Blogger, explain thyself
Sometime in the past day or so, I received a comment challenging my reasons for blogging, and referring to my opinions as "copycat branding." He asks "What do you think it says to me about the effort you are making to advance public discourse in a genuine way worthy of your education, rather than just scoring imaginary points in front of an imaginary audience? If you have this blog going because you believe in a particular ideology, why bother? That ideology will do just fine without you defending it." Then comes my favorite two lines: "I think you know what I mean. You can do better!"
Well, I thought I'd respond to "mike" with a post all its own, addressing the reasons I got into blogging, the reasons I continue, and the goals for this site. Before I get into this, however, I should point out that mike's expectations are way off base. Mike came here, I can only assume, because he posts on DailyKos, where I have been seen quite regularly this week.
I come under attack at DailyKos very often for being a "freeper" or a "troll" or a "wingnut" or whatever other made-up political technobabble they choose on a given day—and it gets me angry, oftentimes.
Why? I can't possibly expect to be accepted by a bunch of people who loathe everything I stand for, can I? No, of course not. But I can expect them to have enough foresight to listen to me. I know, I know, why do I think I have anything special to offer? Simple: I'm patient. If you've never been, you should go read the comments posted on DailyKos sometime—it's not as bad as Democratic Underground, but it's pretty incredible. What they've got going over there is an echo chamber. The amount that the Kossacks substantively disagree with each other is unbelievably small. Of course, this makes sense, as the reason they go there is for meet-ups and so forth, to build strength in their movement. And that's fine.
The problem is, in politics, as with anything, you can't win without understanding your opponent. I go to Kos to learn about my opposition, to debate issues with them, to understand by experience. I do so respectfully, and I do so with the full intention of disclosing my beliefs and why I hold them. So, I'm patient enough to put up with the attacks, and carefully explain that the Kossacks stand to gain as much from me as I do from them—and because of that, I stick around and they do gain from understanding my position, if they choose to.
So, "mike" came to see my blog most likely with this in the back of his mind. Of course, I don't blog here for the same reason I post on DKos. So why do I blog?
I got into blogging because of my my brother and his friends, who started diet coke for breakfast back in early 2003. Later that year—around September, I believe—I was invited by James and Jake to join them. I posted exclusively there for a time. Eventually I tried my own blog, which failed several times, and a bipartisan group blog, whose remnants still exist here. Finally, on January 28, 2004 I posted here, at Running for the Right: "So, we're gonna give this another shot. My first two attempts at a solo-post blog have failed, and it looks like elmivy might be dying too. So, this is going to be an Andrew Sullivan, or Glenn Reynolds type of blog. That is, I will link to things I find interesting or funny, and make comments. The format will likely change over the next few days/weeks, but hopefully I'll make this a regular thing for once... "
Clearly, my goal was in no way to further political debate, or to have both sides expressed. The point is for me to publish my thoughts, and link to articles I find interesting. If other people find them interesting, then I'm glad they enjoy it—if not, then they need never return.
And over time, my efforts did indeed change. My sub-head eventually evolved to "Strategy-focused political thoughts from a conservative Yalie," as political strategy—both electoral and otherwise—occupies the focus of my interest. I blog, therefore, to publicize my take on things. Unfortunately, with the election past, and the next one not in full swing yet, there is little strategy on which to focus, and my posts have turned more often to explanations of what I believe.
And this, of course, is why mike indicts my intentions. In his mind, I'm just like all the rest, and I'm wasting words to defend an ideal that is so well defended.
Well, mike, I don't expect you to understand, but there is distinction on the Right. Yes, many people believe the things I do—but if you truly believe that your position as expressed on DKos is unique, then you're deluded. Blogging is not restricted to one person of each set of beliefs. I write to defend my beliefs on DKos so that I can learn from the Kossacks, and in return they can learn from me if they like. I write to defend my beliefs here, because I know that a lot of the people who read this are not familiar with what I believe, and because many of the people who share some beliefs with me do not share others. My ideals are not those that control the Republican Party these days, so they are anything but dominant, and every little bit helps.
