Baronger's Scribblings

Friday, February 25, 2005

Condoleezza Rice and Power Fashion

Condi has apparently found her powersuit. I must admit that I do like her outfit. The question is that will it make her stand out enough to really get noticed. The soldiers at the Wiesbaden army airbase, gave her a huge greeting. The Washington Post, and other's are running the photo. So is this the beginning of a presidential run.

personally I've been hoping for "Condi 2008", for a while now. Dick Morris, is saying that she has a thought. All that is needed is for this meme to penetrate the political thought of this country. The more I hear about her, the more I think she will make a great president. If Dick Cheney, steps down due to health reasons, my hope is that Condi is appointed vp in his stead.



Carnival of the Histories.

Carnival of the Recipes.

personally I am interested in the historical recipes. Ethnobotany and Ethnozoology is the study of man's past relationship with food. Any food that fell into the fire has the chance of being carbonized and then preserved. This is recovered from archaeological digs, via flotation techniques.


Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Blogs - a Brustian model

“All literature consists of whatever the writer thinks is cool. The reader will like the book to the degree that he agrees with the writer about what's cool. And that works all the way from the external trappings to the level of metaphor, subtext, and the way one uses words. In other words, I happen not to think that full-plate armor and great big honking greatswords are cool. I don't like 'em. I like cloaks and rapiers. So I write stories with a lot of cloaks and rapiers in 'em, 'cause that's cool. The novel should be understood as a structure built to accommodate the greatest possible amount of cool stuff.” -- Steven Brust

That's essentially what a blog is composed of. A blogger writes about what is cool to him or her. So here you will find stuff on space, politics, anthropology, biology, history, and culture. Everybody has there own personal cool-sphere, their little networked web of what they find cool. Instapundit is a great linker to many people, because he has a large cool-sphere. Instapundit will find something cool, and then use the blog as his "show and tell" and let us in on his find. The Professor has a more smaller cool-sphere, with an emphasis on wine and the law. The professor gives his take on blogging, in response to a post by coyote; which is that blogging about the cool stuff is fun and is why we do it.

We need to modify the rule about writing what you know. The rule should be, write about what you think is cool. I can write a tremendous bit about the marvels of paying property taxes from escrow accounts. However I don't really find it cool, it's just something I know how to do. I can blog about dealing with the different tax collectors around the U.S. and how to deal with them. I can go in depth about how to plow through payment history and determine who was at fault for a delinquent tax payment, and has eat the penalty. Yet it's not really that cool, yet I do like it somewhat because I found out that I'm good at it.

You don't need to know a lot about the subject. What you need is passion and a willingness to explore. You just need to be humble in your ignorance. Your passion for a subject will lead you to the knowledge, and let you find the cool items that also interest others. Each of us are exploring various realms of knowledge. Think of bloggers as scouts, for others that share a like interest in a cool thing. Each blogger will be at a different knowledge level, and will find the readers that are at the like level of experience. I like physics, but I doubt I could get much out of a highly technical blog.

In closing on property taxes, if you do have an escrow account that pays them; always check to make sure it's been paid at least a week before it's due. This is especially true if your mortgage was recently sold to another company. There are any number of hideous things that can go wrong. This is doubly true if it was sold close to the payment due date for the property tax. Ok, I guess I do find property tax payment sort of cool. I may need help.


Dark Matter Galax Found?

Found this via a submariner, it seems that those who live like sardines are also interested in the vastness of space. An entire galaxy of dark matter, which is invisible stuff which can't be explained. I'm still waiting for the astromoners to properly explain dark matter. Yet astronomers and physicists havn't found all the answers to the stuff we can see, so I'm not expecting an answer anytime soon.


Mars Blogging

Spirit and Oppurtunity have now been roaming about the surface of the red planet for over a year. Currently Oppurtunity seems to be in a better shape with regards to it's powersupply; while dust is threatening is giving Spirit a gloomy outlook. What was originally a 90 Sol (Martian day of 24 h 37 m), has now progressed to 380 sols for Oppurtunity and over 400 for Spirit, with no end in sight.

Thanks to the Rovers, we have a better understanding of water conditions in the past. We also have evidence from the orbiting Euro satellite of the possibility for a dust covered frozen lake. It is described as being similar to some of the frozen lakes in Antarctica. It is theorized that liquid water gushed onto the surface, and froze. This is the second time that I've seen this theory. It had been previously used to explain the erosion channels that are seen cut into the side of various Mars canyons. With water there might be life and we might not be alone.

With water existing in liquid form below the surface the possibility that we are not alone inches up. Evidence of volcanic activity hints that the interior of Mars might still be hot. On Earth we have found bacteria miles below the surface, that survive by living off of minerals such as sulfur and iron. The Antarctic Mars meteorite is thought to show evidence of these type of bacteria (by coincidence Spirit found a chunk of the same meteorite on Mars). Since we might have a warm and hospitable (for bacteria) submartian environment, similar to environments that support bacteria on Earth things are looking up for life on Mars.

