Friday, September 30, 2005

Message in a Bottle

This is absolutely the best pictorial summary of the past week (or month, or year, or five years):

Brilliant Artwork by 2 Political Junkies.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 7:11 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Intelligent Design Creationism today

The Dover Trial is in full swing. Chris Mooney is on the scene and reports on his blog (as well as on NPR's Science Friday earlier today). Evolutionblog is covering the trial with about five posts per second, so you have to read fast!

There is also an online anti-ID petition that you may want to sign if you are a scientist. The Discovery Institute managed to collect 400 signatures in four years. This site is trying to see how many signatures they can get in four days, and, after several hours, there were about 1600 signatures there.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 2:55 PM | permalink | (1 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

The Carnival of Creepy Crawlies

The inaugural edition of the Circus of the Spineless is now up on Milkriverblog and it is absolutely amazing - about 50 entries! Everything you always wanted to know about invertebrates is there, plus some exciting photos!

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 11:04 AM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Link-Love: In the Neighborhood

Here's some recent North Carolina blogging for you:

JustAskJudy has a Remarkable Obituary.

This is old, but good, if you have not seen it before. On Indiscretions: Natasha From Russia.

Gate City is sometimes serious enough to write stuff like this, about the wisdom of having the military be the first responder. Mostly though, the audience is from Germany, attracted to the blog by their Google searches of the phrase, sprinkled liberally throughout the blog "Nikki Cox - Best Actress of her generation", sometimes accompanied by a picture. I have no idea if she is the best actress, or even a semi-decent actress. No matter how many times I saw her on TV I somehow could not focus on evaluating her acting skills....

So, what is killing marriage? Everything you want to know, even if you did not know you wanted to know, about marriage and divorce, especially the legal aspects, you can find on Kramer Vs.

Trixie Update is still running. Trixie is more than two years old, and the only telemetry still going on is sleep-wake cycle. You can still access all the old statistics on diaper-changes, formula-bottles and other stuff - very interesting for parents and future parents. I hope they do the same with their next child!!!!

Tony Plutonium had a weak moment! Never waver!

A great photo of a lilly at Lalitree.

The Crazy Hippie Cat Lady is a new NC blog by Vada.

Dent is the official blog of the excellent local free newspaper "The Independent".

Our World, Our View is a blog aimed at young adults.

Lenslinger takes a look ahead.

Words (of this Yovo) reports on the shrinking shark.

Aesop's Fables for the modern age (one of many Billy's blogs).

How early is too early to read the death scene in Charlotte's Web to your child?

See if your licence plate number is on this blog and if so, for what infringement of polite driving.

Hurricane's Eye is the place where everything is calm.

Josh and Jamie are Too Clever By Half

Reason And Radical on the today's youth and on appealing to the fearfull majority.

Warcrygirl is a self-confessed World's Worst Christian - go see why.

Lex has a good post on gore for porn phenomenon I wrote about before.

Zartan works at an "adult establishment" and reports on human nature.

Russlings describes some very unconventional ways to protect animals in zoos against hurricanes and some even more unconventional ways to protect animals in the wild from people.

The Point of Babette reviews prime time TV for you.

What Would Jesus The Clown Do, asks Anonymoses.

Anton is having a grand time.

BlogAds rule!

Bigwig continues his long-running series on birds of Iraq.

Pam's House Blend is your first stop if you want to know what is happening in Freeperland.

Who ordered the CNN orange windbreakers?

A funny cartoon and the tragedy of the commons on Pratie Place.

Ron wrote an homage to nurses.

Waterfall snapped at her student today.

First Year Teacher is now a Second Year Teacher.

Jay has some good advice about blogging responsibility.

This is too funny (especially considering the satellite-photo shape of Hurricane Rita as it squeezed between Florida and Cuba).

You can find many other NC bloggers at aggregator. You can find some additional ones on Rollerweblogger, Triad Blogs, on Greensboro 101 and on North State Blogs.

For examples of the best of NC blog writing, check out the local blog carnival - The Tar Heel Tavern. Erin, while being pregnant with the sixth child, writing poetry, and everything else, also collected the complete archives of the Tar Heel Tavern, and made the Tar Heel Tavern homepage prettier (with Carolina blue).

Next week is ConvergeSouth, a huge blogger conference in Greensboro, so you can meet some of the best of local, and not so local (Atrios anyone?) bloggers there. Check out the who's who of blogging expected to show up there.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 12:10 AM | permalink | (2 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Science And Politics Illustrated

This image was accompanying an article on Christian Science Monitor the other day. I was thinking for a while now to make an image with the White House and some scientific symbols to place as a banner on this blog. And now I see this - exactly what I was looking for.

Question 1: Is it ethical to swipe this image and make it "mine"?

Question 2: How do I put an image on the header? Perhaps, as the picture is vertical, I can shrink it somewhat and place it on the side-bar instead, above archives, PayPal button, etc. How do I do that?

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 9:35 PM | permalink | (5 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

It's time to extend a helping hand!

Shakespeare's Sister, one of my very most favouritest bloggers for almost a year now got a double-whammy today: the tax on her house doubled and she lost her job. So, go there right now and put a few bucks in the tip-jar for the fellow blogger!

