April 21, 2011

All the Cool Kids Are Doing It: My WisCon 35 Program Schedule

Join the Mod Squad: Enhance Your Moderation Skills
Ever go to a panel and spend your time thinking, "With a good moderator, this would be a much better panel?" You won't become a hippie if you attend this panel, but we will review several ways to be that good moderator, offer tips and tricks, and generally work on improving WisCon's already high standards for panel moderation. We strongly encourage you to attend this panel if you are moderating at WisCon, especially if it's your first time. It's also a great experience if you ever have, or think you ever will, be a panel moderator anywhere.
Assembly, Fri, 4:00–5:15 pm
M: Alan Bostick. Ann Crimmins, Christopher Davis, Beverly Friend, Elise Matthesen

If Someone You Know Has Been Affected by Slacktivism, Please Post This as Your Status
Retweeting, changing your userpic, uploading a video ... is this just a substitute for actual activism? Is this "slacktivism" helpful or hurtful? Are some methods better than others? Does it depend on the cause? Does it matter who started the meme? How do we counter slacktivism or move beyond it to effect real change?
Conference 5, Sat, 4:00–5:15 pm
M: Alan Bostick. Andy Best, E. Cabell Hankinson Gathman, Rosemary / Sophy, Xakara

"The Personal is Political" Revisited
The title of Carol Hanishch's 1969 essay "The personal is political" became one of the best-known slogans of the feminist movement. Women were challenged to see their life circumstances not as individual situations of choice, but within a broader context of gendered oppression and societal structural inequalities. The panelists will look at the intersections between the personal and political in their activist work, and will examine the meaning and relevance of the slogan today.
Capitol A, Sun, 10:00–11:15 am
M: Susan Marie Groppi. Susan Simensky Bietila, Alan Bostick, Karen Ireland-Phillips, Pamela K. Taylor

Your Fandom is OK!
It's important to remember that just because you don't like a particular fandom, you don't have the right to put down those who do. (We're looking at you, Twilight haters!) Everyone's fandom is OK! In this panel, we'll discuss why this is true, and what we can do to encourage better understanding among all members of fandom.
Conference 4, Sun, 1:00–2:15 pm
M: Trisha J. Wooldridge. Molly Aplet, Alan Bostick, Caroline Pruett, Xakara

(WisCon 35 will be held at the Concourse Hotel, Madison, Wisconsin, on May 26-30, 2011)

Posted by abostick at 10:32 AM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2008

Fafblog Returns!

Fafnir is back, and Giblets has got him!

(via just about everyone)

Posted by abostick at 11:37 AM | Comments (0)

February 26, 2008

As I Please Celebrates Its Fifth Blogiversary

Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday
Originally uploaded by ameliatzeni.
Five years ago today, I posted my first entry to As I Please.

Thanks to all my loyal readers — and I continue to be amazed that I have them.

My next milestone will happen next month, when, unless things go very much amiss, I expect to collect my first Google AdSense check.


Posted by abostick at 07:38 AM | Comments (1)

February 04, 2008

Blogroll Policy Explained

Blogroll Amnesty Day has come and gone. This is a good opportunity to reiterate once more the As I Please blogroll and linking policy:

A blog is guaranteed a spot on the As I Please blogroll if and only if the blog's publisher has sex with me. That's the only way you're guaranteed a link. For group blogs, only one co-blogger needs to sleep with me to get that blog on my blogroll. Acceptance of any offer made, and determination of what constitutes "sex" is at my sole discretion. Don't even bother emailing me to ask for a link exchange.

That's the only way to guarantee a spot on my blogroll, but because I'm a generous guy, I also link to blogs whom I mention in my posts, but that's on an arbitrary and ad hoc basis.


Posted by abostick at 10:19 PM | Comments (3)

January 15, 2008

More on the Gizmodo CES Prank

Gizmodo's Brian Lam has written an apology for the TV-Be-Gone stunt at the Consumer Electronics Show last week which is one of the least apologetic apologies since the death of Socrates. Lam claims that running through the exhibition hall with a remote control was an act of civil disobedience: "Our prank pays homage to the notion of independence and independent reporting. ... In this job, integrity and independence is far more important than civil or corporate obedience." If you say so.

Fake Steve Jobs, ready for Macworld, gives Lam a stern warning:

I just want to send out this warning to Gizmodo and anyone else who might be thinking about blasting out TV screens at Macworld: Think twice, losers. Because we will not be banning you from our show. We'll be fucking tasering you right there on the floor. Then, when you're lying there on the floor in shock, we'll carry you off the floor and put you on a plane and rendition your ass to someplace so awful you'll be praying for death. I mean it.
Originally uploaded by violet.blue.
Violet Blue isn't listening to Fake Steve Jobs. Her Macworld survival pack includes the same homebrew infrared TV zapper that the Gizmodo kids used at CES. Fake Steve is silent on the subject of M1 firecrackers, also included in the kit, so I guess they are okay. I hope Violet has a blast at Macworld this week.
Posted by abostick at 01:03 PM | Comments (0)

January 11, 2008

Gizmodo's CES Prank Rocks the Boat, Threatens Blogger Perks

Gizmodo's editorial team pulled a stunt at CES. They took a TV-Be-Gone remote clicker and ran wild in the exhibition hall, extinguishing arrays of flat-screen displays as they went. Watch the video on the Gizmodo page. It's pretty funny, if you're the sort of person who likes calling up the local butcher shop and asking if they have pig's feet. ("You better wear shoes!") Shutting down Panasonic's Wall O' HDTV is a hoot. Shutting down the Motorola press demo repeatedly would be funny if the frontman were Judge Smails, but it's a bit much for some unfortunate PR flack just trying to do his job.

John Biggs at CrunchGear responds. Tech blogging, it seems, has finally found its place at the table, and the Gizmodo stunt might get everyone cut off from the free booze and schwag. Bloggers should grow up, Biggs tells us, because, well, it's grown-up. (Yeah, right, knock off these juvenile stunts and be like real journalists, like Chris Matthews or Maureen Dowd.)

The bitch-slapping between bloggers who get more traffic in a minute than I get in a week might be motivated in part by the fact that Gizmodo is part of Nick Denton's Gawker Media, while CrunchGear is owned by Michael Arrington. Are the rival Blog Empires getting snippy with each other?

Posted by abostick at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)

January 06, 2008

BoingBoingBingo! Livens Up the Boing Boing Reading Experience

Boing Boing Bingo!
Originally uploaded by Aaron Landry.
If you are finding that the pleasures of reading Boing Boing are not what they used to be, you may be able to add some spice to your flagging relationship with Mark, Xeni, David, and Cory by playing BoingBoingBingo! Certainly it is easier on your liver than the Boing Boing Drinking Game ("Swallow a shot each time you read about a new translation of Cory's talk on DRM.... Drain your glass when David blogs about an artist who paints waif-like women with big eyes and/or big breasts....")

(via Violet Blue)

Posted by abostick at 11:50 AM | Comments (0)

January 03, 2008

Blatant Egotistical Self-Promotion

Those of you with memories of '60s television shows might appreciate a comment I posted to The Sideshow. Avedon Carol appreciated it; she promoted it to her front page, and even linked to it when she started an open thread on Eschaton.

The backstory is that Matt Yglesias is both a prominent liberal blogger and a junior member of the community of opinion-shapers called "the Villagers" by Atrios, Digby, and others. Atrios and Digby were probably inspired by M. Night Shyamalan, but my twisted brain went in another direction.

Posted by abostick at 04:29 PM | Comments (2)

June 20, 2007

The Blog Echo Chamber in Action

It is interesting to follow the chain of referrals when a hot story goes through the blogosphere.

The original article is from Ken Fisher at Ars Technica. Read the money quote:

NBC/Universal general counsel Rick Cotton suggests that society wastes entirely too much money policing crimes like burglary, fraud, and bank-robbing when it should be doing something about piracy instead.

"Our law enforcement resources are seriously misaligned," Cotton said. "If you add up all the various kinds of property crimes in this country, everything from theft, to fraud, to burglary, bank-robbing, all of it, it costs the country $16 billion a year. But intellectual property crime runs to hundreds of billions [of dollars] a year." Cotton's comments come in Paul Sweeting's report on Hollywood's latest shenanigans on Capitol Hill.

Susie Madrak at Suburban Guerilla cited Ars Technica. Lance Mannion cited Susie Madrak. And Avedon Carol at The Sideshow cited Lance Mannion. Neither Lance Mannion nor Avedon Carol appeared to follow the chain of links to the source.

Why not do a modicum of checking, at the very least to get a sense of the context in which the original quote appears?

This sort of linking at a distance makes sense to me only if what one is trying to do is not directly link to an objectionable source, e.g., if you don't people to be able to get from your blog to a hate site or a porn site or whatever sort of site it is that sinks your boat. Otherwise, you are adding to a chain of interpretation that becomes less and less about what was originally said.

Last week I got my moment in the sun and 8,000 extra visitors when Avedon, late-night guest-blogging at Eschaton, pointed to what I wrote about Sidney Blumenthal's Salon piece on character references for Scooter Libby. But there's something a tad incestuous about this: It was Avedon who pointed me to the Blumenthal piece. Her hook was the Manchurian Candidate reference Blumenthal used as his lede. My hook was how Paul Wolfowitz can't seem to do anything right -- to which Blumenthal gave more column-inches and seemed to me to be the point of the article.

My sense of how blogging should work is that we should all be linking to the Blumenthal piece, and maybe commenting why. Perhaps the explanation should say why and whether a net-surfer with arbitrary interests would want to follow the link. Not everyone is a Digby, but I rather think that adding something -- a new angle, a different point of view, a connection to some other idea -- makes a better post than just picking up someone else's link.

And I continue to think it is a good idea to get off the beaten track to find content to inject into the blog conversation.

But who knows? Maybe these chains of referrals and multiply recursive links are the firing of the synapses of the blogospheric group mind. If so, it's interesting to consider that we're watching in a way, the thought process of something greater than ourselves.

Posted by abostick at 08:37 AM | Comments (0)

June 10, 2007

Boing Boing Jumps the Shark

Jumping the Shark
image credit: Wikipedia
It's official: Boing Boing, the blog that delivers 100% of the Recommended Daily Allowance of narcissism, has jumped the shark, with Mark Frauendfelder's blogging of what he calls the "world's cutest goatse picture." [Can anything that evokes the original goatse picture be truly considered SFW?]

This comes just two days after David Pescowitz said Friday of Skytyping, a familiar form of skywriting that's been around for years, "It may not be new, but I've never seen it before...." It's only a matter of time before him or one of his co-bloggers write excitedly something like "Botts' Dots warn drivers when they stray from their highway lane!" Or perhaps an enthusiastic pointer to models of a Steampunk submarine.

Soon after that, Boing Boing will collapse under the weight of its own hipness into a gravitational singularity from whose event horizon no intelligible signal will escape.

Posted by abostick at 05:14 PM | Comments (0)

June 09, 2007

Why — and How — Blogging Matters

The Huffington Post published a speech on blogging given by Jay Rosen to the International Communication Association last month. Here is the money quote:

The most famous words ever written about freedom of the press are in the U.S. Constitution: "Congress shall make no law..." But the second most famous words come from the critic A.J. Liebling: "freedom of the press belongs to those who own one." Well, freedom of the press still belongs to those who own one, and blogging means practically anyone can own one. That is the Number One reason why blogs — and this discussion — matter.

