbook, and translated Abu Bakr Naji‘s Management of Savagery. Will has designed curricula on jihadi-inspired terrorism for the FBI. He is the founder and co-editor of the noted blog, Jihadica. He too has been published in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic and elsewhere.
Here’s another graphic based on data from the survey run by BlogAds click here to see their discussion) that I discussed in my earlier posts:
The differences in opinion between the self-identified liberals and conservatives aren’t surprising but the magnitudes of the differences are.
I suggested to the BlogAds representative who told me about the survey that BlogAds should make the data set publicly available. We’ll see if they do, though it may be that most of the meaningful information is already shown in the graphics that BlogAds has provided.
(Chicago Boyz is a BlogAds affiliate.)
Now there’s an updated graphic from BlogAds, based on data from the same survey, providing information about liberal/conservative blog readers’ positions on some questions that weren’t addressed in the initial survey report:
There certainly are some strong patterns here, not that this comes as a shock to anyone. (Of course my caveat about self-selected data samples applies to these results as it did to the initial results.)
(Chicago Boyz is a BlogAds affiliate.)
There are many blogging tools to use; over at LITGM we use “Blogger” which is owned by Google (and free) and over at Chicago Boyz and at other sites we use Word Press. Many of the up and coming sites are now on Tumblr, which looks pretty much like another blogging platform to me.
There was a Louis CK sketch where he talks about how amazing it is to fly on an airplane and connect to the Internet and all the things we take for granted while everyone whines about it. I felt the same way as I started to look at some of the new technologies available under Blogger.
Blogger just rolled out “dynamic views”. I am not a blogging technical expert but in laymans’ terms, you get a lot of real estate back that is taken up with static page elements like the blogroll on the side and post categories and comments. When you hover your cursor over these items, they “pop up” (dynamically) and then you can click on them if you wish else they don’t take up space otherwise.
Another advantage is that they load up your blog when you turn it on (you see the Blogger “gears” running) and then you can view it a bunch of different ways, from a “classic” view to a “magazine” view or “flip card” which is cool if you have a lot of photos because you can see them at a glance and click to get at the post underneath.
Like everything else, they are trying to get the bugs out at Blogger. When they initially rolled it out, you couldn’t see items like your blogroll / links because those “widgets” didn’t work with dynamic views. Some super-technical web nerds could make it work but the average person wouldn’t unless they wanted to hack html code. There are sites and message boards out there with many comments bemoaning the new technology and what is lacking but of course Google has added many of these widgets back so that they now work with dynamic views and at least you can see comments and labels (basically their version of tags or categories).
I turned “the most important site on the internet” Drunk Bear Fans into a dynamic views site and it is pretty cool. Since there is more page real estate (the tabs on the side only pop out when you hover over them) I was able to make the pictures bigger and I also did some other housecleaning. This is more of a test bed than LITGM so I will keep working over there until it is ready for “prime time” and then maybe we will kick over LITGM, too. For now we are looking at the header because you still have to work on that in html to get the great pictures up there that Gerry inserts but I am sure one of the tech guys at Google is working on that in a frenzy and that will be in some upcoming version.
It is simply amazing how far the technology has come on blogging and web development FOR FREE. Dan was chuckling at how much just the hard drive would have cost back when we were in college 20+ years ago to store the pictures, movies and other elements associated with a site like LITGM, which also is free along with all the development time Google has put into this platform (plus the fact that they bought the company that made the original technology in the first place).
I was in the dot.com “boom” era in the early 2000’s in the middle of all the companies that imploded. I can tell you first-hand that building a site that a 10 year old could do with dynamic views would have cost millions and millions of dollars, and it would have crawled. The cloud based infrastructure that these sites use and the power of the tools that they give developers and non-developers alike FOR FREE is amazing. For a couple of minutes it is worth stepping back and reflecting on that. Then back to complaining about everything, just like Louis CK says.
Cross posted at LITGM
The results of a survey of blog readers taken by the BlogAds company. (Some of the survey questions are still running in the upper left sidebar of Chicago Boyz.) The people who responded to the survey are self-selected and it’s not clear how big the sample is, but the results are interesting and worth a click.
(Chicago Boyz is a BlogAds affiliate, in case this is not obvious.)
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 7th April 2012 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
A favorite writer, usually seen at National Review but widely published, has created a firestorm of political correctness by an article he wrote for another magazine. John Derbyshire is a mathematician and curmudgeon of the satiric variety. I think I have read all of his books, several of which are not an easy read. His We Are Doomed had me laughing so hard I cried. My review is here.
His current outrage is to have said “There is a talk that nonblack Americans have with their kids, too. My own kids, now 19 and 16, have had it in bits and pieces as subtopics have arisen. If I were to assemble it into a single talk, it would look something like the following.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
(1) Among your fellow citizens are forty million who identify as black, and whom I shall refer to as black. The cumbersome (and MLK-noncompliant) term “African-American” seems to be in decline, thank goodness. “Colored” and “Negro” are archaisms. What you must call “the ‘N’ word” is used freely among blacks but is taboo to nonblacks.
(2) American blacks are descended from West African populations, with some white and aboriginal-American admixture. The overall average of non-African admixture is 20-25 percent. The admixture distribution is nonlinear, though: “It seems that around 10 percent of the African American population is more than half European in ancestry.” (Same link.)
(3) Your own ancestry is mixed north-European and northeast-Asian, but blacks will take you to be white.