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 3:32 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink


Democrats who voted Yes for Roberts:
Baucus, Mont.;
Bingaman, N.M.;
Byrd, W.Va.;
Carper, Del.;
Conrad, N.D.;
Dodd, Conn.;
Dorgan, N.D.;
Feingold, Wis.;
Johnson, S.D.;
Kohl, Wis.;
Landrieu, La.;
Leahy, Vt.;
Levin, Mich.;
Lieberman, Conn.;
Lincoln, Ark.;
Murray, Wash.;
Nelson, Fla.;
Nelson, Neb.;
Pryor, Ark.;
Rockefeller, W.Va.;
Salazar, Colo.;
Wyden, Ore.

What were they thinking? If Bush sees this many Dems rolling over for Roberts, he will be emboldened to nominate someone even worse for the O'Connor seat and no fillibaster can derail that confirmation. They need a collective chiropractor to set their spine!

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 1:06 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Skeptic's Circle

Wolverine Tom is hosting the latest edition of the Skeptic's Circle. Seeing is believing - so go there now.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 12:00 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Link-Love: Healthy Blogging

Chronicles of a Medical Mad House is back after a brief hiatus. Death is a pretty bad sideffect of a drug, I guess. And now I know why I always wanted to be an urologist (not!).

Dr.Charles recollects his busy day in the hospital on 9/11.

Mediblogopathy covered post-Katrina nurse volunteers, gives out a monthly nursing blog award and has collected the largest blogroll of nursing blogs ever.

Mental Nurse writes a job description.

I've seen this happen to me - someone copies and pastes my entire posts - ALL of my posts - on their blog. I ignored it, as there was always a link in the end. Now, Shrinkette makes me worried about it.

Should med school make you depressed? Over My Med Body does not think so.

Drunken Lagomorph is a nurse who works in jail. Occasionaly, this means reading some inmates' worrisome letters, and sometimes it means laughing (along with the inmates) at the humorless wardens, and sometimes hearing some highly quotable stuff.

It's Time For Your Meds if you are Crazy Tracy, a North Carolina nurse working 12-hour shifts (just like my wife).

Emergiblog is also written by a 12-hour night-shift nurse. It is a pretty new blog but I am already addicted. I wait for a new post like some people wait for the next episode of their favourite TV show (or the next Harry Potter book). There is so much fun (and funny) stuff, and it is all beautifully written. How about a look at some very old advertisments for amphetamines, or K-Y Jelly, or Curad bandages. Each old ad, or book, or picture provokes an association and the words just flow....

There is trouble during a night on call at Blogborygmi.

Nurse: Superhero, Villain...or Vampire? Ask Nurse Rachett's Alter Ego (is this the same person who wrote a brilliant, yet now defunct blog, called Nurse Rachett's Notebook or something like that?).

Is repetition good or bad? That's the question of Living Large, a new arrival at the OR scene, but already joining the in crowd, or is she?

A very frustrating day in the life of a Head Nurse.

What does a neurologist carry in his black bag? Ask Greg P on Information Is Free.

And last but certainly not the least, Orac of Respectful Insolence is at his best when he destroys the alties.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 12:05 AM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Sand in the Tank

A lot has been written, particularly in the wake of Katrina, about the role of government and especially about the insidious habit of conservatives to undermine it from within, then use its shoddy inefficiency to blame the "government" and push to cut its funding.

And while I may sound wonky and whiny and others may sound too fiery, nobody matches the humorous eloquence of Lance Mannion. His most recent post on the topic of deliberate sabotage of the government by conservatives is just brilliant. I like especially the very end, a metaphor of the car:
If the Goverment is a car setting out to give every one a ride to work, then for 40 years the Republicans have been puncturing the tires, pouring sand in the gas tank, stealing the distributer cap, and, whenever they can get their hands on the wheel, driving it straight into the nearest ditch and then, pointing to the wreckage as the tow truck backs up to it, saying, See, this proves that people were meant to walk.

And they do this so that they don't have to chip in on gas.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 3:35 PM | permalink | (1 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Tom DeLay exterminated in a pest control raid

U.S. House Majority Leader DeLay Indicted by Texas Grand Jury

Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Representative Tom DeLay, the second-highest-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, was indicted by a Texas grand jury on a single count of criminal conspiracy, according to the grand jury clerk.

DeLay, 58, who faces up to two years in prison, will temporarily step aside as House majority leader, he said in a statement. House Speaker Dennis Hastert said he will recommend that Representative David Dreier of California to replace DeLay, the Associated Press reported.


posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 2:46 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

I And The Bird

The new edition of I And The Bird is up! Go Fly!

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 2:11 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Carnival of Education

Carnival of Education #34 is now up on Education Wonks. Go Learn!

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 12:46 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

The cycles of history

Since no newspaper wanted to publish this op-ed by Rick Perlstein, Atrios printed it on his blog. I guess this means it is fair game to disseminate further, so here is the whole text:

The Op-Ed Which Wasn't Run

A white friend who's volunteering in refugee shelters on the Gulf Coast tells me the kind of things he's hearing around the small city where he's working.