With blogging, an awkward term, we designate a fairly beautiful thing: the extension to many more people of a free press franchise, the right to publish your thoughts to the world.

Wherever blogging spreads the dramas of free expression follow. A blog, you see, is a little First Amendment machine.

I've been thinking along these lines for years. I think it is worth adding that if the server that hosts your blog is owned by Google, News Corporation, Six Apart, or any other third party coming between you and your audience, the freedom of the press is theirs, not yours, and they extend it to you only by courtesy. That courtesy can be withdrawn at any time, as we have seen so often.

Posted by abostick at 12:58 PM | Comments (0)

May 14, 2007

On Pseudonymity in Blogging

"Freedom of the press," journalist A. J. Liebling quipped, "is guaranteed only to those who own one."

Tom Grubisich, writing an op-ed in the Washington Post, would have us believe that the same is true of freedom of speech.

Ezra Klein gets the ears and tail:

I'll start running background checks on my readers if Grubisich and his colleagues consents to some symmetrical constraints: If they write something stupid, inflammatory, or wrong, they will lose their jobs. If what you want is for new entrants to the public sphere to feel more vulnerable when participating, it's only fair that you do the same.

(via just about everyone)

Posted by abostick at 10:14 PM | Comments (0)

May 08, 2007

Diversity and the Progressive Blogosphere

Jenifer Fernandez Acona deserves a medal for her patient and thorough explanation on MyDD of what it means to foster diversity in an activist organization or movement.

She is responding to a series of posts at MyDD by Chris Bowers about the relationship fostering diversity holds to MyDD's mission of progressive electoral politics. Blogging is a niche, Bowers says, and the demographics of that niche are heavily male and overwhelmingly white and economically privileged. As long as progressive bloggers are not actively exclusive, he asserts, there is no particular onus on progressive bloggers to promote or emphasize diversity in their own blogs.

I say that's hogwash. As an American, Chris Bowers, like me, is a citizen of an essentially racist culture with an elaborate and far-reaching complex of institutions and beliefs that automatically favor people like Chris Bowers and me at the expense of women, people of color, and other groups at society's margins. Because this system is automatic, Chris and I don't need to notice it at work. Affluent white men like us are generally unaware of the system's workings, and so it is easy for us to not take it into account. This means we don't have to question why most of the people who turn out to be writing about politics are affluent white men like us.

When Chris says that he's working on Important Matters here and that this diversity stuff only gets in his way, he is actively strengthening our culture's infrastructure of racism and sexism, even if he believes with all his heart that he is not.

That's why what Jenifer Fernandez Acona is saying is so important. Teaching Diversity 101 to the white guys is difficult and frustrating. Activist people of color find themselves doing it over and over and over again, and they get tired of it. One of the dynamics of racism is that it is well-nigh impossible for us white guys to work those dynamics out for ourselves, while at the same time it is grossly unfair to ask our victims to take on the additional burden of showing us the way. People like Fernandez Acona who actually take that burden on, even for a little while, deserve our thanks.

As an aside, the apparent whiteness of the blogosphere is illusory, and there are rather more women and people of color writing blogs than people realize, because readers assume by default that everyone in the blogosphere is a white man until and unless it is proven otherwise.

Fernandez Acona passes on a list of things that social change groups should be doing to include diversity in their agendas. She quotes her friend and colleague Daraka Larimore-Hall:

Here are some steps that white students can take to begin the process of building an anti racist movement:

  • Include racial justice issues in your organizational discussions and analysis.

  • Commit to doing serious work against racism as part of your organizing and to forming meaningful, principled alliances with people of color organizations in your communities.
  • Make sure that your agenda isn't set before considering the goals and demands of activists of color. Too often, white activists think of the issues that they are working on as "universal" and approach activists of color asking them to join their "big tent". Why aren't white activists holding themselves accountable in the same way and viewing racism as a universal concern?
  • Take steps to create a more tolerant culture within your own organization. Sometimes, white culture is "invisible", meaning that methods of work, choice of music, food, ways of communicating, etc., are thought of as "progressive" ways of doing things, instead of "white progressive" ways of doing things. One way should not be held up as "authentically progressive", especially when that cultural form is typically or historically white.
  • Consider the needs of people of different backgrounds than your own. Can people with jobs attend your meetings? What about people with children? What email list or social scene do you have to be a part of, to hear about meetings?
  • Work to build long term, authentic and trusting relationships with organizations led by people of color in your community. As we stated above, white activists are prone to "shopping" for minorities. Too often, when it comes time to host a conference or chose speakers for a rally, white activist organizations are out looking for brown faces, when they haven't supported the daily work of anti-racist organizations all year long.
  • Speak up when people of color in your community are being attacked! Don't wait for the Black Student Union on your campus to write all the letters to the editor of your student newspaper. It is time for white people to police their own communities around these issues — after all, whose responsibility is it to fight racism in the white community?
  • Listen harder, and better. Too often, white activists try to be the savior — instead of the ally. One of the legacies of the early Civil Rights Movement's organizing style, which came from people like Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer and Bob Moses of SNCC, was the deeply rooted belief that there is no one who knows more about the experience of oppression than those who are oppressed themselves. Simply put, go to meetings of people of color organizations, find out what they are up to, and help out. Period.

(Klonsky, Amanda, and Daraka Larimore-Hall: "Ain't Gonna Let Segregation Turn Us 'Round: Thoughts on Building an Inter-Racial and Anti Racist Student Movement." School of the Americas Watch, http://www.soaw.org/article.php?id=490)

The only change I would make in that list would be to put the last item, "Listen harder, and better" at the top of the list rather than at the bottom. Listening to and learning from people at the margins comes before anything else.

Posted by abostick at 02:18 PM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2007

Get Out of the Blog Echo Chamber — Del.icio.us Finds You Interesting Things on the Web Before Others Find Them.

The typical blogger reads BoingBoing (or Daily Kos, or Michelle Malkin, or Lifehacker, or [name of the top-ranked site in your favorite genre]) and sees something interesting, neat, outrageous, urgent, etc. Immediately, the typical blogger posts about it. So there grows an explosion of links pointing back to the post in the top-ranked blog.

A large number of bloggers wind up posting about the same things, and, all too often, saying close to the same things about them.

That's all well and good if your readers are people like your ex-boyfriend who still keeps up with you, or your mom, or that friend from two jobs ago whom you get together with for drinks every month or so. That's your role in the social circle, to tell them about David Letterman's video of the Top Ten Bush Moments. But if you want other bloggers to notice you and give you lots of link-love, you've got to give them something they haven't seen before.

Here is how I find interesting things to blog about that are off the beaten track:

  1. Sign up with del.icio.us.
  2. Bookmark and tag everything on the web that takes up any of your mindshare. Love it? Hate it? Tag it! Be generous with tags. Do this for every page that catches your attention. Yes, it is extra effort and slows surfing down. It's worth it.
  3. Subscribe to your top tags. When you have accumulated a couple of hundred del.icio.us bookmarks, look at your list of tags, ordered by frequency. Take the top five, or ten, or however many you want, and use del.icio.us's subscription feature.
  4. Review your subscriptions. Click on the subscriptions link at the top of your page, and start browsing. Click on the links that stand out as something that looks interesting to you. This is an ideal way to use the tabbed browsing feature of Firefox or Safari.
  5. Look at the sites you have found. Some of them may not be as interesting as you first thought they might. Skip them. But you very likely will have found a few gold nuggets. Bookmark and tag these.
  6. Review your main bookmarks page. You now have a list of new sites that you found through subscriptions. Pick out the ones that are the best fodder for your blog posts and blog them.

Lather, rinse, repeat. Keep going through this cycle, and you will find yourself casting your net much farther than you could without the help of del.icio.us., and you will be finding things that are much more likely to have not come to the attention to the people in your local network of blog links.

Posted by abostick at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2007

April 23 Is International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day!

A specter is haunting science fiction and fantasy: the specter of International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day.

Howard Hendrix started it. He's the outgoing vice-president of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. Will Shetterly posted (with Howard's permission) Hendrix's farewell rant address to the SFWA community on LiveJournal. Hendrix, among other things, decried the practice of making professional-quality work available on the Internet for free, calling the people who did so "webscabs," who were contributing to "the downward spiral that is converting the noble calling of Writer into the life of Pixel-stained Technopeasant Wretch."

As you can imagine, this generated a lot of heat. Both John Scalzi and Nick Mamatas have posted thoughtful rebuttals. But it is Jo Walton's response that is galvanizing the creative Web:

In honour of Dr Hendrix, I am declaring Monday 23rd April International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day. On this day, everyone who wants to should give away professional quality work online. It doesn't matter if it's a novel, a story or a poem, it doesn't matter if it's already been published or if it hasn't, the point is it should be disseminated online to celebrate our technopeasanthood.

Whatever you're posting should go on your own site. I'll make a post here on the day and people can post links in comments to whatever they're putting up on. If you are a member of SFWA, or SFWA qualified but not a member (like me) you get extra pixel-spattered points for doing this. If other people want to collect the links too, that would be really cool. Please disseminate this information widely.

Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Wretches of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!

Posted by abostick at 04:21 PM | Comments (1)

April 20, 2007

How Much Is Your Blog Worth?

Del.icio.us found me this clicky-form applet this morning that ought to be of interest to all sorts of bloggers: How Much Is Your Blog Worth? from Dane Carlson's Business Opportunities Weblog.

Carlson's applet queries Technorati for information that it uses to compute a URL's value. Folded into that computation is the estimated value of an inbound link derived from AOL's purchase price of Weblogs, Inc.

As all thirty or so of my regular readers have noticed by now, I have taken a new interest in finding ways to get at least some money out of As I Please. So estimators of the worth of my blog are of more than academic interest to me.

So of course I pasted my URL into the box and clicked on the button. The number that came out surprised me: When I convert the lump sum it represents into a cash flow with the same present value, the number I get is in the middle of the ballpark I estimate for the Google AdSense revenue I expect based on a very few day's results and my current traffic figures.

In other words, Carlson's estimator for blog value may be a good one.

Posted by abostick at 02:38 PM | Comments (3)

April 17, 2007

Moderation, Kathy Sierra, and the Blogger's Code of Conduct

Teresa Nielsen Hayden has weighed in on the subject of the Blogger's Code of Conduct:

Bloggers can ban anonymous comments or not, as they please. The problem isn’t commenter anonymity; it’s abusive behavior by anonymous or semi-anonymous commenters. Furthermore, the kind of jerks who post comments that need to be deleted will infallibly cry “censorship!” when it happens, no matter what O’Reilly and Wales say.

Anyone who’s read ML for more than a couple of months has watched this happen. Commenters who are smacked down for behaving like jerks are incapable of understanding (or refuse to admit) that it happened because they were rude, not because the rest of us can’t cope with their dazzlingly original opinions. It’s a standard piece of online behavior. How can O’Reilly and Wales not know that?

