Metablogging Archives

May 05, 2006

Change of focus

I think I need to change the focus on my blog again.

When I first started, it was a dreadfully boring exercise blog that I kept for my own reference.

It then turned into a work blog from someone who works alone, and into a set of musings on teaching as I hashed out how best to teach.

Around the buildup to the Iraq war and then the 2004 election, I did a lot of politics.

Right now I am working with other people, which limits my ability to do workplace blogging.

Most of the things that I find myself wanting to blog involve kids, house, and family.

So, I shall simply shift focus and do more daddy blogging.

Oh, I might eat a cheese sandwhich while I am at it.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:14 AM | TrackBack

February 16, 2006

Comments ???

I hear from my email that folks are having trouble getting typepad to recognize them for commenting purposes.

I had no trouble, but was also using this computer. Anyone have thoughts on this?

Posted by Red Ted at 08:53 PM | TrackBack

January 24, 2006

We're Back

We are back.

I got MT 3.2 installed and then got a very odd posting bug resolved.

Now I have to get back into the habit of posting everyday. I also have to figure out why the comment spammers were creating error logs that were filling my (expensive and limited) web space.

But that is a later debugging session.

EDIT - main index is STILL not building correctly.

Did this fix it?
YES

Now I just have to write new comment templates.

Posted by Red Ted at 01:45 PM | TrackBack

January 07, 2006

Not Dead Yet

Just a quick note to say that while this has not been updated in a while, the delay is because I have not made the time to reinstall a clean version of MT, with a different arrangement for handling comments.

Posted by Red Ted at 12:30 PM | TrackBack

November 15, 2005

MT Buggy

As folks may have noticed - comments and trackbacks are neither working nor hidden.

I need to do a good solid reinstall and debugging of MT. But, I do not have the high-brainpower time available for it.

So, we will keep limping along for a while.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:16 PM | TrackBack

August 24, 2005

Comments down

I took comments off line - something buggy in MT's back end.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:03 PM | TrackBack

April 30, 2005

Blogroll Edit

Just a note to say that I updated the blogroll.

I removed a couple of discontinued blogs; I removed a couple of blogs I stopped reading; I shuffled a couple of people back and forth between academical villagers and political pundits - the two categories are somewhat arbitrary; I added a few new reads.

After some thought I decided that Darth Vader's blog is more like a livejournal than a set of political commentary.

EDIT
Added some of the gaming geeks from the old Sunsword Forums (now closed due to excessive hacker visitation.) Then I moved a couple of other gaming-related links from people and prose to the gaming geeks corner. Big Ed got alphabetized under B, because that is the first letter of his use-name.

Darth Vader is still a livejournal. I wonder how long it will be before he gets Dooced?

Posted by Red Ted at 09:07 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 05, 2005

Comments back

It appears that our hosting company shut down the default mt comments script to reduce the server load from comment spammers. I just found out that comments were down, and have renamed the script.

Comments should once again function.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:11 PM | TrackBack

February 01, 2005

Trackbacks OFF

I just got hit by a trackback spammer. It was a mite tedious as they were spamming as I was deleting.

Trackbacks are currently off. I will turn them back on in a week or so.

The only good news is that there is a chance that the original spammer got himself banned/chastized by his IP, because when I went to follow up I found a re-direct to a complaint form.

But that might just be wishful thinking.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:14 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 11, 2005

Back

I am back, in body if not in mind.

Vacation eats time.

A sinus cold that leaves you lying semi-conscious for a week eats time.

Having trouble getting back to sleep after feeding pie to the screaming toddler at 1:00am eats the following day.

Still, it is a good pie - custard pie is easy.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:14 AM | TrackBack

December 30, 2004

On vacation

Happy New Year
Splendiferous Solstice
Merry Christmas
Happy Hannukah (earlier this month)
and a truly decadent Saturnalia to you all.

Remember that December is when the grain is in, the beer is brewed from that grain, the animals have been slaughtered in the cold weather, and now there is no farm work to do - so lets keep the dark nights at bay with beer and meat. (well, I will eat pastry instead of drinking beer, a personal choice.)

Posted by Red Ted at 06:25 AM | TrackBack

December 08, 2004

Is your blogroll pink or blue?

A week or so ago one of the feminists I read challenged her readers to add up the male and female names on their blogroll. I forgot to mark the post and now can not find it - a bad habit of mine.

While grading I counted men and women on my blogroll as a study break - grade three, add up some names, grade two, crank a tune, and so on.

I noticed a couple of odd things about my blogroll: the academics I read are fairly evenly divided; the pundits I read are largely male; the literature and lifestyle blogs I read are largely female. This matches the standard story about separate blogospheres.

The second odd thing is that group blogs are heavily biased toward men or women, with the academic group blogs being more evenly balanced than the political blogs, but still more heavily male than the singleton academic blogs.

So, looking at the entire blogroll I had 88 men, 53 women, and 4 woodland creatures (bloggers of undetermined gender), so the bloggers I read regularly are about 61% male.

But, that counts the six guys in Begging to Differ as six bloggers. What if I pro-rated group blogs by their gender ratio, so Crooked Timber for example is 13 men and 3 women, or 80% male. If I did that then the blogroll by blog came out to only 57% male, i.e. the blogs I read are about 57% male.

Subgroup statistics below the fold.

p.s. I have my excel spreadsheet available for downloading in case anyone wants to plug their blogroll in and save some time working up their own ratios.

Sure enough, the singleton blogs are about 51% male while my group blogs are 71% male - there are a couple of large boy-bands in my politics section.

Then I went and looked at the sub groups. I divide the blogroll into three ideosyncratic groupings: Academical Villagers; Law, Politics & Punditry; People & Prose. The groupings should be fairly self-explanatory. The only oddity is that I made the executive decision that law professors were more like lawyers than like professors (Law School takes your old brain and issues you a new one, after all).

So, here are percent male for: all in category, singleton blogs, group blogs, pro-rated group blogs for each.

Academical villagers:
all bloggers: 72%
singleton bloggers: 53%
group bloggers: 80%
all blogs (groups pro-rated) 61%

Law, Politics & Punditry:
all bloggers: 62%
singleton bloggers: 65%
group bloggers: 59%
all blogs (groups pro-rated) 72%

People and Prose:
all bloggers: 36%
singleton bloggers: 35%
group bloggers: 50%
all blogs (groups pro-rated) 35%

What do all these numbers mean:

First off, Academical Villagers are more nearly gender balanced than the other groups. My pundits are mostly male, my People and Prose almost as heavily female.

Secondly, People and Prose are more likely to be singleton blogs, while the big group blogs are almost all in Law, Punditry and Politics. Many of the women in this category are the 10 women in misbehaving.net.

Finally, these are really rough numbers. Halley Suit and Timothy Burke are both double counted, for both have a solo blog and a group blog on the blogroll. My methodology basically ignores the four woodland creatures. I made an arbitrary decision that the bloggers of record were counted, regular guests were not. This means that Amy Sullivan of the Washington Monthly did not get counted - that blog is counted as the sole work of Kevin Drum. Similarly, Sergeant Stryker recently revised their group of bloggers, but their list of bloggers of record still dates to before the change. I used the old list of 3 men and one woman.

These rough numbers were a useful exercise. I learned something about my blog-reading habits.

Oh, I had to choose between recording percent male or percent female. I run this blog with a male identity, so I counted percent male.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:50 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

November 24, 2004

Sidebar changes

I updated the sidebar this morning while deciding if the littler man would remain asleep.

The big change is that the link to the reading log now indicates the last five reviews/rants.

I also went through the public and private blogrolls, updated the list of folks I read regularly, and move a couple of people from the Law & Politics or People & Prose lists up to the Academical Villagers.