A pastor is obsessed that "local" women not be allowed near the shelters: "At a community meeting they said these were the last evacuees, the poorest of the poor"--the most criminal, being his implication, the most likely to rape.

My friend says: "There were rumors that there were basically gangs of blacks walking up and down the main drag in town harassing business owners." The current line is that "some of them weren't even evacuees, they were just fake evacuees trying to stir up trouble and riot, because we all know that's what they want to do."

He talked to local police, who report no problems: just lost, confused families, in desperate need of help.

Yet "one of the most ridiculous rumors that has gone around is that 'the Civic Center is nothing but inmates. It's where they put all the criminals.'"

I immediately got that uncanny feeling: where had I heard things like this before?

The answer is: in my historical research about racial tensions forty years ago. I'm writing a book against the backlash against liberalism and civil rights in the 1960s. One of the things I've studied is race riots. John Schmidhauser, a former congressman from rural Iowa, told me about the time, in the summer of 1966, he held a question and answer session with constituents. Violence had broken out in the Chicago ghetto, and one of the farmers asked his congressman about an insistent rumor:

"Are they going to come out here on motorcycles?"

It's a funny image, a farmer quaking at the vision of black looters invading the cornfields of Iowa. But it's also awfully serious. The key word here is "they." It's a fact of life: in times of social stress when solid information is scarce, rumors fill the vacuum. Rumors are evidence of panic. The rumors only fuel further panic. The result, especially when the rumors involved are racial, can be a deadly stew of paranoia.

In the chaotic riot in Detroit in 1967, National Guardsman hopped up on exaggerated rumors of cop killers would descend upon a block and shoot out the streetlights to hide themselves from snipers. Guardsmen on the next block would hear the shots and think they were under attack by snipers. They would shoot at anything that moved. That was how, in Detroit, dozens of innocent people were shot. In one case, a firefighter was the one who died.

And now, a similar paranoia has turned deadly in New Orleans too. The early report Sunday was that police shot at eight suspicious characters at the 17th Street Canal, killing five. On Monday the report was clarified: the victims were contractors on their way to work to fix the canal.

It's not that human beings haven't committed awful crimes amidst the toxic muck of New Orleans--just as they did in the urban riots of the 1960s. It's not as if the onslaught of poor, frightened, and alien-seeming evacuees aren't making life nerve-wracking in the many scattered towns where they are straggling in as refugees. With statistical certainly, they have.

But now New Orleans has filled with tens of thousands of Army, police, and National Guard soldiers. They are doing courageous, necessary work. But that are also operating in a cultural context rife with paranoia. Many of the people they are policing are armed as well--also possessed of a hair-trigger paranoia that might presume every shotgun-like crack, every snapped powerline, every detonated firecracker, is a sniper's shot aimed at them.

And now there is that New Orleans diaspora, poor black men ("fake evacuees"?) wandering around unfamiliar towns.

It is the job of all of us to help ratchet down the paranoia: not to let the rumors spread. So none of these people start firing on each other.

Paranoia is not the exclusive province of Iowa farmers forty years ago, or--urban snobs take note--Louisiana yokels in rural parishes now. In 1992, in New York City, during the Los Angeles riots, the word spread on certain street corners about rioters burning buildings and overturning cars just a few blocks away. All of it was fantasy.

But now, everyone with an email account can be implicated in the spreading of such fantasies--nationwide.

One of the most riveting early accounts of conditions in New Orleans was an email sent around by Dr. Greg Henderson. "We hear gunshots frequently," he wrote. It wasn't long before that got transformed, in the dissemination, into: doctors get shot at frequently. An Army Times article reported that desperate evacuees at the Superdome, terrified that losing their place in line might mean losing their life, "defecated where they stood." Now, it's easy, if you take a moment to think about it, to understand that happening to people, perhaps elderly and sick, under unendurable conditions of duress. As circulated on the Internet, however, another interpretation takes shape: these people are not like us. Them. Savages that, if they come to your town, might just be capable of anything. Even if they are just lost, confused people, in desperate need of help.

We can do better. We must do better.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 12:08 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Monday, September 26, 2005

Stop Roberts

From an e-mail:

"If you were listening to Thom Hartmann on his widely syndicated radio program
today, you know he was breathing fire in opposition to John Roberts. You also
know from your own experience that the primary toll-free telephone number for
Congress (877-762-8762) is mysteriously and suddenly out of commission with just
a fast circuit busy signal (try it yourself), even in the middle of the night.
Yes, Thom thought that was extremely odd also, especially with so many of us
calling to declare our strong opposition to John Roberts.

WHAT WE MUST NOW DO is create a permanent record of this situation and use that
to generate even more messages and phone calls to the Senate in the next 24
hours. If you are a member of any BLOGS go to ALL of them overnight and start a
new thread or article, and/or leave a comment on an existing one. In your own
words there are three simple key points we need to make in any order you like:

1) Whether we have in fact overloaded the primary toll-free number with our
calls or whether someone deliberately cut the line to slow down the calls, it is
in FACT down now.

2) There is a growing ground swell of opposition to the stealth reactionary
Roberts that can no longer be ignored.