Like I've said many times, if you don't enjoy my posts (I'm not intelligent, my analysis isn't original, my views are wrong, whatever) don't come back. I don't need the hate mail, or the harsh posts—though I know they'll continue as long as I'm posting—but I welcome questions and disagreement. Debate is fine, and I'm happy to engage in it—just understand that I'm not here to find a resolution to political disputes, I'm here to express my side of that dispute, pure and simple.
Saturday, February 19, 2005
Blogger, explain thyself
Friday, February 18, 2005
Yale hits it big, again
Yale students protest treatment of women according to an article covered by CNN.com, after being picked up by the AP. Actually, they were protesting Yale president Rick Levin's refusal to condemn the comments of fellow Ivy League president Larry Summers's comments about women—but we all know how I feel about that. I'd rather draw your eye to something my brother pointed out: "Pro-union graduate students made it clear that they saw Thursday's rally as part of their union drive. The group is still regrouping from a 2003 vote in which graduate students rejected the union."
Got that? As my brother put it, "they're trying to unionize people who voted against unionization."
Bear in mind, these are people that go to Yale—doesn't bode well for the future of my alma mater's reputation, does it?
Change is good
You may have noticed some changes to my blogroll, made yesterday and today mostly. To start, I added Power Line a while back, since they seem to be pretty big movers and shakers in conservative blogging. I've also added JustOneMinute for similar reasons—I've been meaning to do this for quite a while, and was spurred by a post from yesterday.
I've deleted seditious libel from my 'Yale Blogs' section—no reflection on the quality of the blog, it just isn't updated nearly enough to maintain my interest.
I've also removed Elm and Ivy from the list of "Blogs to which I contribute," because I believe it to be officially dead. Both Tyler and I are seniors, about to graduate, who seem to have failed at creating a bipartisan group discussion blog on this campus. It's unfortunate, but it is the way of things. And it has been replaced by my newest blog, which is in fact not my blog. (Now you're thinking what?) I've added a link to my girlfriend's blog, Lexi's Life, where she allows me to post. I must warn you that you'll see a completely different side of me (it is in no way a political blog) over there, but you're welcome to browse it. Oh, and don't be too critical of her, she's not the partisan I am, and she's very new to blogging.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy these changes. Oh, and any of you out there who may be reading this, if you have blogs of your own that you think I may enjoy, let me know! I'm always looking for new allies.
More and Less
An editorial piece in the WSJ today makes points similar to those in the Michael Crichton lecture that I linked to on Wednesday, specifically that Global Warming science has been co-opted by politics. The resulting implication is importan: "The world is being lobbied to place a huge economic bet--as much as $150 billion a year--on the notion that man-made global warming is real. Businesses are gearing up, at considerable cost, to deal with a new regulatory environment; complex carbon-trading schemes are in the making. Shouldn't everyone look very carefully, and honestly, at the science before we jump off this particular cliff?"
Read the article to find out why they came to that conclusion. It's logical, but instead too many alarmists have decided that global warming is fact, with a sort of evangelical aggression—and the science suffers.
At the same time, CNN.com is perpetuating the junk, saying: "Studies looking at the oceans and melting Arctic ice leave no room for doubt that it is getting warmer, people are to blame, and the weather is going to suffer, climate experts have said."
Of course, the study in question does seem to prove that the earth is warming, beyond most doubts. Unfortunately, it has absolutely nothing to do with establishing the cause of that warming. In the press conference releasing the paper, yes, one of the scientists who wrote it claimed that there is no denying man's effect on the warming trend—unfortunately those are his opinions, not the content of his paper.
So why does CNN repeat the Reuters story based on nothing? It's a good question to which we'll probably never get an answer.
Thursday, February 17, 2005
Perpetuation of myths
It seems that some people feel the need to advance lies and deceptive myths.
I'm referring here to that old meme that Ashcroft covered up the nude statues behind him in press conferences because he's a prude. Well, Jay Nordlinger diffused this myth years ago. Since some people obviously didn't get the message, and I can't post the link (not even the web address) on Bulldog Blue—due to their prudish comments filter that somehow found something wrong with the URL to the article—I'll reproduce the main point here:
"The Breast was pretty quiet during the eight years of Janet Reno. As one peeved administration official puts it, 'No cameraman was ever at Reno's feet, trying to get a shot of her with that thing.' But Minnie Lou's [the statue's] outstanding feature stormed back with Ashcroft. When President Bush visited the Justice Department to rededicate the building to Robert Kennedy, his advance men insisted on a nice blue backdrop: 'TV blue,' infinitely preferable to the usual dingy background of the Great Hall. Everyone thought the backdrop worked nicely — made for 'good visuals,' as they say. This was Deaverism, pure and simple. Ashcroft's people intended to keep using it.Seems a little deceptive, doesn't it?