Yes, the blogroll is hand-coded in the template. It was the only way to get it to break and alphabetize the way I wanted it.

Now lets see if my two blogs start exchanging traffic - according to the site meters NO ONE was going back and forth between them earlier.

And so to decide if I would rather nap or grade. (Silly question.)

Posted by Red Ted at 05:02 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 18, 2004

Like Something out of William Gibson

William Gibson writes cyberpunk fiction about a world where communication, technology, and corporations have combined to create a completely alien gestalt over and through the rusting remnants of our industrial age.

One of his recent novels included a chain of convenience stores where every store had cameras mounted on it and every store had video screens all over it and every store was constantly displaying a shifting montage of random images viewed at all the other stores. It was a sort of worldwide urban kaleidoscope.

Eric Muller points out that Livejournal has a script that shows you the last 20 images posted to Livejournal. It is fascinating - a sort of random voyeurism of images voluntarily shared with the public. I find myself going back to see what is new, what is different, and to get some sort of a loose feel for what people are doing with their livejournals.

Now if only I could sleep.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:21 PM | TrackBack

September 23, 2004

Blogroll update

I went through the blogroll, dropped a couple of defunct blogs and blogs I was no longer reading, and added a mess of blogs from my private blogroll.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:32 AM | TrackBack

August 24, 2004

Comment Policy

I have been getting one to five comment spams a day, and to cut down on their prevalence I have told MT not to post comments until I approve them.

If the spams continue I will go to a typekey registration comment system, because it gets tedious to ban an ip here and ban an ip there.

Posted by Red Ted at 12:46 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 09, 2004

Comment Spammers

I got hit by comment spammers again. So, I am trying something. I will post their email a few dozen times in the extended entry in the hope that the spammer trolls will harvest it. If nothing else, it feels good to try to exert a little cheap revenge.

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Posted by Red Ted at 08:30 PM | TrackBack

August 04, 2004

YAY

I am now the top entry when you google on red ted!

Alas, I am still 3rd for redted.

Clearly I need to scribble more.

Posted by Red Ted at 04:52 PM | TrackBack

Comedy is HARD

Joshua Marshall suggests that Democrats need more humor as they attack GWB and friends. Matthew Yglesias supported the idea. I tried to write a funny. I did. But it came out as tragedy. Then I tried again, and it just came out as a clever bit of pop culture.

Clearly, I need to work on my humor.

Posted by Red Ted at 12:36 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 14, 2004

Question

Does anyone read the reading blog?

Should I indicate on this blog when I have a new entry on the reading list?

Posted by Red Ted at 10:37 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 07, 2004

Complete Rebuild

I managed to corrupt my Berkely DB database and render the entire blog unstable.

Rather than fixing the not very robust system, I went ahead and converted to mysql.

I think I lost a couple of posts, and I know I lost "me"'s last comment.

I almost lost my templates, but was able to dig into the old database and recover them.

What a bother.

I will be recreating the lost posts from copies archived on my hard drive. Most of them are not all that interesting, but there you go.

ps, trackbacks and links to individual posts no longer work. I need to fix my front page template.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 17, 2004

Comments not working?

So, sometime since June 11 the comment feature on the weblog stopped working.

I am digging into it in my copious free time.

As near as I can tell, the IP banning script is blocking everyone. But that is just a guess.

EDIT - Guess was correct - I had a blank line in the ip banning section. Of course, while debugging it I upgraded to MT 3.0 and now the management menus are borked. Ah well.

Posted by Red Ted at 04:11 AM | TrackBack

June 04, 2004

Thanks Brad !

I was due to hit my 10,000th visitor sometime this weekend.

Thanks to the Brad-alanch below I blew through that marker sometime this afternoon.

Thanks Brad.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:26 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 25, 2004

Strange traffic

Lately most of the traffic here has come from search engines.

Based on the search terms, this appears to be a blog about Hitler, dildoes, and flour bugs, with ann coulter's adam's apple as an appetizer.

As an exercise for the reader, write me a 200 word short short story about Hitler, dildoes, and flour bugs. You know you can do it!

Posted by Red Ted at 01:07 AM | TrackBack

May 20, 2004

Academic Webloggers

Via my referral list, I see that Alex Halavais has a list of scholars who blog

Interesting list; I am blogging it so I can find it again and read some other academic folks' weblogs.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:40 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 12, 2004

Dwight on blogging?

This little quote from Timothy Dwight's posthumous essay on education, published in the early 19th century, was originally aimed at the Republic of Letters, the process through which educated people wrote each other, passed the letters around to their friends, and proved that they were indeed proper natural aristocrats by their ability to write and read elegant, intelligent, well-crafted prose.

That which is styled the Republic of Letters, is a real republic. Every member of it, has at all times claimed the right of giving his opinion concerning every subject which is brought into debate; and nothing more is usually required of him, by those who are interested in it, than that he should speak to the purpose.
In many ways blogging is the modern equivalent, complete to the way in which we measure other people's blogs by their ability to craft clear and, more importantly, interesting prose.

I find this intriguing because, as Jurgen Habermas argues, the republic of letters led to the creation of the bourgeois public sphere, a realm of communication and identity formation that mobilized the nascent middle classes into a political force and social influence. I wonder what sort of public sphere will emerge from blogging?

Posted by Red Ted at 01:45 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 16, 2004

Hitler >> Lenin

On April 8th I posted that I was considering comparing Lenin to Dr. Frankenstein in the next class. Brad DeLong was amused and linked it, as did Matthew Yglesias.
I got about 130 hits and about 250 page views that day, a good hundred hits above average for the day. Lenin is worth 100 hits.

On April 15th I posted that earlier that day I had engaged in the guilty pleasure of reading Hitler speeches to the class. Brad DeLong was amused and linked it; Eric Muller was bothered and also linked it.
I got 652 visitors and 1012 page views that day, over 600 more visitors than is usual for a Thursday.

Clearly, Hitler's ability to draw web traffic is six times higher than Lenin's.

Next week we will spend more time with Stalin. If I write something that amuses Brad we might get a third data point.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:26 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 14, 2004

Carnival

Carnival 82 is up at Boi From Troi. He did a nice job with a West Hollywood theme.

I sent in Lenin and Frankenstein. It was either that or tell the world that the younger son looks like Uncle Fester which is not much of a joke because I don't post pictures of the kids on this blog.

Posted by Red Ted at 12:58 PM | TrackBack

April 10, 2004

Lenin-lanche

I see that my sitemeter has gone up sharply since I last worked on the blog. Both Brad DeLong and Matthew Yglesias were intrigued by my throw-away suggestion that Lenin is like Dr. Frankenstein.

Hi to all the new visitors, although I suspect that most of the new visitors have come and gone already.

For what it is worth, I did not make the expliit comparison between Lenin and Frankenstein in class (the kids did not even know the punch line to the classic Frankenstein story, why confuse them.) I did use the tension between goals and means to help explain things, although I focused more on the 1903 split between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks.

Posted by Red Ted at 06:41 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Blogiversary

Today is my one-year Blogiversary

I hope I spelled that right.

I started the blog in April 2003 as a diet, sleep, and exercise tracker for my own use. Over the following months the focus changed as did the uses that I put it to. I even developed a few dozen regular readers.

Looking back, I like reading the last six months or so of the blog; the first six months put me to sleep -- and I wrote them.

Posted by Red Ted at 06:34 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 01, 2004

Yay Hormel

Via Crooked Timber I see that the Hormel corporation is putting the contact information for email telemarketers on cans of its Spam meat product, like missing children on milk cartons but with a different purpose.

