Friday, 18 June 2004

This Is Punishment

Robert Prather is retiring from the blog scene, due to him having a pretty full plate and losing the will to blog. Hopefully the blogging bug will bite again in the near future; if not, he’s certainly had a good run and most assuredly will be missed.


Thanks to Mark Turnage, I’ve got a Gmail account now (sorry, they haven’t given me any invites yet…).

Just for kicks, I’ve added a procmail rule that forwards a copy of all my email (except detected viruses) to my Gmail account, and it seems to cope pretty well with spam--almost as well as my SpamAssassin 3.0 config does (thus I strongly suspect Gmail uses SpamAssassin under the hood). Overall it seems to be a pretty capable email tool, and I’ll probably use it quite a bit when I’m away from home, although I find non-graphical clients (like mutt) more efficient for day-to-day use, and the lack of true folders takes some getting used to.

By the way, for a more comprehensive look at Gmail, see Eric Janssen’s review at Plug In.

Evidence of media bias

Steve Verdon links a working paper (an updated version of which will be presented at APSA in September) by political scientists Tim Groseclose and Jeff Milyo that attempts to quantify the partisan leanings of various media outlets on the basis of their reliance on think tanks for “neutral” information in straight-news stories. Estimated ADA scores for the think tanks are derived from their citations by politicians in the Congressional Record, which are then used to estimate ADA scores for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, the Drudge Report, Fox News’ Special Report, and the three broadcast network evening newscasts.

I’ve only skimmed the paper so far, but this seems like a fairly sound approach to the problem. As for the results… well, unless your name is Eric Alterman, I doubt you’ll be very surprised.

Cruisin' the Bash

I’ve been remiss in not thanking Mike Hollihan of Half-Bakered for assembling the second successful Memphis Area Blogger’s Bash. While turnout was slightly lower than the last meet, some new folks turned out, which more than compensated for the slight decrease in attendance:

  • The thoughtful AlphaPatriot, who somewhat reminds me of a younger version of Ole Miss criminal justice prof Chester Quarles.
  • The lovely and intelligent Rachel in the City, who has some ill-defined off-camera job at WMC Channel 5.
  • The vivacious Peggy Phillip, news director of WMC Channel 5.
  • Birthday boy Mark Richens of The Memphis Scene.

Also present were Eric of the CA web team, WebRaw and Plug In (among other stops in his blogging empire), Len Cleavelin, Mr. Mike, and (briefly, as his D&D group was meeting Wednesday night too) Brock.

It was fun to see everyone out; it almost—but not quite (after all, I need to make enough money to eat)—makes me wish I wasn’t off to Jackson for the next year or so. I guess the social scientist in me was on display; Mike says I was “laid-back and watchful again.” I guess since my “day job” is to be the expert, I generally find it more pleasant to watch and observe than to be the center of attention.

More reviews: Len, Mike, Peggy, Rachel, and Eric.

Should I be available for the next bash, I second the suggestion that we should try to blog the next event in progress; Eric suggests Cafe Francisco in the Pinch.

My head hurts

I know I’m a fan of Condorcet voting, but this is a ridiculously confusing vote, even by Debian standards.

I guess I’ll vote 2145376, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out how to explain 2145376 to anyone else on the planet.

Tit for tat

As expected, Paul Johnson just became the latest victim in the “terrorism by beheading” campaign operated by al-Qaeda.

Reaction: Moe Lane said it best. As far as I’m concerned, the Saudi government’s response should be to immediately execute every single person whose release was demanded by the terrorists. My moral qualms about such a policy in general (I would actively oppose the U.S. engaging in such a policy, for example) don’t extend to actions by the Saudi regime, who routinely show less mercy to Saudis, guest workers, and western ex-pats accused of dubious crimes under their rule. We already know the Saudis have zero respect for human rights; such a policy seems like an excellent complement to a-Qaeda’s policy of zero respect for human life.

Saddamed if you do

Both Alex Knapp and James Joyner (writing at Tech Central Station, so feel free to dismiss accordingly) think the 9/11 commission’s standard of proof for al-Qaeda involvement in, well, anything might be just a tad too high.

As for Saddam himself:

Saddam’s government was never the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism. Iran and Saudi Arabia far outstripped him in that regard. Nonetheless, the fact that Saddam Hussein actively supported Islamic terrorists has been an article of faith since the Carter Administration. Indeed, Iraq was one of the original five states (along with Iran, Libya, Syria, and Cuba) on the original “Patterns of Global Terrorism” list compiled by the State Department in 1979. Saddam was a major sponsor of various terrorist groups, including the PLO, Hamas, and the Abu Nidal Organization.

Read the whole things.