3) To take action there are two alternative toll-free numbers still working,
888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588, plus an action page that will give you all the
direct phone and fax numbers of your own senators,

What we want to accomplish is to create as many entries on as many blog threads
as possible, to reach as many people as we can who wish they knew what to do to
stop this administration from scuttling our Supreme Court, but who just don't
where to start. Feel free to make your own arguments as to why Roberts must be
stopped, just as you do when you send your personal messages to your senators.
If you would like some additional ideas, this piece from OpEd News might be

Leahy, Feingold and Kohl have been excoriated on the blogs for their judiciary
committee votes, which even they admit were "close calls." All we have to do is
get one or two of them to heed the voice of the people and the MOMENTUM is on
our side. All they simply need to say is that they have been hearing from their
constituents, and while they may have been initially inclined to support
Roberts, they can no longer do so.

And you can also send your friends who want to know more about why Roberts must
be stopped to the one click congressional email and letter to the editor action
page, where there are many informative links, at

Take heart that we have achieved alot of radio visibility in the last couple
days. More and more people are starting the question why Roberts is being
hustled through the process without even a proper examination of what he really
stands for. Will it be enough? That is entirely up to us alone. First we must
BELIEVE we can win. After that the rest is easy.

We must reach out to our fellow citizens every way we can. Please take action
NOW, so we can win all victories that are supposed to be ours, and forward this
message to everyone else you know.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 11:33 PM | permalink | (1 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Link-Love: In the Classroom and Academia

Teaching math is not easy, but Profgrrrl enjoys it anyway.

The Education Wonks on teacher blogs, the best school system in the world and teaching Intelligent design creationism in schools.

If you read this you'll understand how Toliet Paper With Page Numbers got its name. Also, why academics generally do not make great leaders.

Tall, Dark and Mysterious. Who? Moebious Stripper, of course. On the same topic of academic's personality, as well as some positives about math teaching and using the F***ing graphing calculator.

Why do we sterilize our spaceships? Mr.B explains. I love the Bitch, PhD blog even more now that Mr.B (and some excellent guest-bloggers) are on board. That blog was always so much fun, but now it is triple fun! Aside from powerful posts on academia, feminism and sex, how can one resist cool posts about The Pseudonymous Kid?

Jerry Wilson of Getting Real (Over Coffee) is now a proud HDTV owner. On a more serious note, think of the US and Cuba as Hatfield and McCoy.

Steven D. Krause, on his official blog, on the state of the university. Also, The Happy Academic ponders not being on the job market and not being an administrator.

Jason Kuznicki of Positive Liberty went to a sneak preview of Serenity, while Jonathan Rowe gets serious about The Living Constitution.

Amy is back in school and loves the library.

Speaking of libraries, the best blogging is this, on Caveat Lector, who suggests that best librarian blogging is on Random Access Mazar. I report, you decide (which one is better).

La Profesora Abstrada on Independence of the Mexican Congress.

Steve Levitt and Steve Dubner, the authors of "Freakonomics", write a Freakonomics blog.

Yikes! Tenure dossier, a need to have a biopsy done, a cheating husband, and starting classes. How much more can Dr.HIstory take all at once?

Private schools are better. You think. Think again. What are YOUR favourite sci-fi TV shows? In other news, AssortedStuff is Campaigning for Intelligent Science in the Classroom.

Hugo Schwyzer teaches a Woman's History class, so there are always thoughtful and provocative posts about men, women, and hard work, or Young Women's Reflections on Sexuality and Domination, or fish and bicycles, or truly enjoying Christian Rock, or men's rights advocates alternatives to marriage.

The Alley Notebooks on domestic fantasies and a great trip to San Francisco.

Phantom Professor: I, Student and a quilt.

Gentleman's C is great fun to read. Here are some links if you are into figuring out your academic genealogy (I know mine: Underwood - Menaker - Pittendrigh - Dobzhansky - Chetverikov). The Angry Student passed a PhD defense (I'm gettin' there!). And even the nicest, smartest neighbors can be total morons when it comes to science.

From Acta Online, a disturbing survey of high-schoolers about what college is all about, on the Solomon Amendment (about army recruiters on campus) and on preponderance of girls in college.

Do video/computer gamers make better surgeons? Eide Neurolearning Blog has some data. Also, on The Different Ways We Read: The Movie in Your Head.

Eric Gordy (whose main blog is East Ethnia) is using blogging technology in the classroom. Check out his class blog Mediacourse.

Camicao is also using blogs in the classroom and links to others who do the same.

Dr.B is celebrating fourth blogiversary and also muses about using blogs in teaching.

Easily Distracted was distracted by the NYTimes article about female college students who want to become stay-at-home moms, especially with the blogosphere response to it. There was quite a lot of it, of course, and the actual questionnaire showed up somewhere (demonstrating how bad the survey was) and some of the students gave interviews (about how bad it was).

What information is important? asks Peter Levine. Also, an interesting proposal for rebuilding New Orleans.

Check out the Life as a Middle School Teacher, Learning Curves and Understanding sor some in-the-trenches classroom blogging.