Kudos to Hormel. It is always hard for a company when your product name enters the general language, especially when in this case it is being used as a derogatory term. I like to see them using some humor while they sell their salty, fatty, spiced pork product.

Of course, the press release is dated April 1, 2004.

Still, it is a clever idea.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:03 AM | TrackBack

March 24, 2004

Reading Lists

I decided that the best way to implement my reading lists was not a single constantly updated post, not a sidebar in the template, not an external file, but another moveable type blog.

So, there is a link at the top of the sidebar to Red Ted's Reading Blog.

The reading lists are mostly there for my own reference, but I find the MT interface handy so why not make them public.

I still need to tweak the look and feel of the reading blog - right now it is too close to this blog and I want them to feel similar while looking distinctive.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:53 AM | TrackBack

March 19, 2004

Blog it Forward - NWS

Every so often I like to "Blog it Forward" - say a few words about the various people on my blogroll explaining why I read them and why I publicize my links to them. When J told the 'rents about the blog, my first response was that Dad should not click any of the NWS links.

They did not ask me, but I later asked myself, why was it that I have links on my blog that I don't want folks to click?

The answer is that I tend to blog about gender and sexuality issues, I like to read honest well-written confessionals, and all of the NWS blogs on my roll are things that make me think. They are explicit, but their interest goes beyond ballistics. So, lets say a few words about each.

Belle de Jour
Recent revelations have shown that Belle de Jour is not written by an upscale London call girl but by another author who has the same name! Maybe not. Belle has been getting flack and people wondering if she is for real because she appears to be far too articulate polished and classy to be a prostitute. Who knows? Who cares? I do know that she has a wonderful sardonic take on the world around her, and on her activities. And while I happen to agree with her rhetorical question: what else is a girl with an English degree to do if she wants something more honest than advertising? I have also been noting the ways in which her new profession has been hurting her dating life; Gandhi warned that one of the great sins of the modern era is sex without love, and Belle has lost one boyfriend and screwed up a potential replacement because of her job. Still, Belle writes wonderfully and is generally the second blog I read each morning.

Cat Nastey
Cat is a perky Canadian lass with roots in the fetish subculture. I blogrolled her because she recently fell in love and has been writing about her "lovely boy." I enjoy reading her take on the world, both on the sex blog and on her other, more private blog. Cat has been exploring her boy, exploring Wicca, dreading her soul-sucking job working for a batch of dreadfully boring accountants, and thinking about getting back into the fetish scene. I love her sense of enthusiasm.

Heather Corinna
Heather made the blogroll because I like to think about sex and gender, and Heather regularly writes about sex and gender. Heather makes her living as a sex writer and photographer, taking pictures of herself and of her friends, maintaining Scarleteen, a wonderful resource on sexuality for teenagers, and opining on the world around her. She boxes, she is an artist, she is an entrepreneur, and she writes about class and gender and sexual orientation. What's not to like about her? Oh, and sometimes she is a redhead as well. I read her only a couple of times a week, but every time it is 20 minutes well spent.

Eros Blog
Bacchus runs a portal. Unlike many sexuality link sites, he has interesting taste and a wonderful sense of humor. He, like Cat, made it onto the blogroll because he fell in love and blogged about it. I can indeed be a sentimental romantic at times. I read him for two things: the recurring tale of the romance between Bacchus and his Nymph in the Net, and for his very good eye for what other sex bloggers write. Some of his links cross the line into gross, but most of them are both amusing and make me think.

Just One Bite
Eden rocks. In fact, since I know she reads this, Eden inspires me to make the following offer: Anyone on my blogroll who is in greater Philly and wants to go for coffee, send an email and we will set something up. Eden is a wonderfully complicated woman, compulsively honest and well aware of the multiple facets of her personality. She is an effective businesswoman, a wonderfully lucid writer, a good storyteller, a submissive, an occasional switch, a person living with ADHD and a woman with quite the libido. I started reading her blog for the sex stories -- prurient desire has its place. I continue to read it because I am fascinated with the woman. Like many of the other NWS blogs she is falling in love. Maybe. She is not sure, nor is her man. They are in a long distance relationship and have not yet met, but Eden blogs about their slow-moving negotiations and flirtations. I check her blog daily, usually third blog of the day after Crooked Timber and Belle de Jour. If you search my archives for Eden, Just One Bite, or her old blog Dirty Whore you will find several moments in my archives where something she wrote inspired me to think and then to write in response. What's not to like about a smart sexy woman who shares her brain and her imagination? Ps, Eden, good luck recovering from the wisdom teeth surgery.

Pornblogography
Carly has a ridiculous job. She will gladly tell you that her job is ridiculous, in fact, much of her blog is about the sheer absurdity that she encounters on a fairly regular basis. Carly is a relatively straightlaced woman who works as a publicist in the pornography business. Of course, straightlaced for the porn world is about 8 on the scale of 1 to 10 for the regular world - all these things come with context. She is another person who it would probably be fun to have coffee with, although she would make me blush - this is the woman who went speed dating and then asked complete strangers if they did anal?. She is also a stringer (main editor - I am not sure about the exact job title) for Fleshbot. I read Carly because she writes with great perception about an industry devoted to making money from sex and gender issues. If there is an emotional hot spot, or an undercurrent in the zeitgiest, someone will be sure to make a cheap porno to try to take advantage of that particular market segment, and Carly is likely to make a catty remark about it. This is a workplace blog, and a fun read. Note, Dad does not get to click this link because Carly goes on site for porn shoots and recounts what goes on there. Porn folks have different standards of body modesty than do most people.

Twiddlybits
I am not sure, but I think Twiddly was the first NWS blog to make my blogroll. She is another good writer, although she and her Danglybits, her husband, only update occasionally. Her blog is the closest of all my NWS links to a traditional sex blog as she and Dangly like to write about having kinky sex with one another, and with friends. She writes well, and honestly, and as a person who likes her husband, likes other people, likes sex, and enjoys herself. There is not enough joy in the world, and it is good to find someone who takes joy in her daily world.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:41 AM | TrackBack

March 18, 2004

Robots

I have been getting some very strange search strings lately.

I checked a couple of them, and they were going to my monthly and category archives. Some of those archive pages are big, and it is not all that unusual to find all the words in a strange query scattered throughout one of those archives.

So, I added a meta robot noarchive tag to the monthly and category archive files, but left individual entries in the search bots.

Lets see if it cuts down on folks coming here while looking for something completely different.

Among the strange searches were:

teaching i am the cheese
Oedipus the King (Unabridged) audio download free
pictures of what russian immigrant women wore
pictures of brick red husky dogs
chicken fajitas calories roly poly
That last one amuses me - I think anything that says roly poly amuses me.

It could be worse -- I don't have any bizarre, kinky, or x-rated searches coming in yet although I am sure I could put in some google-bait and get a few.

Posted by Red Ted at 03:37 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 06, 2004

Posting Priorities

I am a little frustrated with the blog right now. Why? I have some good ideas for big think pieces: two on body types continuing my earlier discussion, riffing off of the NYT article on the clothing size survey and riffing off my decision to rejoin a gym; one on why some people look at Iraq and resolve to support GWB, others look at Iraq and resolve that he is a miserable failure as a war president; and one on my new meme of Saturday Garden blogging.

However, my A time goes to writing my real stuff, my B time goes to household tasks and baby wrangling, and in my C time I can only write little things like what you have seen over the last few days.

And so to revise a few pages about anti-Catholicism in the 1830s while the kids sleep.

Perhaps I will write one of the above as a study break next time I get stuck.

Posted by Red Ted at 12:22 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 04, 2004

Carnival 76

Carnival of the Vanities 76 is up at Dodgeblogium who stepped in as emergency fill-ins for this week.

