In TDS news

by Eszter Hargittai on October 3, 2004

There are always comments on The Daily Show that I want to blog, but then never get around to doing so. I did want to make sure to mention this one though, from last Wednesday (Sept 29), since it’s blog related. Jon Stewart was talking to Ed Helms about the next day’s presidential debates. Helms read out the notes he would be using to report on the debates, that is, he had already written them up a day before the debates.

Stewart: “What if any actual news happens?”
Helms: “That’s what bloggers are for.”

A propos TDS, America (The Book) is absolutely hilarious! I highly recommend it. I didn’t realize it was written in the form of a textbook. It’s got lots of little inserts, quotes on the sidebar and illustrations like most American textbooks good for those with attention problems. Not that you’ll have any such problems while reading this book (unless you’re trying to multitask and do something else at the same time in which case the other activity will get none of your attention). I don’t know if reading anything has ever made me laugh out loud as much as reading this book has.

He’s Baaack! And He’s Shrillllll!

by Kieran Healy on October 3, 2004

“Tom Friedman returns”:http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/03/opinion/03friedman.html?oref=login in his new guise as Chief Assistant to the Assistant Chief Sassanian Senmurv’s Sub-Deaconry Baldachin Polisher in the Noble, Ancient and Hermetic Order of the Shrill:

bq. Sorry, I’ve been away writing a book. I’m back, so let’s get right down to business: We’re in trouble in Iraq. I don’t know what is salvageable there anymore. … This war has been hugely mismanaged by this administration, in the face of clear advice to the contrary at every stage, and as a result the range of decent outcomes in Iraq has been narrowed and the tools we have to bring even those about are more limited than ever. … For all of President Bush’s vaunted talk about being consistent and resolute, the fact is he never established U.S. authority in Iraq. Never. This has been the source of all our troubles. We have never controlled all the borders, we have never even consistently controlled the road from Baghdad airport into town, because we never had enough troops to do it. … Because each time the Bush team had to choose between doing the right thing in the war on terrorism or siding with its political base and ideology, it chose its base and ideology. More troops or radically lower taxes? Lower taxes. Fire an evangelical Christian U.S. general who smears Islam in a speech while wearing the uniform of the U.S. Army or not fire him so as not to anger the Christian right? Don’t fire him. Apologize to the U.N. for not finding the W.M.D., and then make the case for why our allies should still join us in Iraq to establish a decent government there? Don’t apologize – for anything – because Karl Rove says the “base” won’t like it. Impose a “Patriot Tax” of 50 cents a gallon on gasoline to help pay for the war, shrink the deficit and reduce the amount of oil we consume so we send less money to Saudi Arabia? Never. Just tell Americans to go on guzzling. Fire the secretary of defense for the abuses at Abu Ghraib, to show the world how seriously we take this outrage – or do nothing? Do nothing. Firing Mr. Rumsfeld might upset conservatives. Listen to the C.I.A.? Only when it can confirm your ideology. When it disagrees – impugn it or ignore it.

Whew! Did ole “Airmiles”:https://www.crookedtimber.org/archives/001614.html finally run into “Daniel”:https://www.crookedtimber.org/archives/001153.html in a 1st Class Transit Lounge somewhere? Perhaps Tom is realizing that, thanks to the Bush Administration, he may get the “twenty year occupation”:http://bodyandsoul.blogspot.com/2003_02_01_bodyandsoul_archive.html#88706640 he told _Oprah_ viewers to gear up for last year.

IgNobels

by Chris Bertram on October 3, 2004

Chris Brooke has “an entertaining discussion of this year’s IgNobel prize for Medicine”:http://users.ox.ac.uk/~magd1368/weblog/2004_10_01_archive.html#109670769406562944 (“Effects of Country Music on Suicide”). A perusal of “all the winners over the years”:http://www.improb.com/ig/ig-pastwinners.html reveals some really good stuff. It turns out that the 1999 prize for physics was shared between Len Fisher — a former student of mine — who calculated the optimal way to dunk a biscuit and Professor Jean-Marc Vanden-Broeck of the University of East Anglia who worked out how to make a teapot spout that doesn’t drip. I know I’m risking the ire of at least two of my CT colleagues here, but I can’t help having the thought that Vanden-Broeck’s researches potentially represent a greater contribution to human happiness than those of the majority of winners of the real Nobel prize for economics.

Blog awareness

by John Quiggin on October 3, 2004

While I was thinking about the role of blogs, I came across an observation (which I can’t locate again), that many Internet users may read blogs from time to time but don’t distinguish them from other kinds of websites. This was certainly true for me – it was only after I started blogging that I realised that kausfiles and Brad DeLong’s Semi Daily Journal, which I had visited quite a few times, were blogs and (at least in Brad’s case) part of a much larger blogosphere.

The experience of reading these sites is different for me as a result. I wonder if others have had similar experiences? And I’d be interested to hear about the relationship, if any, between the way in which people find their way around the Internet and the way that they use and interpret the sites they visit. For example, does a site reached through a portal appear different from the same site found through Google? I imagine Eszter will have something to say about this.

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