Shadow Boxing and the urban-rural divide on One Stop Thought Shop.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 11:04 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Golf (err: Gulf) Coast BloggerCon

Lindsay Beyerstein did what many of us wish we could. She went down to New Orleans right after Katrina struck and reported/blogged from the scene, in a series of posts on her blog. She liked the experience so much, she decided to turn pro.

Now, she also wants to organize a Gulf Coast BloggerCon, and here is a copy of her post so you can see what she has in mind:
Blogging is a key component of the media coverage of the historic 2005 hurricane season.

The contributions are varied as the contributors: Citizen journalists are blogging storms from their own homes and shelters. A self-styled blogger/activist press corps has emerged. Mainstream news organizations are assigning reporters to blog. At least one paper, the New Orleans Times Picayune, reinvented itself as a blog during Katrina. Blogs all over the world are fundraising for disaster relief. Political bloggers are helping to shape the public discourse on the hurricanes and the reconstruction. And so on.

Hurricane season isn't over until November, and the reconstruction will take years. But I don't think it's too early to start thinking about ways to share what we've learned so far.

It would be great if we could organize some sort of Gulf Coast blogger convention in early 2006. There's so much to talk about. Here's a short list of topics that might be interesting fodder for discussion:

* The relationship between journalism and activism
* New partnerships between bloggers and the media, e.g. the Houston Chronicle's Stormwatcher's blog
* Online fundraising for disaster relief
* Technical tips for blogging in a disaster area: equipment, safety, logistics
* Access. What it is and how to get it. This discussion should focus not only on the institutional access enjoyed by the press, but also the unique access enjoyed by citizen journalists to members of their own community
* Blogging the reconstruction. How bloggers can help keep attention focused on the needs of the Gulf Coast in the years to come
Next week at Converge South I'll try to see what people there think about this idea. Sounds great to me. How about you?

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 8:47 PM | permalink | (2 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink


A wonderful article about ConvergeSouth blogging conference.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 8:53 AM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Link-Love: Philosophers and their ilk

Doctor Free-Ride of Adventures in Ethics and Science blog has had some good posts lately: What scientists know (or don't), Numbers don’t lie … unless they’re statistics and Anti-science chickens coming home to roost.

Related to that first post is this one, Everything you Read is Useless, by Mike Webb of Educated Insolence.

Who's Zaphod Beeblebrox? asks Brian Weatherson on Thoughts Arguments and Rants

Mormon Metaphysics continues reviewing Tomasello's book.

Check out Missing Shades of Grue and Phronesisaical for some excellent blogging.

For the Record is one of my favourite blogs and I wonder why I link to it so rarely! So here's the link and you go and explore.

The Little Professor on getting a job in academia, geeting a job in academia if you are a blogger and the right to photocopy.

Brandon of Siris wrote a list of Must-Read Science Fiction Novels. I think I'll write one of my own soon (my own list, not a novel!).

Leiter Reports had guest-bloggers from For The Record. Here's one post about socialized medicine, but all of their stuff was very good. Brian Leiter is back now, and you should make it a habit to visit his blog from time to time...

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 1:58 AM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

The Warriors

The other day I saw (on a blog, from an e-mail? Don't remember now...) this article about a porn website on which our soldiers in Iraq exchange gory photos of mutilated Iraqi bodies for a free subscription to porn. War Pornography was published on a news website I was not familiar with, so I posted the link in the comments to a couple of good liberal blogs, asking for the verification of the story.

The next day, Nation published a shorter story on the same topic: The Porn of War, which prompted Billmon to write an excellent post, Heart of Darkness, in which he links this phenomenon to the big question: Should we pull the troops out:

"Some withdrawal advocates simply want to see American soldiers taken out of harm's way, and are indifferent to Iraq's future, which they believe was never our business to begin with. Others are trying to fit the war into an ideological template they've cherished since Vietnam, in which the U.S. is always the imperialist aggressor and the insurgents are always the people's champions. Still others don't want to admit that a neo-colonial occupation could ever be the better alternative (or the least worst one, anyway) even for a fragmented Third World nation on the brink of civil war. Most, I suspect, are simply trying to find a path out of the swamp, and are picking and choosing the arguments that look like they might get us there without too many more deaths on our conscience."
(And on the topic if we should pull the troops out of Irq, ask the experts: Juan Cole says so. While initially I was of the mind that perhaps we could stabilize the country etc., the way BushCo behaved there quickly made me switch to the idea that we need to get the hell out of there).

Please go and read the whole long Billmon's post - it is worth your time.

The comments on Total Information Awareness in response to the story were also very interesting. This exchange, in particular, put forward something I've been thinking about for a long time now:

"Bottom line = That's war guys.

It's been observed by many combat veterans that the American 18 year old, when trained, armed and placed in combat, is as barbaric and as brutally savage as any 18 year old that rode with Ghengis Khan's hordes.

The trading of pictures is just another form of trophies of war behavior. Again, standard stuff down through the eons.

Liberals like to deny this reality by citing works like one discussed here a while back wherein the author (himself not a combat vet) attempts to prove that most troops won't engage the enemy with aimed fire and that killing is traumatic to most, etc, etc.

Conservatives don't face up by 1) denying that it ever happened 2) relying on their security in knowing that we are the good guys so what ever....