What's interesting about this behavior is that "rudeness" is locally defined. Someone can be a welcome and valuable participant in the comment threads of one blog, say Majikthise, and at the same time drastically transgress the norms of another, like Pandagon, and never understand the norms they have transgressed. The real mistake they make is that of assuming that common courtesy is in fact common and not an arbitrary social construction that is constructed differently in different social venues.

Everyone taking part in this discussion (and yes, this means you) should drop what they are doing and read Clay Shirky's essay "A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy."

Shirky quotes one Geoff Cohen as saying, The likelihood that any unmoderated group will eventually get into a flame-war about whether or not to have a moderator approaches one as time increases. This is what the argument over the Blogger's Code of Conduct is really about. There is a widespread perception that Tim O'Reilly, Jimmy Wales, and their supporters are trying to impose moderation on the blogosphere. Much of the derision O'Reilly et al. are receiving comes from the expectation that O'Reilly calling upon the blogosphere to comply with the BCC will be every bit as effective as King Canute calling upon the waves on the sea to calm.

Nobody in their right mind who runs a blog that allows commenting at all can afford to take a absolutist position on free speech, not without their blog comments becoming overrun with comment spam. And while some comments are obviously legitimate and some are obviously spam, there isn't a bright line that separates the two. To deal with comment spam, a blogger has to harden her heart to the possibility of deleting messages that might not be spam but legitimate attempts at self expression. And which side of the line belong messages that are clearly bloggers trolling for some link-love? Comment spam has cost us our censorship cherry. Comment spam is the proof that no online discussion forum that is open in an infinite world can exist without moderation.

The substance of the BCC is reprehensible. Nevertheless, any community, online or otherwise, needs to have mechanisms in place to reinforce social norms.

Of course, one aspect of the Kathy Sierra affair is that it was an example of those norms at work: the norm of sexism in the world of tech. This is what keeps getting swept under the rug. Teresa Nielsen Hayden, to her credit, makes sure that it is part of the discussion.

Posted by abostick at 03:28 PM | Comments (1)

April 15, 2007

Does the Blogger's Code of Conduct Make the Blogosphere More Corporate-Friendly?

Looking at the Blogger's Code of Conduct and the reaction to it from the political blogosphere, Lindsay Beyerstein puts the pieces together and asks, cui buono?

The architects of the BCC are major tech bloggers/biz bloggers in Silicon Valley.

There's widespread suspicion in the liberal political blogosphere that the BCC is an attempt to smuggle in corporate-friendly comment moderation policies under the guise of "civility." Why else would they bother? A voluntary code of conduct like the BCC one isn't really about protecting citizens who speak out online, it's about creating an environment that's safe for major advertisers.

And, in passing, Lindsay dishes out implicit high praise to me by mentioning and linking my previous post on the BCC in the same sentence as those of Kos, Bitch Ph.D., and Pandagon. That's some company to be placed among (even if Kos' post is particularly fuggheaded).

Posted by abostick at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2007

Blogger's Code of Conduct: Bitch, Ph.D., Nails It

Dr. B. rips the Tim O'Reilly's Blogger Code of Conduct to teeny little pieces:

Blah blah, "we restrict comments that aren't civil." "We won't say anything online we wouldn't say in person." "We'll resolve inter-blog spats through private email rather than posting about them." "If someone's being a dick, we'll ask them to stop, pretty please, before we call the cops." "We won't allow pseudonyms." "We'll ignore trolls." "We want hosting sites to police blogs."

Break me a fucking give, people. It's not that fucking hard. Yes, anonymous publishing makes some people act like dickheads. Yes, blogspats are silly wastes of time. Yeah, basic standards of rational argument are good things. Yeah, trolls suck.

But (1) the main problem in the Sierra case was rampant misogyny, and I don't see any "We won't tolerate racism or sexism" up there. And (2) Pseudonymity is not the problem. The fact of the matter is that an established pseudonym is at least as much of a "check" on assholishness as the real name of someone no one's ever heard of; "Bitch, Ph.D." has a reputation to maintain (of sorts), and that's one reason she doesn't say dumbass shit. (I realize that this is debatable. What I mean is I won't threaten people or out them or otherwise act like an asshole.)

The real "solution" to assholes on the internet is for bloggers, site moderators, etc. to fucking read and participate in their own comment threads. If the blogger him- or herself is an asshole, then they'll allow assholes to comment there. Not much you can do about that: assholes exist, and they, too, can often type. If the blogger isn't an asshole, they'll delete, argue with, or shut down asshole comments, according to their personal tastes.

I, personally, find that the simple policy of "obnoxious comments will be deleted" works just great. I don't give a shit if people swear or are "incivil" about things that, imho, don't deserve civil treatment--and if someone disagrees that, say, sexist nonsense doesn't deserve civility, then they can read another blog, or they can argue with me in comments. So fuck that civility shit. I'm entirely pro-pseudonym: since I care, in fact, about writing — as any blogger damn well should — and I'm not a moron, I know perfectly well that pseudonyms allow writers to create different personae, to try different voices, and to protect their personal or professional lives (the threats against Kathy Sierra demonstrating *precisely why* bloggers, especially women, need the option of using pseudonyms, thankyouverymuchMr.HighHorseIUseMyOwnName).

I do care about people who create what in academic and legal circles gets called a "hostile environment." Sexist, racist, or homophobic bullshit either gets deleted or left up as an example of assholishness to which I, or other regular commenters, respond accordingly. Physical threats — except for obvious hyperbole like "I'd like to smack Larry Summers" — would get deleted, maybe, or else retained on purpose in case evidence were needed at some later date. Somewhere back in a very old comment thread there is a rape threat against me that I have left up for that very purpose (and no, I am not going to tell you where it is). I think bloggers (hello, Michelle Malkin, you fucking hypocrite) who "out" people's personal information are assholes — and I don't see *that* little piece of bullshit on the "blogger code of conduct," probably because it thinks pseudonymous commenting is inherently suspect.

In fact, the current draft of the Blogger's Code of Conduct forbids telling the truth about the Church of Scientology, or publicizing the defects of Diebold electronic voting machines on the grounds that all revealing of trade secrets and any violation of copyright is "uncivil."

The whole notion of "civility" is fundamentally flawed. As psychologist Arnold Mindell points out in his book Sitting in the Fire and elsewhere, the demand for civility and politeness is often used by people at the centers of power to enforce silence upon the powerless people of the margins. Any expression of rage or hurt deriving from the experience of being oppressed can be defined as "uncivil" and therefore ignored, with its underlying merit never being considered.

I for one am not going to take calling Tim O'Reilly and the Tech Boys Club on their sexist shit to private email to avoid escalation. He is publicly diverting the discourse away from his and his buddies' misogyny. The public deserves a public response.

Posted by abostick at 01:58 PM | Comments (1)

April 07, 2007

Weird Surge of Searches for the Originator of "Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction"

Something weird is happening in referrals to As I Please. I am getting a relative storm of search hits, searching on the string "'truth is stranger than fiction' originator" and landing on my post about anti-evolution state legislators forwarding information from moonbat site Fixedearth.com. In fact, that post comes up as number three on Google's search result for that string. The first hit came at 5:03 AM, from a computer in Florida, i.e. 8:03 AM local time. I cannot find out, at least through quick googling, what it is that has gotten so much interest in the originator of the phrase "truth is stranger than fiction." I am speculating that it pertains to something in a television or radio broadcast that went out at 8:00 AM EDT. As I write this, I've gotten forty-five hits this morning on that one page, and it is only 10:30 AM. What the heck is going on? Why are people suddenly interested in this?

I cannot say this authoritatively, but it looks as if the originator of the phrase "Truth is stranger than fiction" may be Josiah Henson, a fugitive slave who escaped to Canada and published an autobiography, The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada, as Narrated by Himself in 1849. After the success of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin he published in 1858 an expanded version of his slave narrative, Truth Stranger Than Fiction. Father Henson's Story of His Own Life. Henson is widely believed to be the inspiration of Stowe's highly successful and influential novel.

Update: It's the clue for #3 down in this morning's New York Times crossword puzzle [no link provided, because it's behind the paywall]. Thanks to commenter Steve for the information.

(Using Google to help solve crossword puzzles? What's the world coming to?)

Update #2: It wasn't Josiah Henson, it was Lord Byron:

'Tis strange — but true; for truth is always strange;
Stranger than fiction: if it could be told,
How much would novels gain by the exchange!
How differently the world would men behold!

(Don Juan, canto 14)

Hat tip to Carol in the comments.

Posted by abostick at 10:28 AM | Comments (2)

How Hard Is It for a Blogger to Get the Word Out?

Avedon Carol writes about what it took to get wider attention to Orrin Hatch's lies about purged US Attorney Carol Lam:

Just as a point of reference: I tried for two days push that story about Orrin Hatch's lies about Carol Lam, and aside from Little Thom, no one seemed to notice. In despair, I tried doing the "diary" post at Kos. Nuthin' — didn't even rate a diary rescue. It wasn't until I noticed the comment counter for the last open thread at Eschaton veering up over 800 and linked to Thom's post for a new thread last night that it got any traction — and then suddenly Kos himself picked it up, and so did Think Progress, Josh Marshall, and Hilzoy. And only today did I hear the story on Sam Seder and Thom Hartmann's Air America shows, even though the original spark for the story was Rachel Maddow's show - and she'd also been trying to push the story.

I'm not saying this as a criticism of individuals, but I thought this was a good story and I have to say I find it frustrating that if Atrios hadn't given me the keys to his rig ages ago, it probably would have disappeared. I really wish I knew a better way to get a story out — this is the kind of thing Peter Daou used to use as a lesson in message spread. The Sideshow is one of the more well-known of the "smaller" blogs, but the story didn't move at all — even though it started on Air America — until it hit Duncan's front page. (It's proliferating, now.)

Avedon pushes story. Avedon guest-blogs it at Eschaton. Story takes off. Hatch winds up with egg on his face and issues a mealymouthed correction. Advantage: Avedon.

Even a year ago, Atrios, Josh Marshall, and Markos Moulitsas could sing about the story in three-part harmony every day for a month, and the only media attention it would get would be from Dan Froomkin. Things are changing, and for the better.

There's a piece of me that is wondering why Avedon is frustrated. She flogged the story for two whole days before it took off. Most of us don't have that sort of blogging mojo.

A repeating leitmotif of blogging, repeated over and over again across the political spectrum and from the A-list to the farthest reaches of the Long Tail, is "They aren't listening to me! What do I have to do to be heard?" It seems to me that Avedon is occupying this role here, and not being fully aware of the ways in which they are listening to her.

Avedon's story highlights, though, one of the issues of the blogosphere as it grows; As its higher reaches get more exposure in the wider world, what mechanisms exist for stories that start in the blogosphere's roots to bring the stories that matter up the trunk and to its higher branches to get that story? How can diarists in Kos's walled garden most effectively have their diaries rescued? How can a C- or D-list blogger craft a post so that the B-list takes notice and passes it up to the A-list? Can the social-networking and folksonomy sites like del.icio.us and Digg play a role to facilitate this? Are there pathologies of the blogosphere that get in the way of information transmission along its pathways?

I have nothing resembling answers to these questions; but it's high time people started thinking about them and discussing them in detail.

Posted by abostick at 10:03 AM | Comments (0)

April 06, 2007

Why Your Blog Sucks

8) You tell people to watch videos on the Web without actually linking to them.