My hope is that we can eventually send a probe with a drilling rig to Mars. I don't think we have the current technology, but I have hope for the future. We would probably need to drill about a mile down to find anything. There is some hope of finding caves for easy access, however I see the wildcatting method as being the more practical for now. My hope now is that we send a deep drilling probe within the next 15 years to look for these bacteria, or positive evidence for their presence.


Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Eminent Domain - Now playing at SCOTUS

Now on the docket of the Supreme Court is case 04-108, known as Susette Kelo v. City of New London. This is a case involving eminent domain. For the record I am on the side of the petitioner. The City of New London condemned the Kelo's property in order to turn the property over to a development company. The Pacific Legal Foundation recently filed a friend of the court brief in support of Susette, in the hope of reversing the abuses that started with the Poletown decision. I'm hoping that this case will put an end to the abuses of eminent domain. Local governments are turning into tyrannies, where the rich and powerful pressure governments to rob from the poor and give to the rich.

Here are some of the arguments found in the PLF's friend of the court brief with commentary.

No. 04-108
In the
Supreme Court of the United States


On Writ of Certiorari to
The Supreme Court of the State of Connecticut


This is the standard heading, which is always useful to know. The PLF is an organization dedicated to reversing the abuses of eminent domain, and restore the constitutional rights of citizens to be secure in their property. It is one thing to take land for public use, if it will be for a greater public good. It is quite another for government to take someone's land, and give it to someone else who is more politically connected. This is not rule of law but the ancient rule of might, which the constitution is supposed to protect us against.
The Fifth Amendment, as incorporated to the states, limits
the power of eminent domain to “public use[s].” The State of
Connecticut condemned private property to transfer to private
developers who use it for their own profit. Do the economic
results of this transfer constitute a “public use”?

This is the central question that is being presented in the brief. In order for the state to transfer the property they had to condemn the property. It used to be that only property that was dilapidated, rundown and unfit for inhabitation could be condemned. Now it seems that condemn basically means that you aren't paying enough taxes and someone else who will pay more should have the land. Public use is further corrupted, to mean anything that will increase the tax base. The protections that the citizentry once enjoyed are now gone, as the Fifth amendment is being interpreted so broadly, that it is essentially meaningless. According to Professor Bainbridge, this basically means we might as well roll up the bill of rights and throw it away.
Good fences make good neighbors, and one of the
strongest legal “fences” in the Constitution is the public use
clause. It prohibits citizens from using the power of eminent
domain to take their neighbors’ land for their own private


Economists call this phenomenon “rent seeking”: private
parties try to gain control of the eminent domain power and use
it for their own advantage. Rent-seeking behavior is
economically wasteful, damages the rule of law, and seriously
undermines private property rights.

I like the good fences argument. A fence in this case delineates where one persons property rights begin and another's end. Yet now powerful private interests are using their influence with government to rob people of their private property. Instead of competing for land in the free market, businesses instead pressure local governments to condemn and foreclose on private property. The power of the state is brought to bear upon property owners, who cannot defend themselves against the government/big business combine.
Robert Frost famously said that “good fences make good
neighbors.” Robert Frost, Mending Wall (1949), reprinted in
Robert Frost: Collected Poems, Prose, and Plays 39
(R. Poirier & M. Richardson eds. 1995). The phrase means that
respect for each other’s privacy and individuality reinforces the
sense of goodwill that makes for a healthy community.

Here the brief begins it's arguments, about what the harm this current state of affairs is doing to society. This is also the classic, "every man's home is his castle" argument. If someone can't be secure in the knowledge that his property can't be seized at will by the government, economic development and society are harmed. Why would anyone develop a business or fix up and care for his land, if the government could swoop in at any minute and steal it. All it takes is for someone with cronies in the local government, to force you off your land. If someone richer and more connected then you covets your nice little house, then you can say goodbye to your comfortable bed. You will be sent off homeless, with only a token payment, that does not reflect the true value of your life's hopes and dreams.
Thomas Jefferson noted that in America,
[e]very one, by his property, or by his satisfactory
situation, is interested in the support of law and
order. And such men may safely and advantageously
reserve to themselves a wholesome controul over
their public affairs, and a degree of freedom, which
in the hands of the [mob-rule] of the cities of
Europe, would be instantly perverted to the
demolition and destruction of everything public and

Letter to John Adams (Oct. 28, 1813), in The Adams-Jefferson
Letters 391 (L. Cappon ed. 1959).

Even one of our founding father's was concerned about the power of eminent domain. The right to own and maintain property was seen as a key to democracy. Destroy property rights and the very foundation of the nation are destroyed.
Eminent domain abuse puts the private property of citizens
at the mercy of each other’s whim, thus perpetually disturbing
the tranquility of society. Thomas Hobbes warned that in the
state of nature, “there [can] be no propriety, no dominion, no
mine and thine distinct; but only that to be every man’s, that he
can get: and for so long, as he can keep it.” Thomas Hobbes,
Leviathan 101 (M. Oakeshott ed., 1962) (1651). But the
framers of the Constitution specifically rejected the Hobbsian