I sent them the piece on The very opposite of pandering that I wrote in response to something John Holbo wrote at Crooked Timber.

All sorts of linky goodness, but as today is a day for errands and writing, I won't be reading the Carnival until later on.

And so to read in chapter 4.

Posted by Red Ted at 12:58 PM | TrackBack

March 03, 2004

The better angels of our nature

I found myself thinking about why I read web logs, why I read fiction, and what things I find in common amid the various things that I read for fun.

What came to mind was this: I like to read things that celebrate or explain traits that I wish I had more of. For me, the traits that I respond to are being a doer not a slacker, being kind to others, having introspection and self-knowledge, and living a truthful life. These are the better angels of my nature, and I do what I can to encourage them in myself and, where possible, in others.

Perfection is boring. It is boring in fiction and, in real life, when I meet someone who seems too perfect I suspect a con game. Even Ben Franklin, who resolved at one point to become perfect, found that the best he could do was moderate those of his faults that he was aware of. In fiction, the perfect character is not inspirational and not all that interesting. The challenge for an author is to create an attractive character, someone who appeals to some of our better angels and is neither perfect nor despicable.

As bloggers, we create images of ourselves through our words, picking and choosing the stories to tell, the subjects to comment on, and the items to link. We also, through our selection of who we read and, even more, who we publicly admit to reading, display to other people what some of our aspirations are.

That is not to say that we want to be the people in our blogrolls, although it would be sort of fun to take Eugene Volokh's brain out for a spin some day, but rather that most of the people we read regularly have something appealing or attractive to them. And, most of the people that we read often but do not blogroll have something unattractive about them or something that appeals to the darker angels of our nature. I know I have many sites on my private blogroll that will never go to the list on the right simply because they are too negative, or they are slackers, or they put partisan concerns above a search for truth and understanding.

And so, while I sometimes silently add and drop people from the blogroll, sometimes we have to announce that we are dropping someone as a public protest against their words or as a statement that the balance of their public persona has shifted from, for example, being a good writer who has slacker tendencies to being a self-destructive slacker who used to write well but is now calling for help. I am self destructive and slack enough on my own - those traits do not need reinforcement. So, while I do hope that Rob gets his act together, it is time to edit the blogroll.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:10 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 27, 2004

Cat Blogging

Now that I have my own site, I can post pictures - which means that Isis can join Kevin Drum and the hosts of catbloggers just in time for Kevin's last catblogging post.

This is Isis the cat. She is about 15 years old and relatively healthy all things considered (don't ask me about cat poop and megacolon, just don't.)

Here she has found a spot just out of foot traffic, next to a heat vent and J's breakfront. She looks rather cozy here.


Isis the cat lying on the floor

Posted by Red Ted at 03:07 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 24, 2004

The very opposite of pandering

John Holbo is guest blogging at Crooked Timber this week. As part of his inaugural address he includes this wonderful description of what it is that a web log is capable of.

There are really two features of blogging – academic blogging, maybe – that seem to me truly superior, and worthy of celebration and acclaim and reinforcement. First, the willingness of some of us, at least some of the time, to do the very opposite of pandering to our audience: we suddenly start teaching a seminar on some arcane subject, concerning which there is no legitimate presumption that another soul in the universe is interested; and if they aren’t – that’s why there’s back buttons. But the fannish enthusiasm for whatever twiddle it may be is so often infectious. Reading, you are sure this person cares. So you are infected. So you find something new and interesting. As simple as that.
I do indeed treat my blog as an opportunity to teach a seminar on some arcane subject, and I do indeed have absolutely no idea if anyone finds any of it interesting. But I like it. And just as my best attribute as a classroom teacher is my sense of enthusiasm and excitement, so too do I like to think that I share some of the fun of history with all dozen of my readers.

John frames "fannish enthusiasm" as a trait of the academic blogs, but I see it in workplace blogs as well. Just as, to seize an example from middlebrow culture, Dick Francis novels all share the fun of the author looking into a new profession and explaining it for his readers in addition to whatever mystery, adventure, and formulaic plot he includes, so too do blogs share the fun of explaining aspects of life that we find just odd of ordinary. There is something compelling in reading about the things that make another person excited, whether they be ideas, job experiences, or the travails of relationships and romances. The challenge for the writer is to make everyday life exciting, a challenge I sometimes feel that I fail at for my prose tends to bog down.

I commented to my students the other day that most people, when faced with a moment of sudden responsibility, rise to the demands placed upon them. It is an attractive human trait, and a powerful one, even if it can be difficult for us to sustain the best aspects of our natures. John touches on that aspect of the human condition with his phrase, "the very opposite of pandering." I like it, I may use it more in the future.

Posted by Red Ted at 12:48 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

February 12, 2004

Categories

I have too many categories.

When I wrote the original blog, I blogged about whatever came to mind. The general conceit was that it was the workplace blog of someone who works alone, but I have all sorts of stuff there.

I tried to create categories for the transfer to movable type, and I count 20 on the sidebar at the moment that I write this. That is too many - it confuses rather than simplifies.

But, today is a writing day and I don't want to use prime time for blog thoughts. So, I will not change categories this morning. This is just a random comment to the effect that categories shape our thought, and that it can be hard to come up with categories for thought that was previously not organized in that manner. But you knew that already.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:25 AM | TrackBack

February 10, 2004

We are live

Well, I just posted an announcement on the old site that the new site is up and running.

Please let me know if the formatting does not work or the pages are buggy.

I will be adding archives to categories a few at a time as a study break. Once I have gotten through a couple months of categories I will start working on the fixed files for the reading lists.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:11 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Sleep Blues

Well, today is a strange day for I was rattling last night.

After teaching I was all fired up. I wrote up the class, I brainstormed for Monday, I did some busy-work for teaching, and it was 10:00. I was not yet sleepy so I decided to mess with the new blog for a few minutes before bed. Around 3:00am I finally toddled away from the computer, and I got to sleep around 3:40 am.

J is cranky because, when she asked at 2:00am I said I was coming to bed when the truth was that I was rattling.

I am cranky because I spent my rattling working with the new blog and not clearing away busywork - typing in student names for the gradebook, catching up on back issues of the Chronicle of Higher Education or any of the little tasks that always need doing around the house. So, today I get to do my writing and my busywork.

I am back to chapter 4. I have decided that I do not like to work on chapter 4.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:43 AM | TrackBack

February 09, 2004

Layout

Well, class got prepped and I went to spend a couple of minutes with the new blog's layout.

I am wrestling with a design decision. I do want to use the extended entries - some of my blather is better left hidden. Extended entries open onto an archive page - I can archive by post, by day, or by week for these links. In addition I will be maintaining date-based archives linkable from the front and also some category archives.

My first thought was that I like comments in a little pop-up window, not tacked onto the end of the extended entry. So, no archives by post (see Calpundit for an example) unless I go back on that decision.

The default is to use the same archive template for daily and monthly archives. Should these look like the front page - Just One Bite - or should they look different - Sheila O'Malley?

Rather than reading fiction, I mess with these decisions in the hour between ending work and going to bed. The good news is that I am learning more css - I got a float to work for the date archives, but then decided it was ugly. The bad news is that, well, there is a lot of potching and puttering going on.

And so to bed.

Posted by Red Ted at 12:01 PM | TrackBack

Clarification


That last post was cryptic - I must have written it late at night.

The point of it was that I am wrestling with the look and feel of the new weblog. I have an acceptable front page; I have decided to keep the grey, yellowbeige, red color scheme. I am struggling with the best way to display my archives.

