Real Politic

by Maria on July 15, 2003

Howard Dean’s guest spot on Lawrence Lessig’s blog has gotten off to a slow-ish start. Today’s post was pretty waffly campaign-speak and didn’t seem to answer any of the almost 200 questions posed yesterday. Fair enough, as Dean says he can’t get to every question, but I hope as the week continues he’ll get more of a feel for the give and take of blogging. I scanned today’s and yesterday’s comments and didn’t see responses from Dean amongst them, but there was one from his campaign manager, Joe Trippi, asking for some input to speed up their learning process. Perhaps a little unreasonably, Lessig’s readership were expecting a much more detailed treatment of IP and copyright issues. Myself, I’d just assumed this was a free for all for whatever issues the commenters posed. Anyway, as one of the comments pointed out, the very least this exercise has done is bring many Dean supporters to Lessig’s site where they’ll pick up a lot about the IP and copyright protection debate.

But if you’re after politicians who’ve already crested the blogging learning curve, Westminster is where you need to be. Huge thanks to Mick Fealty over at Slugger O’Toole for his account of an informal meeting about political blogging in the UK. Top of the class is Lib Dem Richard Allan. I’ve been following his blog for a while and, insofar as anyone actually does, he really gets it. He’s come up with an ‘adopt an MP’ idea for getting more MPs into blogging, and is the only person I can think of who could have made a genuinely amusing pun out of the phrase ‘peer to peer networking’. I’m with Mick Fealty, though, in wondering who and when will be the first Irish politician blogger. Probably a Sinn Fein-er. They’ve been several steps ahead on the communications front for a long old time.

Oh, one for the Irish readership. Lessig’s commenters had a long discussion yesterday about the whole FCC and alternative channels of media issue. It got me thinking of the old days of RTE a h-aon agus RTE a do. I think people of Henry’s and my generation are about the last cohort to refer to changing the tv channel as ‘turning it to the other side’.

Pokemon Prove Evolutionism Is False

by Henry Farrell on July 15, 2003

“Ezra Klein”: has come across a rather wonderful site, detailing the “Fellowship Baptist Creation Science Fair”:, in which kids do “science” projects to “prove” the truth of Creationism. I feel a little guilty linking to this – I’m sneering, basically – but how could you NOT sneer a little. It outdoes _The Onion_. I do feel a little sorry for the kids though.

Ezra quotes the most offensive science project, which seeks to show that women are designed by God for homemaking, but there’s plenty more goodness where that came from. Some personal favorites.

Update – oops. Looks like this one is a phony. It’s a pretty good one though. Guess it says something about my gullibility when it comes to extreme Bible-thumping lunacy – I have difficulty in telling the real stuff from the fake.

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Billy Bloggs dead; moped for sale

by Daniel on July 15, 2003

It came to my attention that Condoleeza Rice is attempting to explain to us that 16 words of outright falsehood isn’t really all that much in the context of a two hour speech, not all of which has yet been proved to be untrue. How wonderful; I never realised before that she had much of a sense of humour. I have never been a great fan of this kind of reasoning, ever since an unscrupulous waiter once convinced me (I was young and drunk) that one obviously putrid, blackish-green prawn wasn’t really all that much in the context of a very generous paella. Three bloody days on the pot I was because of that one.

Anyway, it gave me an idea for a competition; how much can you say, how grandiose and extraordinary a claim can you make, in 16 words? “Let there be light” is only four, so I’m guessing that things could get pretty extreme. “Let there be light and I did not have sex with that woman Miss Lewinsky” is fifteen words, and fits the spirit of the joke whose punchline forms my title above.

In terms of a blanket condemnation of as many things as possible, I’m going for “The set of all sets of sets of sets of sets of cardinality aleph(1) is evil” as my entry; if anyone thinks that they can better it, have at ye. I might award prizes, but most likely only the glory.

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Krugman’s back

by Henry Farrell on July 15, 2003

And “on top form”:

bq. More than half of the U.S. Army’s combat strength is now bogged down in Iraq, which didn’t have significant weapons of mass destruction and wasn’t supporting Al Qaeda. We have lost all credibility with allies who might have provided meaningful support; Tony Blair is still with us, but has lost the trust of his public. All this puts us in a very weak position for dealing with real threats. Did I mention that North Korea has been extracting fissionable material from its fuel rods? How did we get into this mess? The case of the bogus uranium purchases wasn’t an isolated instance. It was part of a broad pattern of politicized, corrupted intelligence.

Check out Nicholas Kristof’s “piece”: for extra _schadenfreude_, if _schadenfreude_ is your thing; mine is weary disgust.

bq. Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group of retired spooks, issued an open letter to President Bush yesterday reflecting the view of many in the intel community that the central culprit is Vice President Dick Cheney. The open letter called for Mr. Cheney’s resignation.