Thomas Jefferson and the other founders, rejected the notion of Hobbes Leviathan. This is what the professor was referring too in his essay on the subject. Without the protection of government, nobody will build anything. It is easier to destroy then it is to create. In the Hobbsian world your property cannot be protected, and your life's work is easily destroyed. This creates a disincentive to create and in your own small way to improve society. Government in Jefferson's world view was supposed to protect the common man from the Leviathan, now government has become the Leviathan. The Leviathan rolls over for the rich, for it is the attack dog of the powerful. Do we want to live in a world of, "might is right?"
The “public use” clause sets up a legal “fence,” which
makes good neighbors by ensuring that their relationships are
based on mutual respect for each other’s property rights.
Property rights are essential to domestic tranquility, not only
because they ensure personal liberty and a strong economy, but
because they protect personal happiness and the public mores
of democratic society. Equating public use with public benefit
has torn down that fence, and subjected people’s homes,
businesses, and land to a process in which they have very little
voice compared to the influence of powerful interest groups.
Democratic participation becomes, not a rite of citizenship for
which people volunteer, but a struggle for the very survival of
their homes, their businesses, and their families. The “public
choice effect” is responsible for this, and only by restoring the public use clause as a meaningful limit on the power of eminent
domain, can these effects be averted.
The judgment of the Connecticut Supreme Court should
be reversed.
DATED: December, 2004.

This argument by the Pacific Legal Foundation is compelling. I only hope that the Supreme Court overturns the lower court decisions. The fifth amendment was destroyed with the Poletown decision of the Michigan Supreme court. Recently the Michigan supreme court saw the errors of it's ways and reversed itself. I can only hope that SCOTUS does the right thing. Government needs to resume it's roll of protecting the minority and powerless from the ravages of the Leviathan. Property owners need the aegis of the fifth amendment restored, and the leviathan muzzled.

UPDATE: The professor has more on the "moral outrage", that the modern interpretation of eminent domain power has become. I'm right there with him. I still couldn't believe it when a row of businesses were condemend to increase the revenue of a local mall.

Links: Volokh, Knight-Ridder


Monday, February 21, 2005

Blogs on Blogs

CSJ has an article on successful blogging how too's, which links to brigg's blog.

Brigg's has his take on the 10 rules of the successful blogger. Here is my review of his points. But explore his site and determine for yourself.


Rule 1:
"Read more blogs," gives us a link to two blogger blogs. This is a very useful rule as it gives us real world examples of what works and what doesn't. Not to mention, it can give you something to comment on. ;)
Micro Persuasion

Rule 2:
Use a link blog. Sounds like a useful bit of advice. I think however a scrap blog might be even more useful. For links I just use my bookmarks that I already have on firefox. However a scrapbook blog or maybe even a livejournal might be more useful. Opening up a gmail account dedicated to your blog, would work too as it is searchable. A link blog by it's nature would be an incomplete and chaotic mess. I really don't think that you should present the unedited you.

Rule 3:
Make sure your blog has a feed. An RSS feed is really important apparently. I really need to look into it. Not even sure if the RSS feed on my own blog is active. I'll make a note of this in my dedicated gmail account.

Rule 4:
Find a niche and evolve it. Currently my niche seems to be commenting on blogs. I'm hoping to expand it into geography. I have a bachelors degree in anthropology and my true love is cultures and how humans came to be as we are. Eventually this blog might come to reflect the stylings of "National Geographic". My current interest is North Korea, South Korea and Japan; however it will probably switch back to the silk road. There is not enough written on Khotan (Hotan), either present or past but I've done what I could with Wikipedia.

Rule 5:
Link, link and comment. Keeping that in mind here. It's one of the great things about the internet. Without linking we might as well be reading a book, newspaper or article on just a different medium. The hyperlink is what gives blogs their depth. Comments and trackbacks are your friend, remember this when you read other blogs.

Rule 6:

Keep notes on everything. If you have a convenient gmail account this is really easy. Instead of using notepad as is recommended, I think gmail is much more flexible. With the ability to categorize and search it is a really powerful tool. Livejournal as a private notepad is also really useful. Also since they are accessible from the internet they are much more useful if you are mobile or switch computers.

Rule 7:
Make sure your presentation is good. I have links to grammar and writing sites. My biggest problem is implementation though. I endeavor to write grammatically and clearly, however sometimes speed and a hasty edit defeats my best efforts. As you may have already seen, I am a lousy editor. Writing takes as much debugging as programming. I am often amazed when I re-read something I have written. I have weaknesses for homophones and often what is so clearly in my head looks lousy on the page. I realize that the presentation is of utmost importance. If the person reading this blog can't understand what I'm saying, then what's the point of writing.

Rule 8:
Be interesting, even controversial, but not stupid. Blog about what you know. This is very important advise. However I think you can blog about the unknown if you let your reader know, that you are likewise on a journey of discovery. But, you need to be very humble when you do this. State why you believe something to be true and give references as to why you believe it. More importantly, solicit feedback and ask for opinions. When you give an opinion, give a logical reason for it.

