Shooting in Tal Afar

by Kieran Healy on February 1, 2005

Somehow I missed “this appalling sequence of photographs”: of a shooting in Iraq a few days ago, probably because they were running in newspapers outside the U.S. on inauguration day. I want to know whether any of them — especially “this one”: — ran anywhere in the U.S. media?

Look, I know I’m asking for trouble. I don’t want the comments to degenerate into angry whataboutery. All kinds of terrible things happen — purposely and by accident — in war zones. These photos are just awful. That’s all.

Die Spammers Die

by Kieran Healy on February 1, 2005

We’re dealing with a flood of trackback spam this morning. Sorry for even more inconvenience than usual. We will get around to upgrading eventually, even though my past self wisely tells me “not to”:

Inside Higher Ed

by Henry Farrell on February 1, 2005

I’m very excited about the launch of “Inside Higher Ed”:, a new web-based publication with “news, opinion and career advice and services for all of higher education.” This is, of course, not entirely dissimilar from what the “Chronicle of Higher Education”: has been offering for many years, but there are some very important differences. The Chronicle has some great writers, but it’s primarily a print-based publication, and it shows. Most of the interesting web content is only available to subscribers. This is highly frustrating for bloggers, who don’t, as a rule, like to link to articles that most of their readers can’t access. Individuals within the _Chronicle_ are pretty understanding about this, but there is only so much that they can do. _IHE_ is beginning from a very different model, one which I think is much better designed to capitalize on the explosion of web-based discussion over the last three years. All their content is going to be free, which means that bloggers can link to their stories without a second thought. Furthermore, they’re deliberately seeking to integrate _IHE_ into the debates that are happening among blogs, highlighting and picking up on the more interesting discussions. They’ll also have a jobs service (which will be the bread-and-butter of the website), and a weekly email digest.

In short, I reckon that _IHE_ is going to be an extremely valuable resource for bloggers and non-blogging academics. It will provide the kinds of reporting and detailed analysis that bloggers themselves aren’t much good at. It’s worth noting that the people behind _IHE_ include Scott Jaschik, who was editor of the _Chronicle_ during its glory days, Doug Lederman, who has done some superb academic reporting and editing at the _Chronicle_ and elsewhere, and “Scott McLemee”:, who will be their ‘Essayist-at-Large.’ Scott McL has his first “column”: up today, where he describes the blogosphere as

bq. that agonistic realm routinely combining the best qualities of the academic seminar with the worst traits of talk radio

With any luck, _IHE_ will mean less talk radio, and more grounded discussion. As I’ve said, I’m excited.

When it was neither profitable nor popular

by John Q on February 1, 2005

As noted in previous posts, there has been a lot of triumphalism among pro-war bloggers about the success of the elections in Iraq and, even allowing for a low turnout in Sunni areas and the difficulties that lie ahead, it’s certainly the best news we’ve had for some time. But I’d be interested to know how many of these bloggers supported democratic elections a year ago, when Bremer was pushing a bizarre system of regional caucuses? A limited Google search found sympathy for Bremer’s plan from Belgravia Dispatch , den Beste and Winds of Change, but I couldn’t locate any premature democrats in the pro-war blogosphere. However, the collaborative power of blogreaders is better than Google, so I invite links. Ideally, I’d like examples of prowar bloggers rejecting Bremer’s plan and supporting Sistani’s call for elections. I’m happy to concede that anyone in this class is entitled to a bit of triumph today.

Update A better Google search “bremer sistani elections support blog” finds this from The Brothers Judd and this from Norm Geras. I’m not surprised to find Geras, whose support for the war has been based on more defensible arguments than most. I don’t know much about the Brothers Judd but they go up in my estimation for this. Still the general pattern is pretty clear. Most of those who are now crowing about the elections backed Bremer’s attempts to block them, while those who supported elections all along are mostly found among opponents of the war.