Both camps are wrong. War is brutal and it brings out the worst in all who participate (though it can also bring out the best in those who participate as well, regardless of side).

And those [who] participate generally adapt to the environment by becoming modern day savages.

Good on them. They're human.

A curse on the flag wavers and politicians who want to sell us the idea that we are different and that war is noble.

I'll agree that war is hell, and humans (especially young males) can be brutal. In the proper circumstances, almost all of us could become so. I'm not concerned by the gore, nor even at the display of trophies. Like you said, avedis, normal combat stuff.

My concern is that this graphic violence is so well accepted, encouraged, even celebrated by what appears to be a larger and larger part of our military and even civilian populations. Tens of thousands look at this site every day, and has anyone in the government or the military said anything against it? A small point, but it sure looks to me like the Geneva Conventions are being violated. As Billmon wrote, at what point does the "brutality mentality" needed to win in Iraq spill over to here at home? It's the occupier/occupied variation of an old theme, Lincoln expressed it, that slavery enslaves not just the slaves, but the slaveholders as well.

This is one more straw to add to our occupier's burden. At what point does the load become just too much? Transport yourself back to 2002 and the runup to the invasion. Would you have said at that time that all the "compromises" to our self-image that we've since seen would have been acceptable, or even possible? Or is the slowness of the descent hiding just how far down we've gone?

CW, I share your concerns. We are losing even the veneer of civility.

But then I don't even know what that means.

I came from a sub-culture where people sit around the country club in the evening, having a few drinks, and discussing - with an odd glee and pride - how they were going to screw someone out of their money.

I mean, is that civilized? But that's how business has been done in America - at the higher levels - since day one.

Since the 1960's our culture has been becoming more crass. This is due, I suppose, in large part to the proliferation of mass media as a huge business enterprise and the need to appeal to the masses, who - and pardon the snob in me - are crass.

Shakespear said that, "Men love not to hear of the sins they love to commit."

But the masses find such sins entertaining and they lack the formal upbringing that teaches that such sins should be kept hushed.

So I think all of that is an influence in creating the conditions and circumstances that concern us.

Also, I see the US as undergoing a transformation of conscience that resembles that of Germany circa 1935.

We are allowing the dark forces of the psyche to take the lead. I don't know why. I'm not sure anyone does, but the rightwing has recognized this shift and is riding it.

This thing has a momentum and a life of its own. I'm afraid it will have to live out its natural life span before the pendulum swings the other way; which it will, eventually.

I only pray that the destruction wrought by this zeitgeist will be reparable.


Now, don't get me started on the "bad apples" theory, as the rot has already quickly spread to the whole barrel of apples.

I'd rather take a look at some unspoken assumptions underlying all of the rhetoric - both on the Left and on the Right. Those hidden assumptions are also taboo topics: the myth that US soldiers are wonderful guys and the myth that the USA is the greatest country in the world. The two are connected to each other, of course, by a myth of American superiority. We went to Iraq (and many other places before) because the Iraqis could not help themselves - they are kids and they need adult help. What a load of bull! Why do we think we are any better or smarter than Iraqis?

But, before I launch into my tirade, I'd like you to right-click ("open in new window") on these links and take your time reading those articles before coming back here. It is worth your while, believe me:

Yugoslavia Sojourn

In the articles above, Michael Parenti describes, with sharp accuracy, what happened in Yugoslavia, and how this links to Iraq (Noam Chomsky, in his book "The New Military Humanism" explicitely explains how the intervention in the Balkans made attack on Iraq possible). I have some qualms with his description of Yugoslav economic system (he is a socialist, after all, so he has his axe to grind) as he ignores the economic reforms of 1990 - arguably the best year in the 1000-year history of the country, as well as the story of how the regional leaders (Milosevic, Tudjman and Izetbegovic) worked hard to undermine the reforms and thus undermine the authority of the federal government led by then Prime Minister Ante Markovic.

Also, I do not agree about his rosy descriptions of Milosevic. A very good friend of mine is a family friend of Milosevic, so I have it on good faith that he is actually quite a nice guy in person. But, even Molly Ivins admits that Bush is a nice guy in person. I have written before that the two are very similar to each other: each is way over his head, surrounded by yes-men and propped by some very shady characters. With these two caveats taken into account, Parenti's analysis is spot on.

The take-home message from Parenti's articles is the neccessity of every US Administration (Dem or Rep) to defend the myth that US-style political system - and even more importantly the US-style economic system (the winner-take-all "free-market" capitalism) - is the only viable system. Every country that pursues a different model and succeeds has to be demonized, then destroyed. Recent examples: Yugoslavia, Cuba, Iraq and - watch-out tin-foil-hatters - Venezuela.

The goals of US foreign policy are a) to open up rich markets for US megacompanies, b) to eliminate any examples of successful alternatives, and c) to keep Americans from revolting against the economic system that is designed to make rich richer and poor poorer. Attack on Yugoslavia served all three purposes. Attack on Iraq does the same. Afghanistan was done quickly and half-ass-edly because it did not do anything to further any of the three goals - it is just something that the US populace expected to be done in response to 9/11, so it was "done". North Korea is a disaster - a great example of an alternative system NOT working well - so attacking it would serve none of the three goals, either. That's why we are not attacking North Korea and never will.