Rule 9:
Be funny. Is this a license for me to pun? Levity is very important, as is not being serious all the time. George W. Bush had a great opening joke for his speech in Europe today. He compared himself to Benjamin Franklin, in a joking manner. It was one of the best opening jokes in a speech I've heard. It was self deprecating, yet it also hinted at what he would like to be.
You know, on this journey to Europe I follow in some large footsteps. More than two centuries ago, Benjamin Franklin arrived on this continent to great acclaim. An observer wrote, "His reputation was more universal than Leibnitz or Newton, Frederick or Voltaire, and his character more beloved and esteemed than any or all of them." The observer went on to say, "There was scarcely a peasant or a citizen who did not consider him as a friend to human kind." I have been hoping for a similar reception -- (laughter) -- but Secretary Rice told me I should be a realist. (Laughter.)

Remember a bit of honey, since a blog full of vinegar is sure to sour on the audience.

Rule 10:
Stick at it. This is very important. I will try not to skip to many days. Maybe I should have a reserve. That way I can always be sure to have at least one article to post. If you can't think of anything, link to another interesting blog and comment on what they are saying. Remember Instapundit became famous for doing just that.


But how do I cite it?

Orin Kerr, one of the bloggers over at the Volokh Conspiracy, has an interesting series of articles; on how bloggers, are probably going to affect the future of law reviews. Since blogs can analyze, and bring more expertise to bear on court decisions and laws; they will probably eclipse the law review in a few years.

The big question though is, how do I cite these blogs. Here is where credentials do matter. I know Volokh is a group of lawyers, because Instapundit has vouched for them, as he has done for Professor Bainbridge. Instapundit was vouched for by the MSM, and has even appeared on several programs in person. If law bloggers assume such an important role shouldn't there be some verification.

This seems to be a role tailor made for the bar association. They can even protect the anonymity of the blog in question. All it would take is a quick check to the bar association, which can be linked to from the blog. More importantly the bar association can serve as a backup archive for the blogs. This archive would also serve as a cross-referencing link, and hopefully a searchable database.

I don't know how they would classify Bainbridges wine reviews. But then again knowing which wines are good can make a difference when taking clients out to dinner. So even a wine review could serve some legal business purposes.


Saturday, February 19, 2005

Shoes as weapons

Looks like the professor had the same thought I had.


Thursday, February 17, 2005

Bloggers are Journalists - The ripening meme

It seems that this meme is gaining ground. A journalist is someone who reports his or her ideas about the state of current affairs to the public through a medium. The Web is one such medium (note AP style capitalization of Web). It looks like all branches of government are accepting this.

Legislation to give blogs same access to FOI as journalists.

Plame decision: Bloggers are considered to be judges by appellate court.

So far I have just been giving my opinions on various aspects, though I could do some local reporting. According to varifrank and other journalist bloggers, this is supposed to be the ultimate future of blogging. Since bloggers will eventually be worldwide, this also means that anything major will happen in the vicinity of a blogger.


Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Beldar on Plame decision

Beldar scores the Plame decision, which deals with journalists and the first amendment.

His score is Prosecution 34 and Journalists 0. That is if this was looked at, as if it was a football game.

The final conclusion: Journalists have no more priviledges then those of ordinary citizens. Just because you write for a MSM outlet does not give you special status above that of the common man. All that is required to be a journalist is to pick up pen and paper (and nowdays a cell phone with camera doesn't hurt) and go out and find something and report it.


A hoot of a murder!

Well not really, but sad and tragic like all murders are. Yet for some reason this one did not catch the national headlines. A hooters waitress was murdered, and the suspect is of course her boyfriend. Even though the evidence is flimsy and someone else confessed the prosecutor is still going after him. I wonder if it's getting to the point where boyfriends/husbands had better call their lawyers, before the police in cases like this.

The question which is unanswered here is why do some cases make the national news and others don't. We seem to have all the angles here: Girlfriend, sexy hooters waitress, killed innocently on the way home, orphaned son. Do the news networks just put up the police blotters and throw darts at it? So why aren't we seeing the headline, "A hoot of a murder!". Come on we have a hooters waitress, I'm sure copy editors would be all over this.

If exhonerated can the defendent sue the police and prosecutor for malicious prosecution? Let's see we have somone else who confessed and absolutley no evidence. Further it looks like there is a sound aliby for the boyfriend. But of course this doesn't fit neatly into the prosecutor's neat models, of who is supposed to kill hooter waitresses.

Link to newspaper.


The Caravansary

Instapundit now describes himself as a barker. A more apt description is probably a caravansaray. Though this is mainly because I'm emphasizing the wandering nature of a carnival. I wonder if that makes this blog a sort of caravansaray too since I keep promoting them too.

Here are the latest carnivals via Instapundit:

Carnival of the Vanities
Carnival of Education
Carnival of the Liberated
Red Ensign Standard (Carnival of the Canadians)


Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Blogging Credentials

I have added another journalist to my blog-roll. Since blogging is supposed to be the new and upcoming form of journalism, it is probably best to see how the actual credentialed experts do it. So now in addition to "The Savy Literate"; I now have "Common Sense Journalism" in my blog-roll. One blog by a fairly new journalist and one by a seasoned veteran of the field. Both are recognized journalists, complete with credentials.