Internet Liberal Bloggers

by Henry Farrell on February 1, 2005

Crooked Timber aren’t the only lefties to be attacked for failing to celebrate the Iraqi elections before the sun hit the yardarm yesterday morning. Intrepid sleuth-columnist, “Justin Darr”:, of Renew America, is on the case. He outs “Stephen Bainbridge”:, that notorious “radical”: and bête-noir of the “Republican establishment”:, and Stephen Green, the saturnine Svengali behind Bolshevik agitprop collective “Vodkapundit”:, as undercover members of the “Let’s Pretend It Didn’t Happen Faction” of the allied Internet Liberal Bloggers of America.

bq. a group who broke with the traditional liberal habit of talking endlessly about anything so long as it can be twisted into a childish penis reference about Vice President Cheney, and said nothing.

Still, Mr. Darr is more charitable than Ms. Malkin – he acknowledges that there may be an innocent explanation for the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy’s failure to blog on Iraq by lunchtime.

bq. Perhaps it was unfair of me to look into their sites on Sunday afternoon when so many liberals are just beginning emerge from the drug induced haze of their traditional weekend medicinal marijuana benders.

Listening to the Silence

by Kieran Healy on February 1, 2005

I suppose I should have expected the likes of “Michelle Malkin”: to treat the Iraqi elections as an opportunity to take a pot shot at “the Left.” As you know, we on The LeftTM are all for for more death and suffering in Iraq because it improves our case for universal health care and better prescription drug coverage. Like an excited kid on Christmas morning, Malkin wasn’t able to wait all day. She restrained herself till lunchtime (U.S. east coast time) on Sunday before indicting us along with a few other blogs: “Left goes into Hibernation”, “Crooked Timber is Silent on the Iraqi Elections“. “Silent”:, “silent”:, “silent”: You can practically hear the wind whistling through the trees around here. An excerpt from our non-existent commentary on the election appears on the Op-Ed page of Tuesday’s Dallas Morning News1, presumably as a big ole chunk of white space. I suppose we were hibernating, really, as long as you think “Hibernation” means “Doing some other things on Sunday (in our own time zones) before catching up on the news.”

fn1. Irritatingly detailed registration required. Try “bugmenot”:

Student blogs

by Eszter Hargittai on February 1, 2005

A while back I posted about my plans to teach a class in which each student would be required to maintain his or her own blog. We are now halfway through the quarter (really) and so I thought it would be a good time to get some outside readers to take a look at the students’ blogs. If you happen to have a moment and wouldn’t mind surfing over I am sure the students would be delighted to get some comments from people not enrolled in class. has a link to each of the blogs in the right-hand menu.

As you will see, the quality of student posts differs quite a bit. This is not particularly surprising since one can expect some level of variation in the work of students for most classes. To give a bit of background on the content of the blog entries, students are required to post to their blogs each week discussing at least two of the reading assignments covered that week. Students can use their blogs to post other material as well. They are also required to post a comment on a peer’s blog each week. The syllabus also includes some additional blogging assignments (finding and discussing various online content).

Judging from midterm feedback, it sounds like most students are enjoying the blogging experience although some find commenting on others’ blogs a bit tedious. At the same time others find it disappointing that they are not getting more feedback so it’s hard to satisfy everyone. Having students blog about the readings is certainly helpful for an understanding of how they are processing the material. Their blog entries have guided discussion in several class sessions.

I’ve learned a lot from this experience and plan to write up a detailed description of the course logistics later. For now, feel free to take a look at how the student blogging is going by visiting some of their sites.

High-School Autocrats

by Kieran Healy on February 1, 2005

“This report”: of a survey of more than 110,000 (!) students at 544 high schools has been getting a lot of play. The survey found that one in three high schoolers think the First Amendment “goes too far”; that three quarters believe that flag-burning is illegal; and that 36% of them thought newspapers should get “government approval” before publishing stories in the newspaper.

The White House issued a statement congratulating American students not just for their views on constitutional law, but also for their “accurate characterization of the relationship between the Executive branch and the White House Press Corps.”

OK, I just made that up about the White House. But the study is real. Further reading of the “full report”: reveals the usual smorgasbord of opinion that surveys like this typically bring out. For instance, substantially more teenagers believe that “musicians should be allowed to sing songs with lyrics others may find offensive” than believe that “newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories.” Even better, whereas only 49 percent thought that newspapers should be able to report without government approval, 58 percent said that _school_ newspapers should be able to report controversial issues without the approval of school authorities. I guess it all depends on who you think The Man is — the Prez or the Principal.