The Myth of the Wonderful American Soldier

First of all - I do not want anyone to die. I don't want anyone to get killed in any war. Not even the worst of the worst scum on Earth deserves to be killed - life in prison is just fine. And yes, I support the troups by asking for full and immediate withdrawal from Iraq. But this is because they are fellow human beings, not because I think they are wonderful human beings.

I am speaking statistics here, but most of the soldiers are 18-year olds, from poor families, from poor little towns, from poor Red states. A person who is curious, open-minded and hungry for knowledge does not apply to join the military - he is more likely to apply to graduate school. A person who wants to help other people and make a difference in the world will not join the military - he is more likely to join the Peace Corps, get a job with Red Cross, volunteer at a local shelter, and get politically active. Joining the army is the last-ditch effort to escape poverty and misery of dying little towns and villages of America.

A regular soldier grew up in a little village, surrounded by neighborly bickering and gossip, getting zero education from the atrocious local public school, getting indoctrinated into quasi-Christianity in the local Baptist church, enjoying a good fist-fight every now and then, followed by a can of Miller Light, some dope, some greasy food and some porn. He is ready to join the military because he truly believes that soldiering is something heroic. He is more than happy to join an organization which, unlike the chaos of his home, is based on order, hierarchy, discipline and obedience. He does not need to drink Kool-Aid for political indoctrination - he, like Obelix, fell into a cauldron full of Kool-Aid when he was a baby and is thus irrevocably indoctrinated for life.

After growing up blowing up frogs, hanging cats and having sex with farm animals, slaughtering humans is no big deal. The darkies are animals, after all.

Now, not all soldiers are like this. But the smart guys tend to be seggregated. They rise through the ranks quickly and go to war when they are 28 years old, not 18. They do intelligence, or fly fighter jets, or play with fancy electronics back at the HQ. They are rare animals and too valuable to waste as cannon-fodder on the front lines of the battlefield. That is where the 18-year-olds go. And that is where they are all placed together to play-off of each other's insecurities and build each other's egos.

While commenters on LGF or Free Republic try to one-up each other who can slander the 'evil libruls' better, the soldiers have an entirely different game to play. Words are not enough. They have rifles and are supposed to use them. Machismo in-words-only is not enough. The "real men" prove themselves to their buddies by being as ruthless and merciless in their killing as possible. There's a reason why they post their pictures on the porn site, or why they posed for pictures at Abu-Ghraib - it builds their self-esteem and covers up for their fear and insecurity.

Also, don't forget the Stanford Prison Experiment. Even the nicest of the nicest are capable of atrocious cruelty. Yet, the young men and women on the battlefronts are even less socially conscious and are developmentally primed for such behavior to begin with. Also, don't forget how much trouble the veterans of previous wars had to get integrated back into the civilian society. You start out as half-animal, you go to war and become a complete animal, then are expected to come back and be a human again? That's tough even for the educated and sophisticated. Can you imagine how hard it is for those boys and girls fighting in Iraq right now?

I don't want to leave you with an impression that I am looking down my elitist nose (and I have a very big nose!) at these people. I do not think they are stupid. I see them as victims. They are growing up in a cruel society in which, due to poverty, religion, miseducation and bad childrearing practices, they remain emotionally and intellectually stunted. They grow up to be cruel, and work hard to perpetuate the cruel society. While some of them express their cruelty verbally (on Wingnut blogs, for instance), and very few express it financially, many have no choice but to express it physically - by joining the military and ending up in crelty competitions with their colleagues. I want to see a society in which all of the young people can grow up to fulfill their fullest potential - emotionally and intellectually. In such a society, the military would be a very different kind of organisation, too. It would be reformed from within, capitalizing on smarts instead of cruelty of the soldiers.

The Myth of the American Superiority

After the last November's elections, almost a year ago, I wrote a very long post about the Big Picture that the election results unveiled. I hope you'll go and read it (again). For the purposes of this post, however, let me just quote a tiny little bit out ot it that I think is relevant:

"Within months, perhaps a couple of years, we will not be:

#1 Military superpower. The world has now seen the limits of our military. We will be stuck in Iraq and Afghanistan, beaten by Iraqi partisans a little bit every day. Troops will be more and more doubting and demoralized (as they were in Vietnam towards the end). New conscripts will be there not because they thought enlisting was honorable, or because they hold a naive belief that a stint in the army "turns a boy into man", but due to economic conscription. Removal of Pell Grants and a horrible job situation leave the military as the ONLY option for many young people. The obvious impotence of our military will allow others to thumb their noses at us and go unpunished because we cannot do anything about it (perhaps the Serbs will reclaim "spite" by kicking out the Americans out of Kosovo now that they can see it is a tiger with no teeth). New alliances will be forged, the Russo-Chinese one being the most dangerous. We will not be considered the "only remaining superpower" any more. What is that going to do to our collective ego?

#1 Economic superpower. New Depression, world-record deficit, tanking of the dollar, sale of Federal IOUs by East-Asian countries, switch to Euro as an official currency of international trade, and formation of the European Market which is already bigger and richer than American, will together dethrone the USA from the Number One spot in economy of the World. Read the new books by Reid and Rifkin about the New Europe. They (and Japan and China) will dictate to us from now on, and not the reverse. What is that going to do to our collective ego?