In the wake of the Eason Jordon affair, the MSM has released a torrent of vitriol upon bloggers. The thrust of the MSM argument is that bloggers have no credentials, therefore they have no right to comment. CSJ being a credentialed journalist with a blog, has a different take on this. Yet the whole argument goes off on a tangent, of who is properly a credentialed reporter. Without credentials how can anyone be credible they argue.

The MSM wants reporters to be treated like lawyers. The MSM is a member of the fourth estate, just like a lawyer is a member of the standard first three estates. In order to report, you have to pass the equivalent of the bar exam. Freedom of speech and the press only belongs to those who have passed the right courses, and gotten accepted to the right institutions. Yet where exactly did the MSM get these credentials themselves?

Credibility flows in both directions. A person rises up from the crowd, and gets respect and power from others. If everyone says someone is powerful and influential, that person is powerful by that very fact. The more people who say this, the more it's true. This is why instapundit is so powerful today. Instapundit is powerful only because thousands read him and say to others, "yes this is a big blog, that is influential." The same thing happened with each one of the major papers of today. They arose and became credentialed, because of all the paper choices out there; people choose to bestow them with the power. The MSM then loans this power to the reporters, and give them the credentials of their acquired power.

So where are the credentials among the bloggers? Yes there is the power of the number of readers, yet there is also the second direction. It is found on the sidebar of most blogs. The blog-roll is a form of credentialing. When a blogger puts someone on their blog-roll, they are saying, "here is a worthwhile blog to read." They are lending the power that their own blog has acquired to another blog. Just as a newspaper lends it's power to it's reporters.

Just as newspapers monitor and evaluate their reporters the same thing happens in blogs. Most of blogging is in fact review of what other bloggers do. It's a constant furor of cross-checking and fact-checking. This is good since if you blog-roll someone you also lend someone part of your reputation. Since reputation is key in the blogsphere, one should always check on the blogs in your blog-roll. I for example have blog-rolled instapundit. So just remember Mr. Reynolds I am keeping an eye on you. After all credentials are only as good, as the reputation behind them.

So far the MSM is losing reputation. The reporters are screaming about the bloggers lack of credentials. Reporters had better look to their own credentials. When it comes down to it a blogger and a reporter at the end of the day stand on their reputations both personal and borrowed. It's ok to look at someone's credentials, but in the end it's better to look at the raw facts and the conclusions that are drawn. Credentials are like a first impression, they only give someone initial standing. Where you stand after your report will depend on how good you are.

Credentials get you in the door. Credentials are just a reflection of your credibility. People will give some weight to your past credibility when evaluating what you wrote. Always remember though that, credibility is like reputation. Both need to be constantly maintained or they will fly away. It is easier to destroy then to create. The Main stream media seem intent on destroying overnight, what it took a century to build.


Blog Busking

A violin player sits on the corner playing his music. Pedestrians pass by, some stopping to appreciate the tune. At his feet is his open violin case. A few coins have been tossed in. The song goes on, but payment for it is not expected. The player knows this, yet he plays on the public street. No price for admission, but please leave a little token of your appreciation. He has given you a moment of happiness, knowing that most won't return the favour.

So are bloggers the electronic equivalent of buskers when it comes to their tip jars. They are more akin to someone on a speaker's circuit. Unable to afford the hall their ancient equivalent would be a speaker on a soapbox, with a hat laid out for money. Unless bloggers make their sites, subscription access only they will be playing on a public street.

So is the money a gift or is it income? That is the question the tax professor is asking. If we follow the busking model it is clearly income, and should be reported. The very act of putting a tip jar in the template is the equivalent of leaving out an open instrument case or an overturned hat. A performance is being put on in the hope that some in the audience will tip a little extra over the free admission charge. I'm pretty sure that like a good busker they will not claim that they are merely begging for free gifts.

A tip is income in exchange for an appreciated service, a gift is given just because; and often in pity, when given to someone on a street corner.


Monday, February 14, 2005

Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis

Just found this on instapundit. Didn't know this was in the offering, when I wrote my carnival piece. But it seems that the carnival is going to be a relationship structure in the blogsphere. The marketplace of ideas is patterning itself after an actual market model. We are social animals, and have an instinctive need to organize. The blogsphere is just beginning that organization.

Another social structure according to Volkh is the persuasing group. This is his thesis, to replace the lynch mob meme of the MSM. A bunch of blogs that comeing together, to advocate or persuade on a particular idea or meme. This is the more accurate discription of what happens when blogs go after a person.

I must say researching this has been an educational experience.

I might as well put on my anthropologists hat, and research this some more. After all I am an anthropologist, or at least that's what it says on my sheepskin. "Coming of age in the Blogsphere," would be a traditional riff on a classic work.

So in conclusion a carnival of carnivals. As of yet I have not discovered a jahrmarkt though. This would be a huge annual carnival of carnivals. Since bandwidth and time is precious, these caravans probably won't settle down anytime soon. Forever wandering, their size fluctuating as vendors join and leave. The reputation and the skill of the chosen caravan master determining the success of the carnival.