Posted by abostick at 02:33 PM | Comments (2)

April 02, 2007

Kathy Sierra and Chris Locke Publish Coordinated Statements

Kathy Sierra, target of misogynistic, sexualized death threats, and Chris Locke, owner of at least one of the now-dark sites where the threats were posted, issued coordinated statements yesterday in anticipation of their interviews on CNN this morning.

Quoth Kathy Sierra:

The firestorm around my post is both heartening and terrible. Chris told me himself that he believes I was right to speak out on this. However, my post led many people to the wrong conclusion about the specific levels of involvement by the people I named. That my one post touched a nerve for tens of thousands of people shows just how wide and deep this problem is. People are outraged not just because of my story, but because it's been a growing problem that's hurt the lives of so many others online. But Chris and I felt that if we — of all people — could demonstrate that we could see past the anger, connect with each other, and learn something together, maybe we could help encourage others to have a more calm, rational productive discussion. We should be talking about it, not reacting, over-reacting, and counter-reacting.

Quoth Chris Locke:

It's true [Kathy and I] laughed, but not at the core issues. No one was laughing about the offensive words and images that were posted to the blogs I was involved with. The material Kathy quoted on her site was hurtful and ugly. I do not excuse it or think it should be excused. Some of the things that were posted about her were admittedly frightening, and far beyond tasteless. The post about Maryam Scoble was cruel and disgusting. These postings prompted the decision to delete both blogs (and not, as has been reported, Terms of Service violations, which were assessed retroactively).

As an aside, I want to point out Joann Walsh's piece on Salon, "Men who hate women on the Web," the best piece I've seen yet on the whole matter.

(via Hugh McLeod)

Posted by abostick at 07:14 PM | Comments (0)

Shakespeare's Sister Has Moved to Shakesville

Update your blogrolls, bookmarks, and feed aggregators: Shakespeare's Sister has a new name and a new address: Shakesville, at http://www.shakesville.com/.

Posted by abostick at 04:42 PM | Comments (1)

Driving Traffic Down the Long Tail of the Blogosphere

I made a comment in Sarah Dopp's blog Dopp Juice yesterday. She had included in her post about SXSWi namedropping a link to Jason Calacanis, owner of Weblogs, Inc. and therefore of several top-ranked blogs, scoffing about the existence of the A-list and reinforcing the myth of the blogosphere as pure meritocracy. I challenged Calacanis' claim, pointed to the New York Magazine article that Terrance of The Republic of T cited in his Blogroll Purge post, and mentioned that neither Calacanis nor Nick Denton, owner of the other half of the A-list, do anything to drive traffic down the blogosphere's Long Tail.

It occurred to me after I posted that one framing of the problem that skippy and the others have been raising around the Great Blogroll Purge is the problem of how to drive traffic further down the long tail of the blogosphere. Too many people are looking up the tail, and not enough are looking downwards. The people at the top can only look downward, and so to the extent that they link to any other blogs at all, they are not the problem. A big piece of the problem is that the people below the top are looking too much up at the top and not enough down the tail. This is the essential problem and nature of blogrolls: we notice what is more prominent and ignore what is less prominent, and stratification results. Because everyone reads Eschaton, everyone links to it. Nobody links to what nobody notices, and because nobody links to it, nobody notices it. It's tautological.

Perhaps one can mitigate this by creating a culture and value of looking down the tail rather than up. But it's not enough to promote this as a value; people have to adopt it, and put it into practice. Lip service isn't enough.

An alternative though would be to try to build institutions and resources that by their nature bring people's attention down the long tail. In his original article about the long tail phenomenon, Chris Anderson made particular reference to a music site's "If you like this artist, you may well like these..." feature that can get a user in a couple of clicks from Britney Spears to some interesting and idiosyncratic singer-songwriters in just a few clicks.

Right now I am envisioning a site that combines a feed aggregator, tagging features of del.icio.us, and a recommendation engine. (Bloglines has a recommendation engine, but it is biased towards the high end of the blogosphere.) It would have all those Web 2.0 features we have come to love, like a social network. Perhaps it even, like Tribe, has discussion forums and a blogging platform. With a blogging platform, though, that would build in a tendency to favor the site's own blogs over the outside world, and that's not good. I don't want it to be a walled garden; I want it to be something that contributes to the improvement of the outside world.

I'm not a Web entrepreneur, and I don't have the programming chops to build such a thing from scratch. What can I do to make something like this happen?

Ultimately here, the point isn't to build up My Thing, it is to do something that both exploits and celebrates the richness of the long tail of the blogosphere.

Posted by abostick at 10:54 AM | Comments (3)

March 30, 2007

The Great Blogroll Purge of 2007

Terrance of The Republic of T has just posted a recap of the Great Blogroll Purge of 2007, a.k.a Blogroll Amnesty, or BAD.

On January 14, Atrios declared that February 3 would be Blogroll Amnesty Day. In a turn of phrasing that perhaps was a bit too Orwellian for many people's comfort, the "amnesty" involved was to be a blanket pardon from recrimination for anyone who wanted to prune their blogroll.

Now Atrios can declare a day Blogroll Amnesty Day, and so could I, and so could any blogger, but will the amnesty come when he doth call for it? Not this time.

Blogroll Amnesty Day came, and Atrios cleaned out his blogroll. So did the Daily Kos, and so did a number of other prominent liberal/left political bloggers.

And Blogtopia (y!sctp!) erupted into the sort of frenzy of recrimination like unto what LiveJournal does when a polyamorous household breaks up acrimoniously, with one faction taking the kids, another taking the house, and a third taking the domain name; and everyone dropping everyone else from their friends lists and putting pressure on their friends to do the same.

Prominent critics of the so-called A-List bloggers cutting people from their blogrolls include skippy the bush kangaroo and Jon Swift. Both on their own blogs and in the comments of many other bloggers' posts discussion the issue, they bring up these points:

  • Top-ranked conservative bloggers link much more generously than top-ranked liberal bloggers do.
  • Google PageRank depends critically on both the number and quality of inbound links to a site.
  • The simultaneous cutting of many blogs from top-ranked liberal blogrolls therefore reduced the liberal blogosphere's overall PageRank.

I was going to write something about this, but my attention waned even as my notes grew. But late this week Terrance at The Republic of T re-energized the conversation with his thoughtful post. Terrance calls attention, in particular, to "Blogs to Riches — The Haves and Have-Nots of the Blogging Boom," an article in New York Magazine last year about the stratification of the overall blogosphere, the money made at the top end, and how much harder it has become to reach the blogosphere's higher reaches.

Chris Clarke at Creek Running North says a lot of what I was going to say:

And I wonder whether the whole discussion is predicated on the assumption that there’s one blogging hierarchy, when in fact there are several. Making Light is way up in one, Twisty in another, Dave Winer in another.

I care and I don’t. I couldn’t ever climb anywhere near the top of the political blogging hierarchy even if I wanted to: I’m just too far to the left for such a thing to happen, and I keep mentioning pesky things like the history of US imperialism prior to 2002. Of course, that might keep me from becoming a leading dog blogger as well. That and not having a dog. ...

But I look at my referral stats, and once you subtract out the 95 percent of my traffic that comes straight offa Google, the bulk of people who click over here come from blogs with far less traffic than the big folks. And all those links from less-trammeled blogs mean more Google traffic, too. Technorati, which misses a lot, says about 325 places link in to this domain. About a dozen of those are at big-traffic blogs, I’m thinking. Nineteen of them go to Ron’s joint. The rest of the links come from non-A-list, and probably non-B-list blogs. Whatever those terms are supposed to mean. I have no idea what they mean, myself. I’m just flinging them around.

My own story is similar, if a lot smaller. 11 inbound links, Technorati tells me, that are younger than six months old. I get a mere 120 hits per day (My hit count has been growing as I've stretched out a longer and longer streak of posting every day that I'm hoping to keep up if I can finish this post before midnight.) Most of my traffic comes from search, but I have an estimated twenty to thirty regular readers. A couple of my inbound links come from well-known blogs (Making Light and The Sideshow) but the rest come from sites that are further down the long tail. Blogroll Amnesty Day did not affect me, because, except for second- or third-order effects.

The New York Magazine article describes a reluctance a seeming A-list bloggers about discussing what it takes to achieve their exalted status and how much money they make from it, But those A-listers are Gawker Media's Nick Denton and Weblogs, Inc.'s Jason Calacanis, who reap the rewards of huge traffic on blogs written by hirelings whom they pay peanuts. In the discussions of the Blogroll Purge I've seen, it seems like people can't tell the difference between Atrios and Nick Denton. Of the high-ranked liberal bloggers, only Markos Moulitsas actually breathes that rarefied atmosphere.

Avedon Carol has written about how she has been noticing, entirely apart from the Blogroll Purge, a decline in traffic in recent months, and she wonders what it's about. It seems to me that what it is about is that blog reading by way of news aggregators like Bloglines or Google Reader, where your blog gets crawled by the aggregator and read by many readers, is on the upswing. Traffic is still up, but it's not being caught in the referral logs. Blogrolls don't show up there, either. I read pretty much all of the blogs I read regularly by way of Bloglines, myself.

According to my referral logs, blogrolls just aren't important. I get one hit a day each from Making Light, The Sideshow, and skippy, And I imagine that those hits come from those blogs' proprietors using their blog as a homepage. The true currency of linkage is citations within blog posts. Those are what get readers to click through to find out more.

Blogrolls don't generate traffic; they are there apparently, to share Technorati authority and Googlejuice. As such, don't they constitute a form of gaming the system rather then authentic indicators of worth of linkage? Links in blog posts get clicked. Links on sidebars don't. Which link is more valuable?

My own blogroll policy: A blog is guaranteed a spot on the As I Please blogroll if and only if the blog's publisher has sex with me. That's the only way you're guaranteed a link. For group blogs, only one co-blogger needs to sleep with me to get that blog on my blogroll. Acceptance of any offer made, and determination of what constitutes "sex" is at my sole discretion. Don't even bother emailing me to ask for a link exchange.

That's the only way to guarantee a spot on my blogroll, but because I'm a generous guy, I also link to blogs whom I mention in my posts, but that's on an arbitrary and ad hoc basis.

Posted by abostick at 11:10 PM | Comments (2)

March 27, 2007

Kathy Sierra Death Threats: Silence Gives Consent

BlogHer's Linda Stone suggests that the right way to deal with creeps like the one harassing Kathy Sierra is to ignore them. She's wrong.

A vast storm of commentary has erupted around Kathy Sierra's pulling out of ETech because of misogynistic threats of sexual violence and murder directed towards her. Many people are shocked that such a thing could happen at all. Many people say that what Sierra is doing is giving in to the bullies. Not a few of the A-listers are cautioning against a rush to judgment, because after all it is their friends and drinking buddies who, in starting MeanKids and Bob's Yer Uncle, gave misogyny, racism, and hatred a garden to grow in.

Linda Stone, co-founder of BlogHer, reminds us that this is what every woman who appears publicly on the Internet is exposed to:

The hate speech aimed at Kathy makes me sick. I am appalled by her experience and moved by her post. And I am sorry to confirm what many women online already know: Kathy Sierra is, literally, one among countless women assaulted like this online. I have no idea how many women have emailed and telephoned me about attacks via IM, IRC chat, message boards, email and blog comments. These attacks use language that describes detailed rape, dismemberment, profanity and indescribably sick images. The goal? Abuse and humiliation of women.