The big question is whether, when you click on a permalink or an extended entry, you should see a page that looks essentially like the main index or a page that looks essentially different - should it include the sidebar?

This question is made more difficult for me because, as a matter of aesthetics, I like permalinks that show the post but not the comments - comments belong in a pop-up window. The way MT works, if you archive individual entries, the comments go at the bottom of the entry; if you archive by day, week, or month, you can put the comments in a pop-up.

I think I need to dig some more, for I know I have seen MT blogs that expand a post in place for the extended entry.

And so to start my day.

EDIT - James at Outside the Beltway has exactly the functionality I was thinking of. He achieves it by using javascript. I learned my HTML before Javascript was invented, and I still mistrust it as a buggy wonder that adds little while breaking browsers and requiring people to upgrade to crap. However, those thoughts might be out of date. Certainly the lowest prevalent denominator among web browsing software now supports javascript.

Still, I have had the design philosophy of "cut the bells and whistles" beaten into me to the point that I have to have a compelling reason before I use a script, a frame, or an image. Compelling reasons exist, so I do use all of these design elements, but I try to make sure that the whole thing loads as smoothly as possible on as many browsers and browser conditions as possible.

Posted by Red Ted at 07:20 AM | TrackBack

February 06, 2004

I'm gots domain

Well, I finally went ahead and got my own domain.

I am installing movable type now. Then I will get to design a new blog. Sometime next week I will move this blog over to the new location.

It will take me a while, for I only get to work on this stuff after I stop being productive at my real work.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:46 AM | TrackBack

February 05, 2004

A book for you, a book for me.


I just signed up for the Amazon.com associate program. As I write about books I will link to them with the handy-dandy top secret RedTed code. I have not decided if I will grant them an honest-to-goodness link on the permanant sidebar.

If people buy books, I might even get a dollar or two back for my own book addiction. And that would be a good thing.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:49 AM | TrackBack

Do I hear MT a calling?



After reading this well reasoned set of arguments on Kuro5hin I have resolved that the only reasonable thing to do is move to Movable type. Thanks to the Commissar and LeeAnn for giving me appropriate political guidance in this matter.

Besides, doing hand trackbacks is tedious.

Posted by Red Ted at 05:52 AM | TrackBack

February 04, 2004

Carnival


COTV 72 is up at A Perfectly Cromulent Blog.

Go forth and read.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:51 AM | TrackBack

Blogroll update


DW has moved her webspace to Just One Bite and changed her nom de blog to Eden.

I like the new look and label.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:41 AM | TrackBack

January 29, 2004

Blogroll Etiquitte


When linking a blog, do you link them by blog name or by author name? For some, such as Wonkette, it is easy for the name and the psuedonym are one and the same.

I normally alphabetize by last name if given, by blog name if no last name listed or if it is a group blog. But not always.

In any case, welcome Venemous Kate to the blogroll. I held off linking her because she links to and celebrates snark, and I generally do not care for snark or negativity. But, she writes well and has some good things to say over and above the background level of nastiness. So, up she goes - the left roll is for folks I read regularly after all.

EDIT also welcom Jim Putnam, a retired gentleman with a low-key and thoughtful blog. I flipped a coin and filed him with pundits and not people and prose because he writes just a little bit more punditry than he does book reviews and poetry. Blogroll categories are always arbitrary at the margins.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:39 AM | TrackBack

Blogroll Etiquitte


When linking a blog, do you link them by blog name or by author name? For some, such as Wonkette, it is easy for the name and the psuedonym are one and the same.

I normally alphabetize by last name if given, by blog name if no last name listed or if it is a group blog. But not always.

In any case, welcome Venemous Kate to the blogroll. I held off linking her because she links to and celebrates snark, and I generally do not care for snark or negativity. But, she writes well and has some good things to say over and above the background level of nastiness. So, up she goes - the left roll is for folks I read regularly after all.

EDIT also welcom Jim Putnam, a retired gentleman with a low-key and thoughtful blog. I flipped a coin and filed him with pundits and not people and prose because he writes just a little bit more punditry than he does book reviews and poetry. Blogroll categories are always arbitrary at the margins.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:39 AM | TrackBack

January 28, 2004

Carnival


Carnival of the Vanities 71 is up at The American Mind.

I seem to have signed my entry Ted K instead of the Red Ted I used in the past.

Note to self, keep psuedonyms straight. Also, remember Vodka Martini goes with black tie, not torn overalls.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:18 AM | TrackBack

January 24, 2004

Greatest Hits


I added a list of greatest hits to the template on the right. I define greatest hits by how often search engines send people to them - they are not my best posts.

I might add some best posts later on, on a day when my ego will need that particular massage.

In other news, chapter two used to be 84 sloppy pages - now it is 49 fairly tight pages. It needs more editing, but not today.

And so to do the dishes. The dish drain has been empty for over an hour now, and if I don't get something in there soon the universe might explode.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:31 AM | TrackBack

January 23, 2004

Atom


Blogspot added a built-in feed, so I dropped into the left hand roll. I am just learning about RSS and syndication - it looks like pretty cool stuff.

Posted by Red Ted at 02:20 AM | TrackBack

January 21, 2004

Blog Types


Hmm, both DW and Dana and Liz at Misbehaving are fashing about types of blogs and the meaning of blogging.

I am amused because both are engaged in a categorization debate. As even my undergraduates know, if you can define the terms under discussion you will have controlled the debate. Dana posted a few days ago asking why bloggers are mostly straight white men. Her post spurred some interesting debate. I and several other people turned to the meta-debate: Dana had posited a difference between "blog" which focus on news and politics and tend to be written by straight white men and "webjournals" which tend to be about personal lives and relationships and tend to be written by women. I differed with her on two grounds: she was making an arbitrary division where I saw two of several poles and she was making a normative distinction between blogs and journals and then asking why there was a gender difference between the two.

That discussion inspired Dana's current effort, and DW's musings inspired me to write about both of them. When I categorize I generally prefer to use a very broad general definition and then add adjectives to describe the various sub-groups, affinity poles, and alignments within that broad general definition. So for me, if it is regularly updated with chronological postings, it is a web log or blog. Within that very broad category some folks spend more time journaling, others do nothing but links and short comments, others write thinker blogs with long posts and few links, some folks just do memes and quizzes and time-wasters, kiddie blogs write about the emotions of high school, and so on. Most blogs contain a mix of all of the above - I know this is a thinker blog, a workplace blog and a writing and teaching journal all at the same time, and even Glen Reynolds writes about cars and cooking in addition to his quick links and "heh, indeed."

For me the interesting question is what combination of elements do various blogs have, which combinations tend to be more commonly written and which combinations tend to be more commonly visited. I suspect, just from mark 1 eyeball and my own web browsing, that most web logs are kiddie blogs or personal journals and that most of these have a very small readership. There are a few widely popular blogs, some personal some links and politics. In general, folks say, you build traffic by linking - so gregarious cross linkers grow faster. This pattern, if true, suggests that links and politics blogs should get a fair amount of traffic, that thinker blogs should get less traffic, and that personal blogs that spend a lot of their time referencing other blogs, personal or otherwise, are more likely to be visited than are personal blogs that are closer to self-contained journals. Sex sells, of course, although there as well linkers NWS probably have the traffic advantage over thinkers.

Personally I prefer to read value-added blogs: the blog should contain something more than the story of your day and something more than a link and brief description. Say why this part of this day matters to you, ask a question about life, the universe and everything, make me laugh, but don't just recite what you ate. (look at my first month to see that sort of boring blog.) Add some comment to the political link, add your analysis, make a connection between what this person said and something else that you know about, but don't just say "heh, indeed."