How to market your blog

Since I have a new blog this little gem from the "Carnival of the Capitalists" caught my eye. It's an odd gem but I'm sure to find a good setting for it. Like a bower bird I need to set it just right in the nest. The content of my own little bower is still almost empty. Flasy and gaudier nests like Instapundit already exist, attracting readers that would otherwise visit my bower. But this little gem not only provides content; for it is a magical gem. If properly invocted it will make the rest of the bower shine. Like light through a fancy jewel the sparkles are the prize.


Let's have a carnival

Today we have the 14th edition of the "Carnival of The Capitalists." This is a huge grouping of economist blogs. Yes the blogsphere is not all politics. Though economics is probably politics near cousin. Weekendpundit is hosting this carnival. He has done a nice job too, and it's not a simple listing of links. It's divided into sections and there is a short synopsis and intro to each of the blogs that are taking part in the festivities.

The first carnival I saw was the "Carnival of the Cats," which was a huge grouping of catblogging. Since then the phenomenon of canrivaling has taken off. These function much in the same way as the old medieval markets. They are held regularly, and gather all the vendors together in a central town square. The only difference is that this is a market of ideas. What the blog-sphere has done is bring the market-place of ideas into a true reality. So from recipes to economics we now have regular market days.

From Merriam-Webster's
Main Entry: car·ni·val
Pronunciation: 'kär-n&-v&l
Function: noun
Etymology: Italian carnevale, alteration of earlier carnelevare, literally, removal of meat, from carne flesh (from Latin carn-, caro) + levare to remove, from Latin, to raise
1 : a season or festival of merrymaking before Lent
2 a : an instance of merrymaking, feasting, or masquerading b : an instance of riotous excess [a carnival="" of="" violence=""]
3 a : a traveling enterprise offering amusements b : an organized program of entertainment or exhibition : FESTIVAL

The blog carnival is bringing back and reinterpreting the third definition. This is because no one person, is the main host of the carnival. It moves from blog to blog, usually regulated by the central blog that started it. Each blog putting together information it thinks will sell the best in the market-place of ideas. Sending out notices to prospective blogs to submit entrees.

The market is a great boon, for both the buyers and sellers of information. It makes it easier for them to find each other. For the blogger it gives them a chance to be noticed. For the consumer it let's them easily compare the wares, in order to find the best sources of information. The carnival tends to bring out the best goods. The organizer of the carnival, makes things easier to find and can even vet the various entries. The consumers go around commenting, on the various blogs; giving feedback and choice opinions in trade. Properly organized everyone wins out.

From the chaos of the blogs an organizational force has appeared. Though still chaotic, there begins to develop an underlying order. Trusted sources and big names serve as a nucleus around which markets develop. Instead of millions of voices crying atop lonely mountain peaks, we have the bustle of the ancient market. Still chaotic there is an underlying order. Like a seed crystal dropped into solution, nucleation begins.

Reputation is what everyone strives for. Reputation cannot be brought, but can only be given. It is the reputation of certain bloggers that serve as the nucleus around which a society forms. Thousands of blog entries, like a bunch of carnival wagons gather to circle around a reputable blogger. They add their shouts to the din, but they are no longer shouting an isolated mountain. The marketplace bustles for a couple of days and then dissolves till the next carnival. Some go away richer in reputation and some go away poorer. Some will win more blog hits in the future, and some will lose out. Either way the democritization of information is winning out.

All we need now is an annual Jahrmarkt to develop. Soon no doubt we will have conventions in the physical world. The barbarians are no longer at the gates. The main stream media, long the gate keepers of information no longer decide the topics of discussion. Instead the carnival pulls up to the gates of the MSM and holds a fair. The carnival is not a replacement to MSM, it is an appendage. The MSM wanders through the streets of these impromptu bazaars and picks up information. The blogs don't really want to destroy MSM, they just want to add their voice.

Who are these big names? Blogs like Instapundit which serves as a a general reference to what is happening. Blogs like the marmot which serve as a regional blog. Blogs like SWWBO which assisted in the creation of the carnivals. They rise up and other blogs gravitate to them. They form the hubs of network links. The carnivals are a collection of individuals and as such they will merge, split up and new ones will arise from the wilderness. Slowly the new market-place of ideas gathers form.


Sunday, February 13, 2005

Did the marmot see his shadow?

I know that groundhogs day has passed, but the puny reference had to be made. So does the marmot predict six more weeks of North Korea hysteria. Not if the other 4 members of the 6 way talks have their way. China can pinch their fuel. S. Korea can pinch off fertilizer. Japan can affect them economically. This is why NK wants only bilateral talks, they know that in a six way they can be brought to heel.

The only interest that the United States has in this conflict is protecting Japan and South Korea. As such it would be extremely arrogant of us to unilaterally decide policy for them. The other countries in the area are not little children that submit to the will of the United States. They each have an equal right to participate in the talks and to negotiate a final resolution. To do otherwise would be an insult to the other countries in the region.

What NK is basically doing is blackmail. They are holding South Korea hostage. They have artillery pieces pointed at Seoul, and demand free stuff in exchange for not killing millions. North Korea is demanding dane-geld, and the best way for them to continue getting it is to draw the U.S. into unilateral talks.

Our interest in the regions is defined by the other nations. China as the closest country to North Korea should rightly take the lead. Our role should be supporting if anything. We are only there to protect and our interests are only a reflection of the other countries interest.