These assaults are happening to women blogging in every corner of the Internet -- food bloggers, political bloggers, feminist bloggers, tech bloggers, entertainment bloggers and -- perhaps especially -- mommybloggers. The only predictor I have observed is that the more famous the blogger (and/or blogger's spouse), the more lesbian, and/or the more not-white, the more vicious her attackers. Denise knows the score.

But Stone goes on to link to an earlier post, giving her advice on how to deal with Internet trolls:

Sometimes people are mean in this virtual Web world. Really mean.

And it's my opinion that there's only one solution: Ignore them.

That's the most powerful thing you can do.

Yes, trolls feed on attention, and yes, ignoring them denies what they feed on. And yes, the people who posted the hateful comments and images on MeanKids and Bob's Yer Uncle are nothing but hypertrophied trolls.

At the same time, if all you do is ignore a troll, then no one else knows about the trolling.

The men who don't troll can then comfortably assume that because it would never occur to them personally to post anonymous sexualized threatening comments or photoshop a picture to look like a BDSM scene, that therefore that stuff doesn't go on regularly. When a woman breaks the silence once in a while, they can profess outrage at what some lone sicko has done in an isolated case, and never have to even consider the possibility that there is a widespread pattern of anonymous abuse.

Whether or not Kathy Sierra is a coward for "giving in" and canceling her speaking engagements, she is a hero for speaking out, for reminding us of what is going on all the time.

(Hat tip to Chris Clarke)

Posted by abostick at 03:58 PM | Comments (4)

Tech Blogger Kathy Sierra Menaced by Hate Speech, Death and Rape Threats

Creating Passionate Users' Kathy Sierra canceled her keynote speech at ETech in San Diego [possibly triggering, possibly NSFW], because she was intimidated by a series of sexually loaded threats of murder and rape, both in the comments of her own blog and in two group blogs, meankids.org and Bob's Yer Uncle, run by a group of tech and marketing bloggers. Neither site is now available; Bob's Yer Uncle has been yanked for violating WordPress's terms of service.

Sierra reproduced examples both of graphic attacks on her and written attacks on other women in her field, all laden with vivid imagery of violence against and contempt for women.

This is what the Tech Boys Club looks like [possibly triggering, possiby NSFW].

(via Lindsay Beyerstein)

Posted by abostick at 10:59 AM | Comments (1)

March 23, 2007

PTSD, Women Soldiers, and Photography

The New York Times Magazine's cover story last Sunday was "The Women's War," by Sarah Corbett, about women who had been deployed to Iraq, combat, sexual harassment and rape, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Accompanying the story are pictures of the veterans Corbett interviewed, photographed by Katy Grannan.

Lindsay Beyerstein noticed something interesting about Grannan's photographs: they appeared to Lindsay's eye to use the conventions of pinup photography, incongruously sexualizing the presentation of these disturbed war veterans.

I thought Lindsay was on to something, and I was really interested in what my friend Laurie Edison would have to say. So I got out of my chair with my laptop and showed it to Laurie's blogging partner, our own true Debbie Notkin. They were interested indeed, and the next day they wrote about it together on Body Impolitic. Laurie and Debbie noted the sexualization in some of the pictures, and noted that in others women were represented as taking care of children or working in a kitchen. They add that, quickly googling for images of men accompanying accounts of PTSD, one finds headshots or battlefield scenes.

Lindsay responded with another post. So did Lynn Kendall, who explains the meaning of finding sexiness in PTSD-suffering women.

I don't have much to add here, except that the conversation is as thought-provoking as its subject is disturbing.

Posted by abostick at 11:21 AM | Comments (0)

March 15, 2007

Leave NCLB Behind

Matthew Yglesias is blogtopia's (y!sctp!) best and brightest. He's Harvard-educated, and as well as being an A-list liberal blogger, he writes for The American Prospect. He lives in Washington, D.C. He is, in effect, a junior member of the commentariat and will eventually graduate to the weekend talking-head shows as a molder and shaper of opinion.

And he is apparently subject to the ills to which the commentariat within the Beltway is prey. Here he is, writing on the upcoming renewal of No Child Left Behind legislation:

Education Policy for the Paranoid

A lot of people look at the No Child Left Behind Act's requirement of "100 proficiency" and smell a rat; an obviously impossible goal. I would read Richard Rothstein's "'Proficiency for All': An Oxymoron" for a detailed explication of this view. Then many, including Kevin Drum, move from this to a paranoid account of the motives behind the provision. "What incentive does anyone have to label 99% of America's public schools as failures?" he asks, "That's crazy, isn't it?"

Answer: Anyone who wants the public to believe that public schools are failures. This would primarily consist of conservatives who want to break teachers unions and evangelicals who want to build political momentum for private school vouchers. The whole point of NCLB for these people is to make sure that as many public schools as possible are officially deemed failures.

I'll happily agree that this provision seems somewhat ill-advised to me. However, the "secret plot to destroy public schools" account of the whole point of NCLB has some problems. Does Kevin really expect me to believe that this is what Ted Kennedy and George Miller, the law's leading Democratic supporters in the Senate and the House, are up to? These are big-time liberals. Perhaps they're wrong — Kennedy's certainly not above criticism — but it's absurd to think that they're leading agents behind an enterprise whose whole point is to dismantle the public school system.

Why are prominent liberal Democrats identified as supporters of No Child Left Behind? For precisely the same reason that prominent liberal Democrats voted to give Bush war powers in Iraq: They were suckered.

Just about everyone working in the trenches of public education agrees: NCLB sets up schools, even the best schools, to fail. Then it publicly flags them as failures, and cuts them off from resources they need to succeed, so that they fail even harder next time. It is no secret that the conservative agenda is to cripple public education.

It isn't paranoia when they really are out to get you. The Bush Administration is a Control Fraud swindle. Anything they have done, especially if it has a high legislative profile like NCLB, should be presumed to be part of the swindle unless proven otherwise.

I would be a fool to make a medical diagnosis from a blog post, so I won't flat-out say that Yglesias is suffering from Beltway Blindness, the occupational hazard of all Washington pundits that greatly inhibits their ability to see things outside the Beltway as they really are. But I would like to warn him: Matt, try to get out into the real world, spend some time with real people. Just Say No to Cocktail Weenies! You don't want to wind up like David Broder, do you?

Posted by abostick at 01:07 PM | Comments (1)

March 08, 2007

Blog Against Sexism Day

Today is International Women's Day, and as such it is also Blog Against Sexism Day

The trouble with blogging against sexism is the question of where to begin. There's so much of it, and so much of it is invisible and subtle. Lucky for me, Blogpulse handed me something on a silver platter as I was cruising top-linked news stories last night:

Of the sixty-one people named by PC World's Christopher Null as The 50 Most Important People on the Web, only four appear on the evidence of their names to be female. Heck, Forbes had a list of only 25 "Web Celebs" and named four women, for more than twice the inclusivity of women per capita — and those women got slagged by the Tech Boys Club.

Here at As I Please we aren't taking bets for how long it takes for some tech pundit to trash the women on the PC World list, because there is no place to set the line to where anyone but an idiot would take the over.

Posted by abostick at 09:15 AM | Comments (0)

March 04, 2007


Yeah, I know, it's a meme, and I found it on LiveJournal. But given my previous post, I couldn't resist:

What kind of extremist are you?
Your Result: Rational Person

You consider these questions obvious straw men, designed to distract people from a meaningful investigation of facts and a serious discussion of relevant political issues. How boring.

Moderate Extremist
Right-Wing Extremist
Left-Wing Extremist
What kind of extremist are you?
Make a Quiz

(via Patrick Nielsen Hayden)

Posted by abostick at 11:09 PM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2007

Say It Ain't So, Joe!

Sometime Democratic Party operative and allegedly-liberal pundit Joe Klein, in a silly dust-up with Atrios, lays out what he means by "left-wing extremist":

A left-wing extremist exhibits many, but not necessarily all, of the following attributes:

--believes the United States is a fundamentally negative force in the world.

--believes that American imperialism is the primary cause of Islamic radicalism.

--believes that the decision to go to war in Iraq was not an individual case of monumental stupidity, but a consequence of America’s fundamental imperialistic nature.

--tends to blame America for the failures of others—i.e. the failure of our NATO allies to fulfill their responsibilities in Afghanistan.

--doesn’t believe that capitalism, carefully regulated and progressively taxed, is the best liberal idea in human history.

--believes American society is fundamentally unfair (as opposed to having unfair aspects that need improvement).

--believes that eternal problems like crime and poverty are the primarily the fault of society.

--believes that America isn’t really a democracy.

--believes that corporations are fundamentally evil.

--believes in a corporate conspiracy that controls the world.

--is intolerant of good ideas when they come from conservative sources.

--dismissively mocks people of faith, especially those who are opposed to abortion and gay marriage.

--regularly uses harsh, vulgar, intolerant language to attack moderates or conservatives.

It happens that I am not a liberal; in fact I am a socialist. As such I am light-years closer to most people's notions of a "left-wing extremist" than a true liberal like Atrios. And yet, looking at Klein's list, it is astonishing quite how many of his supposed attributes of the left-wing extremist don't have anything to do with me.

I'm not a left-wing extremist? Say it ain't so, Joe!

Klein's conservative colors bleed through especially when he claims things like that leftist extremists believe that eternal problems like crime and poverty are the primarily the fault of society. "Eternal problems? That's a classically conservative formulation, in the sense that a conservative is someone who follows the political and philosophical program of Edmund Burke. (Has it come to this, that that even classical Burkean conservatives have to identify themselves as "moderates" or even "liberals" to distance themselves from the lunatics currently in charge of the asylum?)

In fact, Klein's laundry list of supposedly-left-wing attitudes are pretty much the standard conservative caricature of both liberalism and the left. Those aren't real leftists he's describing, those are the imaginary dirty fucking hippies who are depicted as being too embarrassing for anyone of decent sensibilities to consider standing next to should they be tempted by the facts or their own common sense to oppose Bush's War Against Terra.

And, of course, there is something notably missing from Klein's laundry list of left-wing extremism: The hallmark of an extremist is that an extremist uses, or at the very least advocates the use of, violence.

Extremists drive truckbombs into Federal office buildings, or murder abortionists, or send weaponized anthrax powder through the mail to senators' offices. Extremists kidnap people, beat them to within an inch of their lives, and leave them bound to barbwire fences to die. Extremists use gunfire to prevent refugees from crossing bridges to escape from flooded cities. Extremists are civilians who patrol borders armed with shotguns. Extremists advocate the murder of presidential candidates, or of scientists and religious leaders.

I joked above about feeling left of Klein's laundry list of extremism; but in truth, the more time passes, the more and more confirmed I become in the pacifism that I found only late in life. By my lights I cannot ever be an extremist, not without making compromises on strongly held principles about the essential value of life.

Earth to Joe Klein: The Baader-Meinhof Gang and the Symbionese Liberation Army were left-wing extremists. People marching in demonstrations chanting "No blood for oil!" or "Bush lied, people died!" are not; and neither are bloggers who use naughty words.