An advance woman on his team had the bright idea of buying the backdrop: It would be cheaper than renting it repeatedly. So she did — without Ashcroft's knowledge, without his permission, without his caring, everyone in the department insists.
But ABC put out the story that Ashcroft, the old prude, had wanted the Breast covered up, so much did it offend his churchly sensibilities."
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Kyoto is nothing but hot air
Since today is the day the Kyoto treaty for climate control—or whatever the heck it's actually called—goes into effect, I thought I'd share one of my pet theories with you, in the form of a paper on Solar Activity and Climate that I recently uncovered. First, a little background.
In high school, I did a research paper on global warming policy, focusing on the scientific basis for and against certain arguments. In months of research, I discovered a theory less-well known than the traditional "man-made green gases are the only explanation for the increase in earth temperatures" explanation of observed global warming. The theory, to my knowledge, has never been explained away, it's simply been ignored by all mainstream press.
Using data I found at the time, I overlayed some solar information, regarding sunspots more specifically, with climate data, and was amazed by the result. So, I leave you with the evidence, for you to decide. I recommend reading the paper, but here's the main point of it, presented in one of their tables:
UPDATE [2/16/2005 - 20:29] A great lecture given by Michael Crichton addresses the nature of junk science (known as consensus—something science never needed in order to be right before) behind global warming. It's a bit long, but read the whole thing.
Day By Day gave me a great chuckle today:
In point of fact, it's a fast attack submarine.
UPDATE [2/16/2005 - 12:40]:ScrappleFace has it's own hilarious take. Be sure to click and find out why they specify "Seahare-class" for extra amusement: "President Carter, who brought peace to the middle east, vigorously defended America's right to give away the Panama Canal and, in 1994, convinced North Korea to abandon talking about its nuclear weapons, said he's honored to have his name on 'one of the most powerful peacemaking devices on earth.'
Jimmy Carter is the first of the American Seahare-class subs, featuring a high-tech sonar system which alerts enemy forces to its presence and a safety device on the Nerf missiles which allows firing only after an enemy missile impact."
And GOP and the City adds: "When I first heard the Navy was naming an Attack Submarine after former president Jimmy Carter, I had to laugh. First, it's ironic that Carter is bering honored with a Cold War era platform that has little relevance in today's Navy, while Ronald Regan [sic in original] was given a Nuclear Aircraft Carrier which will be an active and crucial part of our military for the next 50 years?"
UPDATE [2/16/2005 - 13:31] Frank J. has a creative contribution as well—made me chuckle a few times at least, though it is pretty strange at points.
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
WaPo (via Political Wire) has an AP article quoting former presidential hopeful John Kerry as saying >: "Americans accepted that I could be the commander in chief. What they were unwilling to do was shift commanders in midstream."
Rough translation? 'Americans realized it was possible that I might end up in the oval office, and decided that they didn't want me.' Well, John, isn't that what an election always says? And if you're trying to imply that Americans decided you were qualified, I'm not so sure.
Some good news in American politics?
It seems that there is some hope still left for us. According to a piece by David Brooks, politics may be stopping at the water's edge, despite all rhetoric to the contrary. In explaining what he would say to a group of marines he met as they returned from Iraq, he says:
The first thing I'd tell these marines is that when these politicians went abroad to represent the U.S., they didn't take their squabbles with them. There were Democrats and Republicans in this delegation, but you couldn't tell who was who by listening to their speeches.I still wish they'd show this a little more when they are on American soil, particularly on the floor of the Senate, but this is still a positive sign.
Instead, what you heard were pretty specific, productive suggestions on winning the war against Islamist extremism. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham lobbied for ways to use NATO troops to protect a larger U.N. presence in Iraq. Democratic Representative Jane Harman was pushing the Europeans to classify Hezbollah as a terrorist group.