Edit: Varifrank also has some useful links and ideas on the subject. Though I don't know where the whole, "Kim wants more Dane-geld fits," into his four theories.


Carnival of the Recipes #26

The recipe blogging goes on. I've seen quite a few interesting ones. I'd join in but I would actually need to write mine down. I've gotten to the add spice until it feels right stage. I do it by instinct acquired over a long period of trial and error. I don't think I can write down, "and add chili powder till the little voice in your head tells you to stop." It works for me now ... but only since I have had tremendous failures in the past.

I was reminded of the carnival by SWWBO, who hosts the carnival on occasion and is the main organizer. She also does cat blogging, which I would do too if only I had a digital camera. Since I don't have a camera I will just say that my cat Phoebe was really cute today. I woke up to find her purring by my head. So just take my word for it, she was really adorable.

edit: Future carnivals till March 25.


Ward Churchill

I stand by the first amendment in that he does have a right to say what he wants. However, he does not have a right to insist that others pay him to say it. He is being paid by the tax-payers of Colorado to say what he says. By firing him the tax payers would exercise their right of free speech.

So I say that he can say what he wants to say, but he has to pay for it himself. I'm pretty sure he has enough of a podium now that he can actually fund raise and go on a speaking tour. Just so long as people who don't want to give him money aren't forced to pay for him I say let him speak his peace.

He is doing more harm to his cause every time he speaks. Freedom of speech means that you can say anything you want to in any medium. It doesn't mean that the medium has to be supplied to you. You can stand on the soapbox and shout your views, but you have to supply the soapbox. You have no right to force others who disagree with you to build the soapbox for you.

His soapbox right now is his tenure. There is evidence that he got this tenure by fraudulent means. Some are saying that he is not using his tenure properly and meeting it's obligations. His tenure is his soapbox, that was built and maintained by the taxpayers of Colorado. The giving of the soapbox is an act of "free speech". The taxpayers of Colorado have the right to take back the soapbox and give it to someone else.

The only way to really deal with him is to shun him. Until he advocates the violent overthrow of the government in time of war there is nothing to be done with him. The way to deal with him is more free speech. However I am also concerned about the free speech of students are under the charge of an ideologue.

Let the professor go off and build his own soapbox is what I say. That's what Michael Moore did. Michael Moore doesn't receive money from taxpayers, he has built his own soapbox (which is very heavily reinforced). What will probably happen is he will just go off and become Michael Moore Light. Look for him on the local speaking circuit. Just make sure that he is paid funds from ticket sales only and special fund raisers.

A newspaper has no obligation to print your views. A television station has no obligation to give you free air time. Both organizations are businesses which have operating expenses and their own rights to free speech. Same with a university funded by the state. The question is where does your right to free speech stop and my right to free speech begin. The providing of funds for speech has long been found to be speech itself. By buying a ticket to a Ward Churchill speech you are engaging in speech yourself. But forcing someone to buy a ticket means that you are taking away someone's free speech.

Tenure reform is a post for another article. Tenure has the same pros and cons as does lifetime appointments for judges. It's complicated and there are pros and cons to it. My main point is that both take away accountability. A position that is supposed to serve the people must be held accountable to the people. Absolute power tends toward absolute corruption.


Friday, February 11, 2005

N. Korea - Solutions appear murky

With North Korea we are back to good old fashioned real politics. In other words all agreements need to be backed up by the threat of force. North Korea has shown little regard to agreements, and is very forceful in it's political moves. Remember this is the country that gave us the classic laugh line, "and after months of negotiation we have finely decided on the shape and size of the table."

Found an interesting post on varifrank. I'm in agreement with him on China. China will be the country that will be able to make North Korea heel to world demands. This I believe is why NK wants China out of the negotiation and only wants unilateral talks with the United States. Right now the United States is more important to China then North Korea is. In fact China is getting tired of rounding up North Korean defectors. With the admission by North Korea that they have nukes, China has lost face. In my opinion the United States should take a back seat and only act as a moderator/enabler for the countries that are most at risk. I think that if North Korea bends to a settlement brokered by China, they won't dare to break it and thus piss off China.

Remember that technically we are still at war with North Korea. What we have now is technically still a temporary cease fire. The issues that brought about the Korean war have not been settled. North Korea doesn't care if all it has is a devastated peninsular. The goal is a unified Korea, which is a goal on both sides of the border. Remember never think that your worldview is universal, just because you think that war solves nothing doesn't mean someone else has another view. North Korea I believe still feels that the only thing preventing them from reuniting the peninsula is the United States. If anything the Iraq situation has irritated the Kim because it ruins his hope that we would do notion if he invaded. He is desperate and I think waving his nuke card in order to try to scare us out of South Korea. I hardly think that South Korea would be safer if we withdraw and "stop antagonizing him." The best solution is probably delay; sooner or later the regime has to collapse under it's own inefficiencies.

Currently being discussed on Megatokyo - registration required.



Stolen from coppersblog

Don't really need to say anything more. I guess a picture really is worth a thousand words.


American wine taste - wine

Very definitely true for my tastes.