Derbyshire’s wife is Chinese and his kids are mixed race Chinese-Caucasion
(4) The default principle in everyday personal encounters is, that as a fellow citizen, with the same rights and obligations as yourself, any individual black is entitled to the same courtesies you would extend to a nonblack citizen. That is basic good manners and good citizenship. In some unusual circumstances, however—e.g., paragraph (10h) below—this default principle should be overridden by considerations of personal safety.
(5) As with any population of such a size, there is great variation among blacks in every human trait (except, obviously, the trait of identifying oneself as black). They come fat, thin, tall, short, dumb, smart, introverted, extroverted, honest, crooked, athletic, sedentary, fastidious, sloppy, amiable, and obnoxious. There are black geniuses and black morons. There are black saints and black psychopaths. In a population of forty million, you will find almost any human type. Only at the far, far extremes of certain traits are there absences. There are, for example, no black Fields Medal winners. While this is civilizationally consequential, it will not likely ever be important to you personally. Most people live and die without ever meeting (or wishing to meet) a Fields Medal winner.
So far, despite the outrage, this seems pretty benign to me. (Probably evidence of my own racism)
Here comes trouble:
(7) Of most importance to your personal safety are the very different means for antisocial behavior, which you will see reflected in, for instance, school disciplinary measures, political corruption, and criminal convictions.
He is writing about means but few readers made that distinction and many may have no idea what a “mean “is.
Read the rest of this entry »
Services for Captain Carroll LeFon…Neptunus Lex…were held Tuesday March 26 at Fort Rosencrans…I wasn’t there, but a large number of Lex’s blogfriends were present in addition to his family, colleagues, and real-life friends. The flyover was, appropriately, by a U.S. Navy F-18 and an ATAC Kfir.
I will be there, in spirit… Not as an eagle, but as a badger
Many people have written tributes to Lex on their own blogs. Fuzzybear Lioness reposted a piece she wrote in 2008, on the occasion of Lex’s retirement from the Navy, in which she describes getting to know the Captain via blog and email and later meeting him in person. Well worth reading. Also, someone found a “Friday Musings” post from a few years back featuring Lex himself, on video.
My own selection of favorite Lex posts can be found here.
A new blog, The Lexicans, has been formed in order to continue the great community that grew up at Neptunus Lex. Hopefully all Lexicans and recent Lex-discoverers will check it out. And I understand that the U.S. Naval Institute plans to publish in book form “Rhythms,” Lex’s book-in-progress about life on an aircraft carrier, and possibly the blog itself as well.
It was a pleasure reading you and learning from you, Lex, and it was an honor to be listed as a “Wingman” on your blogroll.
Posted by Lexington Green on 10th March 2012 (All posts by Lexington Green)
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
and the hunter home from he hill.
Lex was a sailor, and F-18 pilots are hunters, so it fits.
Rest in peace.
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 23rd February 2012 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
I couldn’t figure out how to post these in comments so here are a couple of photos of my family in Athens. We loved it and would like to go back. I envy Sgt Mom her experience.
Here is is one view of the Plaka and the tourists- Cindy and Annie (at age 14.)
I think kids benefit from travel and especially from prolonged stays in other countries. That doesn’t necessarily qualify them to be president.
The wit and wisdom of Cassandra has returned to the Internet.
Temporarily, at least…I see that she still has her notice that “you have reached a blog that has been disconnected or is no longer in service” up on the masthead. Maybe if we all clap our hands, she will stick around. It worked for Tinkerbell, after all.
In a previous post, I asked a question about leverages in terms of foreign policy:
A key–an essential–question on leverages at Abu Muqawama (Dr. Andrew Exum):
Where things get tricky is when one tries to decide what to do about that. The principle problem is one that has been in my head watching more violent crackdowns in Bahrain and Egypt: the very source of U.S. leverage against the regimes in Bahrain and Egypt is that which links the United States to the abuses of the regime in the first place. So if you want to take a “moral” stand against the abuses of the regime in Bahrain and remove the Fifth Fleet, congratulations! You can feel good about yourself for about 24 hours — or until the time you realize that you have just lost the ability to schedule a same-day meeting with the Crown Prince to press him on the behavior of Bahrain’s security forces. Your leverage, such as it was, has just evaporated. The same is true in Egypt. It would feel good, amidst these violent clashes between the Army and protesters, to cut aid to the Egyptian Army. But in doing so, you also reduce your own leverage over the behavior of the Army itself.
Okay, so we have leverage with an Army cracking down on its own people, an Army fattened on US military aid and training. I thought bilateral military training was supposed to mitigate the worst instincts of some armies? Isn’t that the theory? What does it mean to have leverage? To what end? To what purpose? I don’t know the answer and I don’t think anyone does, so Dr. Exum has a point. We have no strategy (link goes to Zen) within which to place “trade offs”. Well, if we do, I can’t see it.
Greg Scoblete at The Compass (RealClearWorld) asks the question in a much better fashion (I enjoy reading that blog, whether I agree or disagree with specific points):
But all of this begs an important question – leverage for what? The idea is that the U.S. invests in places like Bahrain and Egypt because it needs or wants something in return. During the Cold War, it was keeping these states out of the Soviet orbit. In the 1990s and beyond, it was ensuring these states remained friendly with Israel and accommodative to U.S. military power in the region. Today, what? What is it that U.S. policy requires from Egypt and Bahrain that necessitates supporting these regimes during these brutal crack downs?
How should we view American policy toward the Middle East? What is the larger strategic framework within which we ought to view the various relationships? What is the optimal posture for the United States? Folks, I don’t know. I’d love to know your opinions on the subject.
Posted in Blogging, History, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Military Affairs, Morality and Philosphy, Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Politics, Russia, Society, Terrorism, United Nations, USA, War and Peace | 8 Comments »