Posted by abostick at 04:36 PM | Comments (0)

February 28, 2007

Lindsay Said 'No' to John Edwards

Lindsay Beyerstein, proprietress of Majikthise[1], has an article up on Salon describing how the Edwards campaign approached her to be their blogmistress before they approached Amanda Marcotte or Shakespeare's Sister. She turned them down, and explains in the article why. If it weren't for the fact that the article appeared after Amanda and Shakes stepped down, she would seem eerily prescient. As it is, she's right on the money, even leaving hindsight out:

There is a breed of blogger that has proven useful working in an official capacity for political campaigns -- the party activist/consultant/blogger hybrid, someone like Matt Stoller of MyDD. Ideally, but not always, that kind of blogger puts his or her own blog on hold while being paid by a campaign, perhaps returning to it once the race is run. And the content of a party activist's blog is heavy on poll numbers, policy discussions and electoral minutiae. An opposition researcher might unearth something allegedly "intemperate" from the archives and use it against the candidate, but that risk is less than with the other style of blogger, an independent polemicist like Amanda. ...

In my opinion, though, the real lesson of the Webb campaign [for senator from Virginia] is how effective bloggers can be when they're outside the campaign. I think the candidates who benefit the most from the netroots are the ones who can inspire bloggers to do their work for free. They create unpaid, unofficial surrogates. Webb is a netroots success story because his team captured the imagination of independent bloggers and online activists. ...

The Edwards campaign wants decentralized people-powered politics. Ironically, by hiring well-known bloggers to manage a destination Web site, it was actually centralizing and micromanaging. Every campaign needs a blog, but the most important part of a candidate's netroots operation is the disciplined political operatives who can quietly build relationships with bloggers outside the campaign. And the bomb-throwing surrogates need to be outside, where they can make full use of their gifts without saddling a campaign with their personal political baggage.

[1]My friends look at me oddly when I pronounce Majikthise "mah-heek-THEEZ-uh," the way it looks to me. Am I nuts, or just not a leg man?

Posted by abostick at 11:13 AM | Comments (1)

February 13, 2007

Blogosphere Hall of Mirrors

So I was reading Eschaton, and Atrios linked to Glen Greenwald's new blog on Salon.

To read stuff on Salon, if you don't subscribe[1], you click on a link to watch a Flash advertisement from the sponsor of the day in order to receive a day pass. And who is the sponsor of the day for today, February 13, 2007? Why, it is Glen Greenwald's blog! So today at least, in order to read Glen Greenwald's blog you must first see an ad for Glen Greenwald's blog.

For once they are running an ad for something that interests me.

(This post to As I Please is brought to you by As I Please, the blog in which Alan Bostick explains the which of the what-he-did.)

[1] You just well might. After all, there's a paid subscriber to Salon born every minute.

Posted by abostick at 01:36 PM | Comments (0)

A Catcall From the Group W Bench

After Patrick Nielsen Hayden pointed me to Chris Bowers' paean to movement politics for its own sake I was left with the almost irresistible temptation to leave as a comment on Bowers' post the one line message, You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant.

Posted by abostick at 08:42 AM | Comments (0)

February 03, 2007

Where the Women Bloggers Are

Atrios points us to the announcements from Amanda Marcotte and Shakespeare's Sister that they have been hired to work on John Edwards's presidential campaign. I applaud Edwards' outreach to specifically feminist bloggers for his Internet presence. I wonder, though, who's next? If Edwards is still hiring, I could see him going for someone liberal and conventional like Lindsay Beyerstein — but why not go instead for a cask-strength feminist with attitude and street cred, someone like brownfemipower?

Posted by abostick at 12:28 PM | Comments (0)

February 02, 2007

Really Cool, Really Useful

Josh Marshall points us to a really cool resource for news junkies: Lots and lots of newspaper front pages, from many countries in the world It's growing, evidently. When Josh blogged it yesterday, he said, "555 papers in 55 countries," but when I loaded it just now it was 561 papers from 56 countries.

Visiting the page is like watching the news from Ozymandias' media room, except in print rather than video.

Posted by abostick at 01:02 PM | Comments (1)

August 21, 2006

Free Wine for Bloggers!

More than two years ago, I wrote:

Kevin Drum echoes David Bernstein and Tyler Cowen of The Volokh Conspiracy in wondering why publishers aren't vigorously courting book sales from the blogosphere by sending review copies of books to bloggers. Writers of weblogs, so goes the argument, are shapers and propagators of opinion; a book review in a prominent blog has the potential to reach thousands of readers, with a corresponding boost in sales.

There is a certain logic to this position. Here in the gleaming glass-walled skyscraper that is As I Please International World Headquarters, we are also wondering why more importers of single-malt scotch whiskey aren't vigorously courting sales growth from the blogosphere by offering freebies to bloggers. We also think that the potential of blogging for promoting high-end call girls (to say nothing of luxury sport sedans) is sadly underexploited.

It seems that at last someone is listening. Mankas Hills Vineyards, of Fairfield, California, is offering a free bottle of their 2004 Amelie Cabernet Sauvignon - Merlot to anyone in the United States who has a blog.

Restrictions apply; check the Mankas Hills Vineyards blog entry with the offer for details.

It's a good start; but I'm still waiting on my single-malt scotch.

(via Lindsay Beyerstein)

Posted by abostick at 09:15 AM | Comments (1)

December 16, 2005

Partisan Point-Scoring

Sometimes, the people on my side of the aisle are downright embarassing.

Atrios and Dave Sirota are piling onto Trent Lott, big-time tort-reform advocate, for hypocrisy. Lott, the Wall Street Journal reports [subscription required] has just filed suit against the State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. to force the insurance company to pay for Lott's house in Pascagoula, Mississippi, which was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

Sirota's post includes a bunch of Lott quotes about how suing to solve problems is something Democrats do.

I am no fan of Trent Lott. He's a racist hypocrite. At the same time, Katrina was completely blind to the state of the souls of the people she killed or whose houses she ruined. When I was in Mississippi, I did not hesitate to assist even the racist hypocrites who stood in dire need of assistance.

Sirota omits the real story: That State Farm and other insurance companies are seeking to evade their responsiblities to policy-holders by claiming that much of the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina was flood damage, not hurricane damage, and is therefore not covered by the hurricane riders to homeowners insurance.

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has filed suit against several insurers with policies in Mississippi, including State Farm, to force them to honor their policies for damages resulting from the hurricane.

What's more, insurance adjusters on the scene have been advising policy-holders to sue. I have been told by homeowners in Biloxi that their adjuster said something to the effect of, "It's just a position taken by the insurance company. The legal issues simply have not been resolved. The courts are going to decide this."

Many of the affected homeowners, including many I've spoken with myself, are people of limited financial means. No small number of them are Democrats.

"Justice for All" means exactly that: justice for everyone, whether or not they are on my side of the Great Divide in our political landscape. I would love to see Trent Lott brought to justice for his political misdeeds – and I also want to see him get his due in the hurricane recovery. The story here isn't that Trent Lott is a hypocrite; we've known that for years. The story is that State Farm, in its arrogance, is trying to screw Republican Senator Trent Lott along with everyone else.

Posted by abostick at 12:45 PM | Comments (1)

February 25, 2005

Domestic Harmony

There's a story that Debbie's father, Herbert Notkin, used to tell....

John and Helen were held in high regard in their community for the solidity of their relationship and the absence of public friction between the two of them. friend remarked about this. "It's not just public," said Helen. "Our private life together is peaceful, too. We never argue."

"How can this be?" asked the friend. "I don't know anyone in a marriage, or any other relationship, where they don't have some quarrels or disagreements."

Helen answered, "It's actually quite simple. When we first married, we fought like cats and dogs, but we realized it was too much for us, and we came to an agreement: John makes all the important decisions, and I make all the unimportant ones."

"Like what?"

"I decide things like where we should live, what we should buy for food, whose advice to follow about raising the kids – the unimportant things."

The friend was bemused. "So those are the unimportant decisions. What are the important decisions, the ones John makes?"

"You know," said Helen, "What team should win the Superbowl, whether or not the Democrats need more backbone, what sort of person John Hinderaker is. Important things."

Posted by abostick at 03:30 PM | Comments (0)

O For a Muse of Fire....

Avedon Carol explains why The Sideshow has tilted more to lists of links than to essays lately:

It's partly a result of the fact that I'm a bit overwhelmed by all the news. I mean, the whole torture-Negroponte-etc. business just leaves me speechless. What can you possibly say once these things are even on the table? "Torture? I'm against it. Why do you ask?"

Every single day, every time I am starting to write something in my head about the first administration outrage I heard about today, I hear about another one, and then another one, and then I feel like I'm drowning and can't seem to focus. That makes it really easy to just link to whatever Digby or Atrios or whoever had to say about things, instead. This situation may continue until I get my breath back, but in the meantime, I do want to call those good links to your attention.

(Of course, Avedon says this in a meaty, thought-provoking post. There's a mixed message here, something Arnold Mindell would call a double signal.)

For almost thirty years I've thought that Avedon's writing, when inspired by the fire of her anger, has a fierce beauty that is a joy to read. I'm willing to wait a while for her muse to flare up again. In the meanwhile, her "link farm" will still be the first thing I look at when I hit the Internet in the morning.

And, Avedon, you can write something pithy about the Bra of the Week, and everyone in blogtopia (y!sctp!) will know what you think about John Negroponte.

Posted by abostick at 12:18 PM | Comments (1)

February 23, 2005

Atrios Biased???

Atrios obviously only considers right-wing wankers for his Wanker of the Day feature, and doesn't bother to call attention to wankers from the left side of the aisle. How else could you explain his having overlooked yesterday's performance by the usually-sensible Kevin Drum?

Posted by abostick at 12:52 PM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2005

Jerry Brown Has a Blog

Jerry Brown has started blogging. Brown is formerly the governor of the state of California and currently mayor of Oakland, where the As I Please international world headquarters is located.

He's only got one post up so far, a response to attackers of a controversial city curfew for parolees.

(via Skippy's pal Cookie Jill)

Posted by abostick at 10:46 AM | Comments (1)

February 08, 2005

A Handful of Magic Beans?

Ask Jeeves Acquires Bloglines

Oakland, CA – February 8, 2005 – Ask Jeeves®, Inc. (Nasdaq: ASKJ), a leading provider of information retrieval technologies, brands and Internet advertising services, today announced it has acquired Trustic, Inc., the company that owns and operates Bloglines (www.bloglines.com). Bloglines is the world’s most popular free online service for searching, subscribing, publishing and sharing RSS feeds, blogs and rich web content. Bloglines will continue to operate as an independent brand in the Ask Jeeves portfolio and retain its name and unique URL: www.bloglines.com.

Ask Jeeves bought Bloglines? With what?

(And is there any truth in the rumor that LookSmart, Ltd., is in negotiations with Nick Denton to acquire Gawker Media in exchange for all future recording royalties from Evan Thornley's garage band?)

Posted by abostick at 12:41 PM | Comments (0)

January 16, 2005

Blogger Ethics

It seems to me that it is peculiar that the Ancient and Illuminated Seers of Harvard University are hosting a Conference on Blogging, Journalism and Credibility where attendance is by invitation only, when blogging is for all intents and purposes a folk art.