I like fruity wines with very little tannin. Some tannin is good for bite but it should be nice and smooth.

I mainly prefer 'blancs.


Monday, February 07, 2005

Northern Ireland: Demographic issues.

I've been thinking about the various demographic crunch that faces the first world. Recently we had a post in Megatokyo's forums that dealt with Northern Ireland, but dove-tailed into this problem. I know that Israel faces a similar situation but I hadn't really given Northern Ireland much thought.

The Catholic population of Northern Ireland is increasing at a faster rate then the Protestants growth rate. The Catholic church's emphasis on no birth control and large families has to have an effect sooner or later on demographics. Since Northern Ireland is a democracy, this will give the advantage to the larger population. As an aside; I've always wondered if this has been the goal of the Catholic's church's policies from the beginning.

The IRA is seen as the main aggressor now because they are the anti-government forces. If this flip occurs it will be interesting to see what happens. I predict that the orange faction which is going to lose power will become the main aggressor after the demographic flip. They will see themselves as losing power and fear Catholic retribution so will rapidly increase their violent activities.

Hopefully, they will be a point of equilibrium where both factions have about equal populations. I don't see it happening though. Once a group has power they are extremely reluctant to give up that power. My prediction is we are either going to see mass emigration of Protestants out of Northern Ireland once the flip occurs or an entrenchment and escalation of the violence.

As for GB pulling out of Northern Ireland. I believe the stated reason for them being there in the first place is that the majority of the population of N. Ireland want to be a part of the Kingdom. With the population flip, this argument might be turned on its head. At that point unless there are more advantages to remaining with Britain for the Irish loyalists, things are going to get sticky.

The only advantage I see would be economic, and with the way the British economy is going, I don't see the majority population of the future voting to stay in the union. Especially since at about that time the UK like most European countries is supposed to have an inverted pyramid demographic. This is a situation I hadn't really thought about when I was thinking about the coming population crunch of the first world.

Of course a solution would be to encourage immigration of Indian Protestants to Northern Ireland. Right now I see immigration from the third world as a solution to the various first world population crunches. It's why I support immigration in the United States. But the question is how would the IRA react to this sort of tactic?


Sunday, February 06, 2005

Tori Amos: New Album

Hosted by

This is the feature that finaly prompted me to start the blog. Here you can see a nice pic of the cover of Tori Amos's new CD. I've been a huge fan of hers since her first album. I still remember wishing that she had more then one album, and then more then two. Even now I think she doesn't have enough albums.

I love her piano based songs that are sung from the heart. Her concerts are amazing as she always puts a little spin on the older songs in her playlist. Her amazing range and energy a joy to listen to. She is one of my favorite musical artists, and I am really looking forward to this latest work of hers..

I am posting this through Photobucket, with the feature that initially prompted me to start this blog. I think it needs some treaking though. Either that or firefox is being finicky on the cut/paste. Since blogger has a spellcheck I'll probably stick with it, as I am prone to typos.

Tori Amos's site can be found here.

The album is Coming out February 22.

<Edit> Ok, it posted with to many blank lines so I had to edit this again in blogger. I think it would probably be easier to just do the posting in blogger. I may use the photobucket account if I'm just going to be posting quick images.


Cat Blogging

In the tradition of Instapundit I shall dedicate a post to my cat.

Don't worry this won't turn into a cat-blogging blog. Well luckily I don't own a digital camera. Anyway these are some pictures of my cat, that my sister took while she was visiting me. Maybe I should just upgrade to a digital camera.

Anyway Phoebe is a snowshoe. She is basically a cross between a seal-point Siamese and a tabby. I adopted her two and a half years ago from Petsmart. The poor thing had been abused and still hates to be picked up. But she does enjoy curling up in laps and purring.


Why create a blog?

I can always go the James Dean, rebel without a cause route.

"What have you got"

But is a blog just a means of rebelling. The modern equivilant of going up the mountain to shout defiance at the universe. To proudly state, this is who I am and these are my opinions. To the ancients doing this meant risking a bolt of lightning from the gods. Today with blogs we just have the occasional flamey comments.

This is probably not going to be a very coherent blog. My interests are too wide ranging. Also I'll have to see about the update schedule. I've been reading blogs for a while now and I thought I'd see if I could do one. So if you read this prepare for a rollercoaster ride of topics.

What finaly motivated me to start a blog? Why the simple fact is that photobucket now has blog support. Yes an insane and utterly silly reason isn't it. So don't none of you say that you havn't been warned. *grin*


Yes I use emotes and emoticons as they give the internet personality.

Most of my emotes come from grimnemud. Grimne was a dikumud that was based in Norway, in which my character achieved immortality. The basic principle behind an emote is you typed it in and the rest of the people in the room with you got a character responce. *Grin*, would give the responce of, "Baronger grins evily at you."

Yes I'm reusing my characters name. But hey when you come up with a great name why discard it. In other words I didn't want to angst over what I should name this blog. Actually "no angst" shall be a firm rule. Everybody has enough to angst over on their own without me adding my angst to their's. If you want angst read livejournal. (I need to figure out how html links work on this thing)


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