Going back to the topic, I think that Dana's project has potential - I would be interested to see a list of ideal types or logical poles around which we can organize blogs. Personally I would imagine something like a color wheel - if red is tendency to link, blue is tendency to write about personal life, and yellow is tendency to write about politics, then most blogs could easily be color coded and mapped. That color-coded map could then be cross-linked to traffic patterns - probably from technorati rather than TTLB - and we could draw some further generalizations. Obviously there are more than three poles we could use for analysis, but this suggests how I approach categorization - I see the world as a mixture and sort out the mixture by using a complex set of ideal types.

This blog would be dark green under the color wheel schema.

Posted by Red Ted at 12:29 PM | TrackBack

January 15, 2004

Gut Rumbles


Acidman at Gut Rumbles is on vacation. Luckily, he has a fine crew of co-bloggers covering for him.

Highly recommended!

Posted by Red Ted at 02:42 AM | TrackBack

January 14, 2004

Carnival


Carnival of the Vanities is up at Snooze button dreams. I submitted my slightly weak piece on romance, but this week's carnival is long on short, political, link and gibe pieces, so mine looks OK by comparison.

Doing a writing day, working away from this machine, so expect light blogging.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:47 AM | TrackBack

Warm Fuzzy


Now thats a warm fuzzy.

Hanni at Tractor Girl has (with permission) used my template for her blog.

It looks better on her than it does on me.

Posted by Red Ted at 03:01 AM | TrackBack

January 12, 2004

Blog Purposes


Brian Weatherson at Crooked Timber has been writing about blogging as scholarship, a question that several other academic bloggers have addressed.

This is important, especially because hiring institutions now routinely google the names of people on their short list. In other words, web logs are not private. When I was working as a tech geek, I always reminded people that email is like a postcard - it is only private because no one wants to take the time to read it. If anyone cares about it, they can read it. Similarly, a blog post is like an article in the local paper. Most folks will never hear about it, but anyone who goes digging will find it quickly and easily.

You may have noticed that this blog does not have my last name on it. I decided for several reasons that I did not want it to come up when I was googled . I may change my mind at some point, but once I go public I can never go back.

Nonetheless, I do see this blog as having an academic component to it. Most of the time this is a mix between a workplace blog and a personal blog, or I should say it is the workplace blog of someone who spends most of their workday working alone. I do write about historical topics fairly regularly, and a good portion of my traffic comes from people who are googling about history and find my articles.

In terms of academic value, this blog is a set of documents written in my role as a public intellectual. It should count for tenure, and if I keep it going a later version will be included in a tenure package, just as one would include a series of local history articles in the county newspaper. It is service, which several people have noted, and it is service as a public intellectual.

Most of the folks who have been talking about blogging as service have been law professors, and I do not think that law has anything equivalent to public history - the art of making the past available to people through outreach, museums, and community projects. I find that an important part of my internet presence is as a public historian, whether writing about flags, or sermons, or any of the odd things that folks have googled me on.

And back to Beecher.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:43 AM | TrackBack

January 08, 2004

Grey and Yellow?


You know, I really LIKE this grey and yellow color scheme. I stumbled into it - I find it easiest to read navy text on an off-white background, and the grey was in the standard blogger template. It is growing on me.

Posted by Red Ted at 12:47 PM | TrackBack

Out of Town


Going out of town on Friday for a job interview. No blogging for me on Friday, other than perhaps a little something late night.

Wish me luck.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:11 AM | TrackBack

January 07, 2004

Carnival


The 68th Carnival of the Vanities is now up at American Realpolitik

I participated with my thing on flags.

Hmm, that reminds me - time to republish blogger. Like taking out the trash or scooping the cat box, republishing blogger is one of those chores that you can never do just once and then forget about.

Posted by Red Ted at 07:39 AM | TrackBack

January 06, 2004

Template change


I just went from tables to css for the main layout. Let me know if it is buggy.

Posted by Red Ted at 02:47 AM | TrackBack

December 31, 2003

Carnival


Carnival of the Vanities is up at Hypocrisy & Hypothesis. Looks like I have some reading to do.

He included both my submissions: licorice and delegated wife-beating. Comments appreciated.

I should be taking this first-thing-in-the-morning post to reflect on the year behind and think about the year ahead. But instead I am drinking my second cup of coffee, getting ready to walk the hound, and making lists of errands to run and work to accomplish. I suppose that, in its own way, that has been my year.

Coffee is dry, hound is looking at me. Time to press "post."

Posted by Red Ted at 07:53 AM | TrackBack

December 29, 2003

Carnival Schedule


Blogging this so I can find it.

I like reading the Carnival of the Vanities. Sometimes I submit things to it. I regularly get frustrated trying to figure out who is hosting it the next week - some hosts give this information but others do not.

So, here is Bigwig's list of the hosts for the next few months:

I need to decide if I want to submit that big thing on flags or if I want to dig into the archives and submit a best of. If I do sent a best of, it would likely be either licorice or I don't have to beat my wife.

And so to lunch, and read, and continue to think about the dissertation. My advisor agrees with me that chapter four was too tricky.

Posted by Red Ted at 01:03 AM | TrackBack

December 27, 2003

Reading

I like to read.

Break is a time for reading. It is also a time for writing, for class prep, for relaxation and for watching movies.

I have a great big stack of things to read - some for work, some fun history, some light fiction.

I think that for the next few days I will be reading fewer blogs, blogging less, and turning more physical pages.

And so to chew through another chapter in Gotham. It is a good book, but 1100 pages of small types is a mighty lot of words.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:27 AM | TrackBack

December 22, 2003

Admin


Updated my public blogroll. Posting so that the template re-posts.

I feel like I have a lot of non-work-safe blogs on my blogroll.

What I think it is, is that I have a very eclectic blogroll.

Many sex bloggers have extensive blogrolls for politics, people, and so on, and also blogrolls with sex links. Most pundit bloggers keep their blog rolls vanilla, skewing heavily to other pundit blogs. Personal blogs have more eclectic links; I guess this is a personal blog.

One of the things I always check when I read a new blog is who are they linking to. Odds are that if they have an eclectic blogroll I will find them interesting while if they link only to one particular subgroup of the blogosphere I will find them boring.

It is glad to know that I pass my own test. I am not boring because I am narrow-minded. I am boring because I write too many words for my ideas. grin

Edit. I considered making a separate blog category for the sex blogs. I decided against it. All of the NWS blogs are things that, while I first linked to them out of prurient curiousity, I return to them regularly because they are well written. There are a lot of sex blogs; there are very few honest and eloquent personal blogs.

Oddly enough, I get about a fifth of what little traffic I do get as links from the various sex blogs.

Posted by Red Ted at 06:41 AM | TrackBack

December 18, 2003

Carl Zimmer


Carl Zimmer has moved his popular science blog, The Loom. Update your links.

While I mention him, let me Blog him Forward.

Carl Zimmer's The Loom is a collection of relatively long discussions about popular science and science history. Zimmer's strength and interest is in evolutionary biology, and much of what he posts is about the history of evolution or about new projects with gene sequencing and genetic research. His posts are all value-added: he will explain new research or tell you about something that you would not have encountered otherwise. I like that in a blog. Zimmer is a professional writer of popular science, and I think I need to chase down some of his books because his blog has that knack of presenting new information in a casual and clearly understandable manner. Lucid prose is a rare gift, and Zimmer has it. He updates a few times a week; I click on the link a few times a week, and I am always glad that I did.

I file him with the academics because much of his writing is about professional science.

Hmm, while I wait for the baby to go to sleep let me add another couple of shout-outs.