Whether or not the allegation that certain liberal bloggers took payola from the Dean campaign amounts to anything more than a ploy for attention by a scandalmonger that got picked up by the right-wing noise machine, it is ridiculous to have the question of blogging-for-pay at the top of the queue of ethics problems facing bloggers.

The single most important ethical issue faced by bloggers today, the one the most bloggers deal with on a day-by-day basis, is this:

If a total stranger friends my LJ, do I have to friend him or her back again?

Let's keep it real, folks.

Posted by abostick at 03:46 PM | Comments (1)

January 15, 2005

Setting the Record Straight

Now that the Wall Street Journal has made an issue about Markos Moulitsas receiving money from the Howard Dean Campaign, the time has come for me to set my own record straight.

Since I began blogging, I have written in As I Please about the following people from whom I have received money or other consideration: Alex Alaskar, Tommy Angelo, Patti Beadles, Benny Behnen, Steve Brust, Rick Chin, Chris Claremont, Sabyl Cohen, Bonnie Damiano, "Erik" (a prop player at the Oaks Club), Danny Flores, Perry Friedman, Jamie Gillis, Charles Haynes, Phil Hellmuth, Karina Jett, Lee Jones, "Kim," Steve Landrum, J.P. Massar, Chris Moneymaker, Tommy Joe Neal, Men Nguyen, David Notkin, Debbie Notkin, Paul Phillips, D. Potter, Andrew Prock, Rory Root, Steven Schwartz, Peter Secor, Spencer Sun, Larry Thomas, Ngoc "Jimmy" Tran, and Tom Whitmore. I also received a $9400 payment from Lucky Chances Casino and a number of payments from Casino San Pablo totalling close to $20,000. I have received payments from other people mentioned in the blog although not by name, and from many others, too numerous for me to have kept track.

In 2004 alone the payments I have received substanially exceeded what the Dean campaign paid Kos.

Zephyr Teachout, the source who blew the whistle on the Dean payments that Kos acknowledged in a disclaimer on his front page for months, is quoted as saying, I think its a good time for creating a culture of simply not writing about people you accept money from. Have I compromised my integrity as a blogger?

Update: Additional names added to make the list more complete.

Posted by abostick at 10:09 AM | Comments (2)

LiveJournal Down But Good

A power failure at one of Internap's data centers has sent LiveJournal sprawling on the floor. LJ's admins are finding out the hard way that the name of Usenet newsgroup alt.sysadmin.recovery isn't about twelve-step programs, but instead is a job description:

Update #3: 2:42 am: We're starting to get tired, but all the hard stuff is done at least. Unfortunately a couple machines had lying hardware that didn't commit to disk when asked, so InnoDB's durability wasn't so durable (though no fault of InnoDB). We restored those machines from a recent backup and are replaying the binlogs (database changes) from the point of backup to present. That will take a couple hours to run. We'll also be replacing that hardware very shortly, or at least seeing if we can find/fix the reason it misbehaved. The four of us have been at this almost 12 hours, so we're going to take a bit of a break while the binlogs replay... Again, our apologies for the downtime. This has definitely been an experience.

It is through system failures and crashes that sysadmins show their true mettle. They have comparatively little to do between them –which explains a lot about the nature of Usenet, come to think of it.

Posted by abostick at 08:38 AM | Comments (0)

January 14, 2005

I *Really* Didn't Want to Learn That

Kevin Drum points out that Andrew Sullivan's blog "has become a must read for anyone who cares about the torture scandal."

I'm currently letting a half-outlined essay on Americans and torture bubble and stew on my mind's back burner. (Its perhaps too-cute working title is "The Shadow of the Torturer" because its thesis is that there is a torturer in America's collective Shadow, in the Jungian sense of the word.) I'm very interested in any new carrots and potatoes to throw into the pot. So I checked Sullivan's blog, and goddammit, Kevin is right. I'm going to go back there regularly and keep reading it. Crap.

Sullivan also has a crackerjack essay in the New York Times Book Review which is as good a summary as I've seen of the story so far.

Posted by abostick at 11:35 AM | Comments (0)

November 30, 2004

Casino Cheater's Blog

Richard Marcus claims to have been a professional casino cheat, scamming his way to wins at roulette tables in Las Vegas and other gambling venues. He's written a book about his exploits, American Roulette, and he promotes it through his weblog.

The narrative of such books tends to be about how the glamorous Byronic heroes, acting illicitly and perhaps illegally, beat both the games and the casino heat to take money from the soulless and exploitive casinos. Some of my best friends have run blackjack card-counting teams.

The stated purpose of Marcus' blog is to tell stories that had to be cut from the book for space reasons, and to keep tabs on the goings-on in the world of casino cheating. Promotion of the book is also a big motivation, as I've said.

I have glanced at the blog, not having seen his book, and while Marcus may seem to be a bit full of himself, his stories ring true, consistent with what other people with similar experiences have told me.

(via boingboing)

Posted by abostick at 01:15 PM | Comments (0)

November 03, 2004

This Age Wanted Heroes

Shut up. Listen. There is something calling, Paulinka. If you still retain a shred of decency you can hear it – it's a dim terrible voice that's calling – a bass howl, like a cow in a slaughterhouse, but far, far off... It is calling us to action, calling us to stand against the calamity, to spare nothing, not our blood, nor our happiness, nor our lives in the struggle to stop the dreadful day that's burning now in oil flames on the horizon. What makes the voice pathetic is that it doesn't know what kind of people it's reaching. Us. No one hears it, except us. This Age wanted heroes. It got us instead: carefully constructed, but immobile. Subtle, but unfit to take up the burden of the times. It happens. A whole generation of washouts. History says stand up, and we totter and collapse, weeping, moved, but not sufficient. The best of us, lacking. The most decent, not decent enough. The kindest, too cruel, the most loving too full of hate, the wisest, too stupid, the fittest unfit to take up the burden of the times. The Enemy has a voice like seven thunders. What chance did that dim voice ever have? Marvel that anyone heard it instead of wondering why nobody did anything, marvel that we heard it, we who have no right to hear it – NO RIGHT! And it would be a mercy not to. But mercy ... is a thing ... no one remembers its face anymore. The best would be that time would stop right now, in this middling moment of awfulness, before the very worst arrives. We'd all be spared more than telling. That would be best.

(Tony Kushner, A Bright Room Called Day)

Posted by abostick at 03:34 PM | Comments (1)

October 15, 2004

Not Clear on the Concept Dept.

Charlie Stross is in a high dudgeon:

Attention Livejournal users

Some time ago somebody set up an unauthorized Livejournal feed from my weblog.

This is annoying to me because I don't administer it and can't update it. So when I moved my blog, four weeks ago, the LJ feed broke. Now I've moved the DNS for my server over, the LJ feed is barfing up a months' worth of my articles and people are complaining to me.

If you use LJ to track my blog, stop it. Instead, you can grab an RSS feed from here.

If you created the LJ feed, please delete it. Thank you.

We now return to our usual scheduled program ...

Umm, Charlie? If you don't want people to syndicate your blog, don't hand them an RSS feed. It's like linking to a page: if you don't want outsiders to link to a Web page, don't put it up on the Web.

This is just about as dumb as saying "You can use Radio UserLand to read my blog, but not BlogLines."

Posted by abostick at 04:29 PM | Comments (0)

October 14, 2004

Bill Gibson Blogging Again

Bill Gibson is no longer no longer blogging.

Bill writes:


Because the United States currently has, as Jack Womack so succintly puts it, a president who makes Richard Nixon look like Abraham Lincoln.

And because, as the Spanish philospher Unamuno said, "At times, to be silent is to lie."

(via boingboing)

Posted by abostick at 01:55 PM | Comments (0)

July 27, 2004

Atrios Unmasked

Who says nothing newsworthy happens at political party national conventions anymore? Jeralyn Merritt, covering the Democratic convention for TalkLeft, has posted a picture of the hitherto-anonymous leftie blogger, and tells us his first name is Duncan.

Duncan 'Atrios' Black

Alex R, a commenter on Kevin Drum's Political Animal, points out that Atrios has put the text Eschaton -- a weblog by d u n c a n b l a c k at the foot of Eschaton. Atrios has outed himself, presumably because he needed to do so to the DNC in order to get a press credential.

I'm a little chuffed, because quite by accident I get to look prescient.

Posted by abostick at 10:59 AM | Comments (0)

July 10, 2004

Washington Memely

Kevin Drum, formerly of CalPundit, is practically the poster child of Blogging Made Good, with his Political Animal being the kick-off of the Washington Monthly's Web page.

But a Blogger Made Good is still a blogger. Kevin has given in to the temptation of a meme – filling out his choices on a list of 100 cultural preferences, and posted his results for the world to see. Go there to find out that Kevin prefers Letterman over Leno, but has no preference between Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald.

This just in: Atrios is rumored to be on the verge of revealing what Finding Nemo character he is. Watch this space for updates as this story develops!

Posted by abostick at 03:08 PM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2004

Free Books for Bloggers!

Kevin Drum echoes David Bernstein and Tyler Cowen of The Volokh Conspiracy in wondering why publishers aren't vigorously courting book sales from the blogosphere by sending review copies of books to bloggers. Writers of weblogs, so goes the argument, are shapers and propagators of opinion; a book review in a prominent blog has the potential to reach thousands of readers, with a corresponding boost in sales.

There is a certain logic to this position. Here in the gleaming glass-walled skyscraper that is As I Please International World Headquarters, we are also wondering why more importers of single-malt scotch whiskey aren't vigorously courting sales growth from the blogosphere by offering freebies to bloggers. We also think that the potential of blogging for promoting high-end call girls (to say nothing of luxury sports sedans) is sadly underexploited.

Posted by abostick at 10:59 AM | Comments (2)

January 15, 2004

Daily Kos Profiled in Today's SF Chronicle

Rob Morse, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, profiles Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, host of The Daily Kos.

Lately, Moulitsas has been trapped in his bungalow off Sacramento Street handling a record number of postings because of Monday's Iowa caucuses. He constantly posts polls and analysis, written in "skeletal" style so members of his community, known as "Kossacks," can contribute their own analyses, cracks and rants. Political insiders are among the most avid fans.

"I'm a reader. I think Markos has done an incredible job," said the president of the New Democrat Network, Simon Rosenberg, a centrist who worked in Bill Clinton's famous "war room" during the 1992 campaign and continued working for Clinton throughout his presidency.

"Kos is one of the places I go for full-time information every day," Rosenberg said. "If people like me do that, you know it's having an impact."

Posted by abostick at 09:23 AM | Comments (0)

November 28, 2003

Whose Journalists are Nastier: Britain or the USA?

Kevin Drum at Calpundit is uncharacteristically upset about the Independent's headline for their story on Bush's hit-and-run visit to Baghdad yesterday: The Turkey Has Landed.

But honestly, writes Kevin, what were they thinking? As the cover of Counterpunch or some Bay Area alt weekly, sure. But on the front page of an allegedly serious broadsheet?

You ain't seen nothin' yet. Newsday, Long Island's daily tabloid, puts the Independent to shame for partisan headlining:

AWOL on Air Force One.

("AWOL" is the sobriquet that Skippy the Bush Kangaroo is promoting for our commander-in-thief, as a reminder of Bush's desertion from his National Guard unit.)

