Archive for the 'Blogging' Category
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.
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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.
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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.
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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 »
Curiously for a sometime political animal, I was not all that wrapped up in the Iowa caucus. There are several reasons for that; one of them being that I just think it is a waste of emotional energy picking a favorite too early, another being that in the words of old Bobby Bare song “No matter how good they look at first, There’s flaws in all of them. That’s why on a scale of ten to one, friend – There ain’t no ten!” They’re human, every one of them – and every damn one has flaws, which will be put under a magnifying glass. Those who have been under a magnifying glass will have the magnification dialed up by a magnitude of a hundred, though.
Cross-posted from zenpundit.com
Time for a bit of lighthearted, blogging fun.
I spend a lot of time reading and writing and I do so primarily within a specific environment – my home office. The space reflects the man, to some degree.
Surveying my office space here at home, I noticed that my desk has begun, like a coral reef, to accrete various objects, oddments and curious like a layer of bric-a-brac sediment. Some objects change, others stay forever. Exclusive of papers, books, printers and a computer, here’s what my desk holds:
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Canon products seem to be on sale these days. I don’t know if that’s because business is slow or if dealers are clearing out inventory before new models come in but there is some kind of big sale going on. If you want to buy a new Canon camera or lens now is a good time. I have experience with the following Canon cameras and recommend them:
This Canon PowerShot is a great deal and a good choice if you are looking for a gift or inexpensive, compact camera. You can buy them now for as low as $110 (the price seems to vary with color) from Amazon by clicking the link above. I mention this because I bought one of these cameras as a gift a few months ago at a higher price and wasn’t dissatisfied. It’s a decent camera, simple to use. It does not seem to allow manual operation, if that matters to you. There are some negative reviews on Amazon but the camera seems fine to me, and at the current price you can’t go wrong.
This higher-end Canon PowerShot is being sold for $230, today only. The current going rate is around $300. There’s a new model (S100) coming out that should be better, but it costs a couple of hundred more and is not widely available yet. The S95 is popular with photo enthusiasts and gets good reviews. I’ve tried one but didn’t use it extensively; it seemed excellent for a point and shoot. As with the camera I discussed above, at this price you can’t go wrong (I ordered one).
[UPDATE: As soon as I posted this it became clear that the $230 price is no longer available. Sorry about that. It looks like Amazon sold out at the sale price. It is possible that Amazon will have more of these cameras available at the low price, so if you're interested it might make sense to check back later today and perhaps during the coming weeks. This price seems to come and go. I suspect it will come back eventually, if only as the new model becomes available.]
The Canon 5D Mark II is one of the best high-end DSLRs, certainly the best bang for the buck, and it’s being sold at its lowest price ever. This camera + lens kit is the way to go if you don’t already have Canon lenses. The 24-105mm lens that comes with the kit is a very high quality pro-level zoom that is excellent for general photography, and you get a great deal on it if you buy it as a kit with the camera body. And the current Amazon price for these kits is $500 less than they were going for a few months ago.
(The camera body alone is also being discounted, but not by as much (the price for the body is slightly cheaper at B&H, which is a very good place to buy photo equipment). UPDATE: The Canon 5D Mark II body is available from B&H for $1999.95, including a memory card and some software, by clicking this link.
Many of the popular Canon DSLR lenses are also on sale at very good prices.
To paraphrase a great man, Chicago Boyz earns referral fees at no cost to you if you buy anything on Amazon via our links. Even if you have no interest in cameras but you want to buy books, tools, underwear, or anything else, as long as you enter Amazon’s site by clicking on one of our Amazon links we will get a cut. Thanks.
I’ve long been kicking around the notion of a German translation of my books, especially the Adelsverein Trilogy – since that story has to do with German immigrants to the Texas frontier, and the Wild, Wild West as a concept is madly popular in Germany, and has been so for decades, if not centuries. Yeah, I know – weird concept, but it is true. I’ve fielded the occasional email from readers asking if there were such, as they have friends who don’t speak English but would just love-love-love to read the Trilogy in German. Early on, I had kind of hoped that I would get some interest from a German publishing house wanting to clean up from all those Karl May fans, but that hasn’t happened, not so far.
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We live in a fairly OK suburban neighborhood on the north-east side of town – working class to middle-class, well-kept small house, with lots of military and retired military, being convenient to Randolph AFB, Fort Sam Houston and Brooke Army Medical Center; mostly owners and not many rental units. A solid, but not upscale neighborhood, which we know very well through having lived in and taken a lively interest in since I bought a house in 1995. We walk the dogs, and even before we had dogs, I used to jog a course taking me through most of the streets – it’s an OK neighborhood and we know it well. And San Antonio and Texas generally is doing all right, employment-wise, in comparison to many other places, but even so, I am developing my own way of following the current economic picture; the numbers of disposable pets.
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That is the way of it, when a great question falls into the public debate, or at least, that’s how it will look to the outsider. The extremes on either side bash away energetically at each other, the op-eds and the commentaries are reeled out like so many furiously unfurled rolls of toilet paper, until either the issue is resolved definitively, or everyone is quite tired of it — or some great event crashes in unexpectedly and renders the whole thing absolutely moot.
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I was always a bit cynical about the major media news organs, thanks to twenty years in military public affairs, and the related field of military broadcasting. That is, I didn’t expect much of the poor darlings when it came around to dealing with matters military. The military and all its works and all its strange ways were terra incognita to all but a handful of mainstream media personalities and reporters, all during the 1970s, the 1980s and into the 1990s. Stories of media misconduct were fairly common among us; attempted checkbook journalism, howling misstatements of fact, generalized anti-military bigotry, pre-existing biases just looking for a whisper of confirmation … all that and more were the stuff of military public affairs legend. I expect that most media reporters and editors just naturally expected military personnel, pace Platoon and other Vietnam-era movies, to be drug-addled, barely competent, marginally criminal, knuckle-dragging morons. The air of pleasurable surprise and relief almost universally displayed by various deployed reporters during the First Gulf War, upon discovering this was not so – that in fact, most members of the military were articulate, polite, competent professionals – was one that I noted at the time, and found to be bitterly amusing.
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Posted by Lexington Green on 31st October 2011 (All posts by Lexington Green)
A few months ago I wrote that I was going to stop obsessing about the presidential election.
Dan correctly called bullish*t.
But, I am now thinking more and more that (1) the time and energy spent thinking about the presidential election is wasted, and time is too precious to waste, and there is too much else that must be done, and (2) even if you must pay attention to politics, the down-ticket races are the ones that will matter, and it is possible to get involved and make a difference in those races, and I encourage everyone to do so.
So, no kidding, this time for sure, I am done with this presidential election.
I put my hands over my ears, close my eyes, and go ya ya ya ya ya ya ya really loud.
At least until way, way closer to next November.