Kevin Drum's Calpundit is one of the big dogs of the blogging world. Drum writes several times a day, comments on most major news stories, and always has something interesting to say. He is a liberal democrat, leaning towards the centrist position, with a low tolerance for bullshit from either the left or the right. Drum's professional background is in explaining things to business people (I don't know more about his particular style of consulting than that) and as a result he is very good at explaining political matters to a general readership. Like Zimmer, his prose is lucid. He gains his power by being clear, and occasionally by being outraged, not by using potty language or making outrageous figures of speech. This is not to say that he is a mild centrist, for he is not. His critique of the Texas State Republican Committee is notoriously strong. But, his overall web persona is someone who has core beliefs, will listen and try to understand other people, and who understands the difference between political bargaining and the Big Lie. When he links to something, he almost always adds value with his commentary. I check his blog several times a day.

While I am in praise of writing, let me now praise Anne. She and Sheila O'Malley are probably the two most creative people on my blogroll. (Sarah Hatter and Rob "Acidman" Smith tie for third) Anne ... Straight From the Hip started as a recovery project for an artistic hard-driver who was recovering from crippling depression. Anne is still recovering, and still writing. I am very glad to see that she is re-discovering her creativity - check out her Halloween costume. Anne posts a little more often than once a week. Every post is a beautifully crafted depiction of a moment or an emotion. Many of them are brutally honest, others are vents about the joys of being a talented person working retail while struggling with the "black dog." All of them are compelling.

Posted by Red Ted at 07:56 AM | TrackBack

December 12, 2003

Colors


After reading some of the nominees for best looking blog over at wizbang, I decided to mess with my colors a little bit.

I happen to like navy text on a cream background - but to get that I had to mess with the "browser-safe" colors - so this will look crappy at 256 colors. I can't do much with images until I get my own web host or upgrade to blogger pro. So, I mess with the colors a little bit, but only a little bit; the default blogger red bar is about right for Red Ted Keeps a Diary.

I actually still use a computer with only that much color, but I no longer web browse with it. It is an old laptop with a 486 DX/4 75 cpu, 12 meg of ram, and a good keyboard. It runs windows 3.1, it runs Wordperfect 6.1, and it goes into the archives with me.

PS, read Shiela O'Malley for Dec 11..

Posted by Red Ted at 10:19 AM | TrackBack

December 11, 2003

Blog it Forward



Time for a brief shoutout before lunch. Scroll down to see what I am doing here.

Brad DeLong I was pointed to Brad's blog by Olema from Everquest - someone I used to play computer games with, think of as a good acquaintence, and have never met. You get strange combinations over the internet. DeLong is an economics professor, which is why I file him in the academic ghetto at the top of the blogroll, but he writes general punditry about politics, economics and life. I like him for the usual reasons - he is smart, he writes well, and he exhibits a curiousity about the world and not just a desire to repeat the theme of the day. Politically he is a moderate liberal, so I find it easy to agree with him, but he looks at the world with that somewhat goofy perspective that economics gives you. I was once an economic historian, I worked with economists for a while when I was a computer geek, and I miss that skewed perspective and their strange habit of trying to rigorously quantify lived experience. DeLong's commentaries are not full of numbers, don't get me wrong, but that "so how does it work" perspective that economists share with engineers shapes his political and social commentary. I read him about every other day, and I like it.

Begging to Differ
- this is a group blog. Most of what they write about is political commentary, but they include some discussions of movies, of pictures, of Sunday Comics, and so on. The neat thing about the political viewpoints here is that they are split - two liberals and two conservatives all sharing a desire to comment without getting hateful. They write well, they are a fun read, and I like the mix of opinions. I think I discovered them when they linked to me, I now read them about every other day.

Angelweave I think I discovered her through a reference to the New Blog Showcase run by the Truth Laid Bear. I might be wrong, she might also be tied into the .mu.nu clan; I do know that I like to read her stuff. She tends to write short blog entries tied to a link or other reference, and she has good taste. She also writes occasional longer pieces. I found her because of her review of Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation. I am currently reading the book and will put up my own commentary on it later. I tend to click on her page about once a day, knowing that it will probably be a sort entry that I can read quickly before getting back to work.

And there we go. More tomorrow, unless I get bored of doing shout-outs.

Posted by Red Ted at 12:09 PM | TrackBack

December 10, 2003

Blog it Forward

Via Venomous Kate, I hear about Blog it Forward. The name is pretentious; the concept is pretty cool: take a few people from your blogroll and explain why you liked them enough to blogroll them.

I like giving shout-outs to people, so I will give it a try.

I am systematic sometimes, so I will work alphabetically through the categories in my blogroll.

Crooked Timber is a group blog with an academic bias. Their politics lean to the left, but in a critical way and not a sloganeering way. I read them because (and you will see this a lot in these entries) they make me think. They hit pop culture, politics, academics, and occasionally law. They say interesting things about them. They tend to argue with some of the other people on my blogroll and, and this is the big one, I can read a random week of their entries, learn things I never knew before, re-think some things I thought I knew, and be thoroughly entertained in the process. Thanks folks.

Jack Balkin is filed among Law, Politics, and Punditry because he is essentially writing punditry - unpaid Op-ed pieces. He is yet another academic, and yet another lawyer, so he could have gone above as well. Balkin writes only about once a week, and he may well spend a week working on each item. They are smooth, well thought out, and well crafted. I can count on Jack to take an unexpected look at political events. Furthermore, our politics are pretty similar, and that makes a nice change from the knee-jerk conservativism that dominates the punditsphere. There is a strong liberal case to be made for sustaining a presence in Iraq now that GWB and friends have gotten us there. (My take - overthrowing a murdering Stalinist thug is always a good deed, but doing it at this time and in this way detracted from the immediate focus on al Qaida.) Balkin makes that case, with the addendum that the "out now" folks on the left are (my words) as irresponsible and dangerous as the folks who think that we should roll over Syria next week and Iran by March.

Gut Rumbles I am never sure how to file blogs on the blogroll - do I go by blog title or by poster name. For single-person blogs, I tend to think of them by name and not by title. Rob, aka Acidman, writes Gut Rumbles. He is Acidman on the blogroll on the left. Whatever you call him, he is a good writer. Rob serves up southern fried commentary on fatherhood, why responsible gun owners don't let anyone they love get near hunting season, the joys of raising a new dawg, and tales from his family. He has a distinctive writing style, one that stands out enough that he is now sponsoring people who try to parody his prose. I can not parody him, I am too straight, but I do admire his pacing and timing. He is a darn good storyteller, and I like a well told story. Rob is one of the first blogs I check in the morning as I drink my coffee.

There we go. I will do three more tomorrow, or maybe the next day, until I get distracted and move on.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:39 AM | TrackBack

December 05, 2003

Go Fish Go!


Kevin at Wizbang is holding the 2003 Weblog awards.

Someone, perhaps Kevin, nominated me in the Flippery Fish category, where I am competing against Sweetness Follows, some weather blogs, and some political linkblogs.

Now that I have found it, I have one vote. Yay me!

Honestly, I got my warm fuzzy just by being nominated.

If I had not voted for myself, I think I would have voted for Sweetness Follows NWS. I find that I much prefer blogs with original content over blogs that simply repeat links and news articles. That is not to say that I don't read political blogs and linkblogs, for I do, but I come back to the blogs that add value to the link.

In any case, Kevin has some slightly goofy categories - I agree with the folks at misbehaving who are disconcerted at having a category for best female blogger - but any aggregation like this is a chance to find and read some new blogs, some of which will be good. I added Kevin Walzer and Sweetness Follows to my private blogroll.

So go vote for someone.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:54 AM | TrackBack

Cat made my ears burn



Cat, from the Other Side of Darkness, made my ears burn the other day.