Who would have thunk that a sober paper like Newsday would out-nasty a feisty British political paper?

(Thanks to Skippy for the Newsday headline)

Posted by abostick at 05:12 PM | Comments (3)

November 18, 2003

When the Web Was a Scientifictional Dream

Buried deep in the comments of Making Light we find this gem, penned by the Language Hat:

Ralph 4CR looked around in astonishment. "You mean... there are invisible beams all around us, carrying information to all parts of the globe, even as we speak?"

The Master of Communications turned towards him solemnly. "Yes," he asseverated, "and the information is not carried whole, but is broken up into a myriad of infinitesimal packets, to be reassembled without fail when they reach their destination."

"You astonish me," breathed Ralph. "And this information is accessible to all?"

"It is," nodded the Master. "The issues of the day are debated by all citizens, no matter where they may be located, and communication no longer waits on tides or weather."

"And what are the great issues so decided?"

The Master cast a glance at the poll on his screen: Which Jedi Knight Are You? He looked severe. "I fear our issues would mean nothing to you across the great gulf of time you have traversed. You should go now and refresh yourself. We will speak later. You have much to learn. Vanna, show our young guest to his room."

A lissome blonde appeared from behind a curtain and beckoned...

Posted by abostick at 09:55 AM | Comments (0)

November 12, 2003

Evil Overlord Defeated (Film at 11)

Charlie Stross has regained control of his blog, claiming that the posts for the past two weeks (see below) were made by his "evil twin." A likely story.

Posted by abostick at 12:40 PM | Comments (0)

November 04, 2003

Atrios and Luskin Kiss and Make Up

A Joint Statement from Donald Luskin and Atrios

"We both regret a series of misunderstandings that have resulted in something that neither of us intended. We have discussed our differences, and both of us are confident that such misunderstandings will not occur again in the future. As a result, Mr. Luskin is retracting his demand letter of October 29, 2003. We congratulate each other on having quickly achieved an amicable resolution. We are both glad to have put this behind us."

(Eppur si muove! – Italian for "But you're still a horse's ass!")

Posted by abostick at 07:43 PM | Comments (0)

November 01, 2003

Black Cape, Top Hat, and Moustache

Charlie Stross has declared his intention to become Evil Overlord of the entire planet. But sshhh! Don't tell anyone.

Charlie couldn't help but do a better job than the current lot. But he had better bone up on the mistakes of his predecessors.

Posted by abostick at 10:01 PM | Comments (0)

October 30, 2003

Donald Luskin Is a Horse's Ass

He is threatening to sue Atrios. Why? Because Atrios called Luskin, whose chief claim to notoriety seems to be his relentless desire to smear Paul Krugman a "stalker."

Mind you, Luskin described himself as a stalker last May in a column in the National Review Online entitled "We Stalked. He Balked."

Luskin is pretty obviously attempting to silence a critic by use of barratry. He should be think twice about throwing stones, as his dwelling place seems to be made in large part of vitrified silicon dioxide.

In case you're wondering, I am aware of the risk I'm taking with this post's headline. I'm expecting a letter of protest from the American Quarter Horse Association any day now.

Posted by abostick at 12:16 AM | Comments (0)

September 16, 2003

Bill Gibson is No Longer Blogging

Last Postcard from Costa del Blog

Time for me to get back to my day job, which means that it’s time for me to stop blogging.

I’ve found blogging to be a low-impact activity, mildly narcotic and mostly quite convivial, but the thing I’ve most enjoyed about it is how it never fails to underline the fact that if I’m doing this I’m definitely not writing a novel — that is, if I’m still blogging, I’m definitely still on vacation. I’ve always known, somehow, that it would get in the way of writing fiction, and that I wouldn’t want to be trying to do both at once. The image that comes most readily to mind is that of a kettle failing to boil because the lid’s been left off.

Posted by abostick at 01:31 PM | Comments (0)

August 22, 2003

On the Internet, No One Knows You're Not a Cat

"I have to remark," says D. Potter, surfing the net from our livingroom sofa, "on the number of people whose LiveJournal personae are cats."

Posted by abostick at 10:59 AM | Comments (3)

August 14, 2003

Usage Bugaboo

Josh Marshall on Bush's pay cut for soldiers in Iraq: This, quite literally, takes the cake. The Pentagon and the White House are pushing to cut the pay of American troops serving in Iraq. [emphasis added]

"Literally" does not intensify the use of a metaphor; it implies that an expression that is usually used metaphorically is in a particular instance literally true rather than metaphorically true.

It would be literally taking the cake if the MREs that US troops were served in Iraq hitherto included a piece of cake for dessert, but that from now on, as a cost-cutting move, they would have instead an Oreo cookie.

(This criticism of a non-Republican blogger is brought my my intent to bring the standards of fairness and balance set by Fox News to As I Please.)

Posted by abostick at 10:36 AM | Comments (1)

July 30, 2003

Attention LiveJournalers

As I Please's LiveJournal syndication (http://www.livejournal.com/users/alanbostick/) is updating erratically; some of my recent posts are missing. To stay current, you are going to have to come outside and read my blog directly.

Relax. It's good for you to crawl out from under LJ's event horizon and see some of the real world, once in a while.

Posted by abostick at 02:29 PM | Comments (2)

June 24, 2003

LiveJournalers Take Note!

I now have a LiveJournal account, with the username of abostick59. At the present time, I have no plan to post there, though. If you want to read what I'm up to, either follow the LJ RSS feed of As I Please or go straight to the source.

If you want to let me read your secret BDSM villanelles and sestinas or your rants about how your ex spewed the rent money on a Keno binge in the Cal-Neva coffee shop, then add abostick59 to your Friends list. If, on the other hand, you are interested in reading analyses of lowball hands or recollections of dreams in which Jon Singer turns me into a ten-speed bicycle, then you should add my blog's RSS feed to your Friends list.

Of course, as the Scarecrow said with his arms folded across his chest and pointing, some people prefer to go both ways.

And a tip o' the hat to Patti Beadles for supplying the new account code.

Posted by abostick at 10:42 AM | Comments (0)

May 05, 2003

Monday Miscellany

Ordinarily I don't bother with those silly online quizzes ("Which Beverly Hillbilly are you?"), but Teresa Nielsen Hayden points us to one that even I can't pass up: Which Springer-Verlag Graduate Text in Mathematics are you? It turns out that I am Foundations of Differentiable Manifolds and Lie Groups by Frank Warner. I find this oddly comforting.

* * *

David Scott Marley calls attention to an article by Joshua Green in the Washington Monthly about sometime drug and morality czar William Bennet's high-rolling gambling habit. It seems that the author of The Book of Virtues has a jones for $500-a-pull slot machines. "'There's a term in the trade for this kind of gambler,' says a casino source who has witnessed Bennett at the high-limit slots in the wee hours. 'We call them losers.'"

Other people care about the seeming hypocrisy of a morality monger blowing millions of dollars on slot machines. There's quite a large piece of me that's saying, "Slot machines?? What a mug! What a live one! I wonder if there's any way of luring him out of Bellagio's salon privé and into the poker room?"

* * *

Avedon Carol has recovered from her eye surgery sufficiently that she is posting again to The Sideshow instead of that ghastly substitute on blogspot.com.

* * *

If you are interested in generating hits on your blog, I commend to you the practice of going to live theater performances and posting reviews. My mentions of Berkeley Rep's productions of Suddenly Last Summer and Fraulein Else have garnered more search queries from Google and other search engines than anything else I've posted here.

Posted by abostick at 10:19 AM | Comments (1)

March 27, 2003

When Worlds Collide

Teresa Nielsen Hayden has just blogged Steve Brust's weblog, quoting Steve's June 8, 2002, entry on his "notes for a new poker book" (for example, Chapter 4. How to prevent bad beats by always going in with the worst hand).

My personal favorite entry is this one:

Fri May 31st, 2002 8:39 AM

Yesterday I was sitting next to a drunk in the 4-8 Hold'em game at the Palms.
"What do you do?"
"I'm a writer."
"What do you write?"
(KT offsuit--muck)
"What kind of novels?"
"Science fiction/fantasy."
"Oh. Uh...I know it's kind of personal, but how much do you make per book?"
"Enough to make a living, not enough to date a cocktail waitress."

I know Steve quite well from the science fiction universe — Fourth Street Fantasy Conventions and Reinconations, the old GEnie Science Fiction Round Table, and so forth — but these days I feel more closely connected to him through the poker world than the world of SF fan- and prodom. I had a good, long chat with him at last year's World Series of Poker, for example; but when Debbie Notkin and I, along with Mike Ford, Elise Matthesen, Emma Bull, and Will Shetterly, were in Las Vegas for a vacation getaway a couple of weeks after BARGE in August 2001, we were disappointed that we couldn't get together with him.

Steve is a kind of triple-threat: writer, musician, and poker player, which I guess means he could quit three day jobs at once. Most recent thing of his that I've read was Freedom and Necessity (co-authored with Emma Bull); I liked it. Last I heard, Steve plays a lot at the poker room at the Palms.

Posted by abostick at 11:13 AM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2003

I Can't Figure It Out....

How come more people don't comment David Scott Marley's excellent weblog, Scratchings?

I found Scott's page when Patrick Nielsen Hayden announced its advent in Electrolite in the beginning of January, and I've been following it ever since.

Scott, like so many of us, is preoccupied with the Bush administration and the imminent attack on Iraq. But he also talks about creativity, art, writing, and the stage, and I find myself particularly appreciating what he occasionally says about religion and spirituality.

His most recent entry underscores for me the peculiar relationship between the blogoverse and waking life. At dinner last night Scott talked about his reactions to seeing The Apartment, and here they are again, in more detail on my computer screen. I'm hoping he'll say something about Suddenly Last Summer. (And as of Wednesday, March 3, he has.

Posted by abostick at 11:23 PM | Comments (1)

March 02, 2003

...And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest!

That was fast! I've done essentially no publicizing of this blog, feeling that I wanted to get the bugs out of its appearance before bragging about it. (I'm still working on it.) But I have begun to type its URL into the appropriate box when commenting on other people's blogs.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden noticed, and has included As I Please among the "Friends and Relations" links on the sidebar on Electrolite. At the very top of the list, in fact. Avedon Carol not only picked this up but mentioned it.

I found this out indirectly, when my daily review of /var/log/httpd-access.log to see the home addresses of last night's bunch of script-kiddies looking for Windows NT security holes revealed that a bunch of people were actually downloading and viewing actual Web pages, and that they been referred by Electrolite. and The Sideshow.

Close scrutiny reveals the true reason why my blog leads all the rest in Patrick's listing. Our editorial and design staffs are considering the implications of renaming this weblog Aaaaaaaaaaas I Please. Watch this space for further updates.

Posted by abostick at 12:18 PM | Comments (4)

February 26, 2003

*Tap Tap Tap* Is This Thing On ... ?

As an afterthought to getting the spicejar.org server up and running, I thought I'd see what I could do with Moveable Type. I've been inspired by the blogs of other people, particularly those of Teresa and Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Avedon Carol, and David Scott Marley.

So here I am announcing to the universe, "Sir, I exist!"

Posted by abostick at 04:29 PM | Comments (5)

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