Hillary Clinton suggested ways to strengthen the U.N., while also blasting its absurdities. Clinton affirmed that the U.S. preferred to work within the U.N., but she toughened her speech with ad-libs, warning, "Sometimes we have to act with few or no allies."
The second thing I'd tell them is that the politicians were willing to talk bluntly to the tyrants. McCain sat on a panel with officials from Russia, Egypt and Iran. He began his talk with suggestions on how to use NATO troops in the Middle East. Then it was time for a little straight talk. He ripped the Egyptians for arresting opposition leaders.(The Egyptian foreign minister held his brow, as if in grief.) He condemned the Iranians for supporting terror. (The Iranian hunched over like someone in a hailstorm.) He criticized Russia for embracing electoral fraud in Ukraine. In the land of the summiteers, this was in-your-face behavior.
Maybe he was right?
You may remember a few weeks back when a certain president of a small, insignificant Ivy League school outside of Boston suggested—as one of many possible explanations—that women might be less inclined to scientific fields because of innate differences. Well, today CNN.com is reporting on the work of scientist Michael Gurian:
He believes there are about a hundred structural differences that have been identified between the male and female brain.As Summers has said repeatedly, this is not to say that women cannot succeed in the sciences. The point is that there is a reason more do not, or choose not to, and physiological differences could play some role in that.
"Men, because we tend to compartmentalize our communication into a smaller part of the brain, we tend to be better at getting right to the issue," he said [...]
Scientists say males have more activity in mechanical centers of the brain, whereas females show more activity in verbal and emotional centers.
The differences can be noticed from early childhood, Gurian said, such as when an adult gives a child a doll.
"That doll becomes life-like to that girl, but you give it to a two-year-old boy and you are more likely, not all the time, but you are more likely than not to see that boy try to take the head off the doll," he said.
"He thinks spatial-mechanical. He's using the doll as an object".
Oh, and for those of you getting ready to claim that the boy pulls the head off the doll because he has already been exposed to societal pressures that inspire such behavior, keep reading:
To find out why these differences exist, scientists have taken voyages deep inside the gray matter using MRI scans.The article goes on to point out that this leads to a man's ability to create one more stomach enzyme than women. In fact, it aids in degrading alcohol and helps explain why it takes more to get a man drunk.
The scans show that in most women, the corpus callosum area, which handles communication between the brain's two "hemispheres," is larger.
In layman's terms, it means that the two sides of the female brain "talk" better to each other -- which could explain why studies show women tend to multi-task better.
On the other hand, the scans show men tend to move information more easily within each hemisphere.
It all boils down to genes, according to Dr. Marianne Legato Partnership for Gender Specific Medicine Columbia University.
Women are born with two X chromosomes, and men with an X and a Y.
"And on that Y chromosome are at least 21 unique genes unique to males which control many of the body's operations down to the level of the cells," Dr Legato said.
Try chalking that one up to society.
Monday, February 14, 2005
Sunday, February 13, 2005
What we've seen
Michael Barone is a smart guy—perhaps the smartest political commentator around. Here he offers his take on the effects the blogosphere has had on the political process, rightly concluding: "So what hath the blogosphere wrought? The left blogosphere has moved the Democrats off to the left, and the right blogosphere has undermined the credibility of the Republicans' adversaries in Old Media. Both changes help Bush and the Republicans."
It's worth reading the whole thing, which is fairly short. He looks specifically at left versus right as it appears online, focusing on the separate appeals of DailyKos versus InstaPundit. His analysis is spot on, and I speak as one who regularly visits both blogs (if you consider DailyKos a blog, which I do not necessarily). The left blogosphere is completely certain of its rightness, completely sure that anyone who voted for Bush is either evil or an idiot. The right blogosphere supported Bush, but by-in-large has other candidates in mind that it would prefer.
The end result is that Bush won because he's better than the alternative was at the time, while Kerry lost because his supporters were stuck on the anybody but Bush meme. It's much easier to build the strength of a party when you've got an understanding of what you stant for, than to build one based on what you stand against.
I don't know if all that made sense, as I'm still a bit delirious from this flu, but I'll try and revisit this idea later in the week with a bit more clarity. Remind me if I forget.