She talked about inherently interesting and inherently boring web logs, and at the time she wrote that rant I was one of the few logs on her link list. It was one heck of a vote of confidence, and it gave me my warm fuzzy for the day.

She has no comments, email, or trackback, so I shall use this space to say:

Thank you Cat.

The difference between a blog and a private journal is simple - one is shared, the other private. The open-ness of a blog means that while we pick and choose what we want to share with our readers, the things that we do write in our blogs we try to write well. Having an audience creates a level of expectations.

Expectations are even higher when the audience includes people whose writing I respect.

But, I write this blog as a forum for my think pieces, as a way to get ideas out of my head so that I can do my real work, and as a tool to improve my writing. If I am to improve my writing, then I darn well better have high expectations.

In any case, Cat made my ears burn, and I thank her.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:36 AM | TrackBack

December 01, 2003

Limited Blogging


As you may have noticed, I did not blog much over Thanksgiving weekend. We had people in the house, I was grading papers, and Saturday and Sunday I was trying to install Windows XP on J's computer - which turned into a nightmare.

I have been thinking about an Iraq post for a couple of weeks, turning ideas over in my head. The full thing will probably wait until after papers are returned. The direction of my thoughts at the moment is to figure out a credible Democratic alternative to the Bush policy in Iraq. Here is a sketch outline of where I think I want to go.

The Iraq war is a war of choice
We went into Iraq claiming to be part of the War on Terror.
The Iraq invasion hurt the short and medium term efforts against Al Queda in an attempt to pre-empt a long term threat.
Saddam Hussein was a fascist thug; it was a good deed to overthrow him ... but only if he is not replaced by his clone.
The Iraq invasion will work only if it
1, Creates a democratic state and
2, Furthers the culture war against, for lack of better words, Islamofascism, or Islamendom, or violent anti-modernism.

The Bush administration put the US on a path of intervention. They bought the problem, now the whole nation owns it.
It would be irresponsible to walk away from Iraq, the challenge for Democrats is to do better.
The question to ask fall into two parts, How did we get here? and Where do we go now?

How did we get here?
Bush argued that Saddam Hussein posed a clear and future danger to the U.S. and waged a pre-emptive war.
Those claims were backed by highly specific claims about American knowledge of details within Iraq.
While those overall claims have yet to be proven or disproven, their specificity has been disproven. (Everyone thought Saddam Hussein had stocks of chemical and biological weapons, plans to use them, and an active nuclear program. We found that his stocks are either destroyed or hidden, he had no plans to use chemical or biological weapons, and his development program was on hiatus until sanctions would have been eased.)
As Wesley Clark argues, the Pentagon got into Iraq by planning a war and not thinking about the aftermath. They made some assumptions, and while they have been pretty good about adjusting to changing conditions they were reacting rather than acting for the crucial first weeks after hostilities ended.
The United States is in the process of putting together a democratic government in Iraq - nation building.
For all of the above, it is in the national interest to review how we got here, figure out what decisions were made on the basis of faulty information, and improve our information-gathering and decision-making processes. That review will necessarilly be conducted in a partisan manner; the hope is that enough people will balance short-term political gains against long-term national interest.
Thus the challenge for Democrats is to position themselves as the people who just want to know how decisions were made so that they can improve the process. One way to achieve this would be the praise sandwhich, used by managers and teachers everywhere: Bush did a good job of rallying the nation after 9/11. He has not done well managing the war afterwards, for the same traits that gave us a simple and clear response then have interfered with national policy afterwards. We need to review the decision-making process to see if national leaders had the best information available to them and to see how we can improve that information in the future.

Where do we go from here?
We do not just "bring 'em home." That would be counter-productive, a betrayal of Iraqis even worse than our betrayal after the 1991 Gulph War. We would destroy American credibility and, with it, the credibility of democratic ideals.
We do build a stable democracy in Iraq.
We do work against Islamofascism.

Here I have to leave the outline. Democracy depends on the rule of law, and on a sort of institutionalized self restraint. Majorities refuse to exercise all power that they might otherwise use, knowing that they could one day become the minority. In a two-party situation, this means that the majority follows rules of procedure that both parties agree both let the folks currently in power act and leave folks currently out of power with a meaningful role. After all, they will switch some day. In a no-party or one-party situation, it gets tougher. People have to realize that the precedents they set now can and will come back to bite them when their party schisms.

Democrats can, based on the systematic pattern of behavior from the National Republican leadership, argue that the Republican party as an instititution has forgotten the basic principles of democratic rule. They are a current majority trying to make themselves into a permanent majority. In the process not only are they ignoring opposition spokesmen in Congress and changing the rules of the redistricting game mid-decade, but their assumptions about policy and dissent are crippling our actions in Iraq.

The recent brouhaha about elections in Iraq blew up because American officials on the ground ignored the complaints by senior Shiite clergymen. We had our plan, we were going to use our plan, we were not going to try to convince opposition figures to go along with it. We would just ignore him and hope he would go away - a pattern disturbingly like that shown by the content-segregated "protest zones" around Bush's public appearances. Of course, he did not go away.

So, Democrats can argue that they DO listen, that they know how to build a consensus, that they understand the workings of a democratic society, and that they would do a better job in Iraq. They can actually tie this argument into a claim that the national Republican party at home is engaged in a pattern of deception and misrule, subverting the spirit of democracy.

The other long-term goal from the Iraqi occupation is to strike a blow against Al Queda-style terrorism.
Muslim hardliners are engaged in an anti-modern confrontation that they hope to turn into a Jihad
Most of them practice an authoritarian version of Islam
I know little about the details of Wahabi-style fundamentalism as practiced in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere.
I do know that within Shiia Islam the common pattern is for Imams to read and interpret the Koran and believers to pick an Imam and then follow their rulings without questioning them.
In any case, the challenge is to discredit hardliners by offering an alternative and more attractive version of Islam
Iranian reformers, mostly Marxist Shiites, have been calling for an Islamic Reformation - more people reading scriptures directly, a lesser role for Imams - and the pluralism within Islam that comes with personal interpretation of scripture.
The long-term goal for U.S. policy should be to redirect Islamic energy from violent confrontation to constructive creation. That can be done through economic development, it can also be done through religious engagement.
The challenge is to draw on European models and adapt them to Middle Eastern and East Asian conditions.
Democrats, who are so committed to pluralism that many have trouble expressing their personal religious beliefs, are less likely to look like Christian imperialists as they work to bring pluralism within Islam.

I need to go now, but this is the direction my thoughts are leaning. If properly written up this would be 5,000 to 10,000 words. I do not have the time to write, revise, and footnote that many words.

That is the frustration of blogging - I think long, and I only have time to write short.

And so to grade papers.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:21 AM | TrackBack

November 18, 2003

Linkrot and NYT


Kevin Drum explains how to fight linkrot when linking to the NYT.

Now I have to decide if I want to read news via RSS feeds.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:06 AM | TrackBack

November 17, 2003

New Weblog Showcase


I decided to vote in TTLB's New Weblog showcase.

Since Sebastian and I had been discussing abortion, and because it was a nicely written bit of sarcasm, I picked Observation, Complaints, and Lamentations on Catholics and abortion policy as nt political blog and Sound Check for the non-political blog. Kristin's featured entry was a little lame, but the overall blog is pretty good.

I am having trouble cranking out job letters today.

Posted by Red Ted at 12:02 PM | TrackBack

July 27, 2003

Ann Coulter's Adam's Apple moved

I changed my archive system. The article on Ann Coulter's Adam's Apple can be found here.

Posted by Red Ted at 03:52 PM | TrackBack