#1 Technological superpower. What happened to the American ingenuity? The USA is slipping fast in its ranking in science and in technological innovation. We have been boasting of our "knowledge-based" economy, but soon we will not be Number One in this area any more, and the agriculture and manufacture are gone already. What are we going to do? Tourism? Who's gonna come? There will be nothing to offer the world that the world cannot invent, produce, and sell cheaper by themselves. What is that going to do to our collective ego?

#1 Moral superpower. That is already gone. An incipient totalitarian theocracy that acts like a bully abroad holds no moral sway over anyone. It will just take some time for the news to arrive to the Red states. We are the last to learn that we are now considered to be a Third-World country. What is that going to do to our collective ego?

Buckle up! The Bushies are about to destroy the core meaning of what it is to be an American. The "City on the Hill" will be gone. The "shining beacon of freedom" will be gone. The "greatest democracy in the world" will be a laughingstock. It is going to hurt."
I think I was right. In all four domains, we have sunk even lower.

Can you point out a single war that US waged on its own and it actually won (or not made up an excuse to leave before the "job is done") on a country larger than San Marino?

In WWI we sent, too late, our boys to die, with no arms and ammunition, in the French trenches.

In WWII, we were again too late, then spent our time in tangential theaters (Pacific and Africa), then, once the Europeans and Russian liberated themselves, paraded into Europe and proclaimed ourselves "liberators".

We had to leave Korea. We had to leave Vietnam. We had to leave Somalia. We had to leave Serbia. We had to leave Iraq - now twice. Taliban is recuperating in Afghanistan. Osama is nowhere to be found. Haiti is in disrepair. When was the last time we went somewhere, won the war decisively, and left the country in better shape than it was before our attack? So, where does the myth of our military superiority come from? From the A-bomb, of course.

The only reason why the rest of the world still respects us is our nuclear arsenal. Our bombs are the only reason why we have not been kicked out of the UN yet, ostracized by the world, under economic sanctions, and our military bases kicked out of various countries around the world.00

Our A-bombs are the last and only thing for which the world respects us right now. It is not our science - we have creationists running the show. It is not our economy - foreigners pay for every cent our government uses for any purpose. It is not our conventional military - too poor of a track record there. And it is certainly not for our moral stance. They don't hate us for our freedoms. They pity us for being so ready to relinquish those freedoms just because a dozen bearded wackos managed to kill some of us in NYC and Pentagon. They shake their heads at the hysterical fear of so many of us that takes its outlets on whichever "other" is available: Iraqis, gays, women, blacks, poor, liberals, atheists, Moslems.

This summer I went to Wilmington, NC to a wedding. Wilmington is a heavily Republican area. During five days there, the only Kerry/Edwards sticker I saw was on my car, and even that one went missing one night. Before the wedding I went to a local place to get a haircut. The lady, about 40-ish I'd say, was talkative. I kept saying uncommital stuff just to egg her on, to hear the whole story.

She was talking about "them". Those "them" apparently was a grab-bag category that included Osama Bin-Laden, Iraqis, Moslems, terrorists of all kinds, and foreigners of all kinds. She was deathly afraid of all of "them".

It never crossed her mind that all those people don't have much to do with each other, or that most of them are kinda nice if you get to meet them. It never crossed her mind that no terrorist is going to waste the time, money and lives to hit Wilmington, NC. It never crossed her mind that 9/11 was a freak accident - one time when the bunch of wackos managed to do something successfully for their terrorist aims. It never crossed her mind that Al Qaida is not some huge monolithic organization, but just a bunch of morons collecting porn on their old computers and always scheming something but rarely ever trying to actually put their schemes to work. When they do, they are successful because our defenses are pathetic, not because they are geniuses.

Yet, in the end, she said this [paraphrase]: "You know, some people say that perhaps we here, in America, don't have the most equal of societies, you know, towards women and gays and such. But you know, I'd never go live anywhere else. Who cares about your rights if you are not safe. I'd rather give up on some of those rights than get killed by terrorists."

Whoa! She is willing to wear a jumper in order to be safe, and she'll be safe if she votes Republican, because Republicans are known to be good at security against the phantom menace she believes in. How many things so wrong can one pack into so little talk?

Yes, we still think of ourselves as somehow superior to the rest of the world. Every foreign intervention is (officially) based on the premise that we need to help because the locals are unable to help themselves - how arrogant!

But this is a core value of the conservative moral order. They do not see the difference between patriotism and nationalism. The American superiority is the in-group snootiness - the essential emotional state of a conservative. So, why do the liberals buy into it all the time?

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 1:03 AM | permalink | (1 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Sunday, September 25, 2005

I was happy to see my kids bused to school there

As Test Scores Jump, Raleigh Credits Integration by Income


RALEIGH, N.C. - Over the last decade, black and Hispanic students here in Wake County have made such dramatic strides in standardized reading and math tests that it has caught the attention of education experts around the country.

The main reason for the students' dramatic improvement, say officials and parents in the county, which includes Raleigh and its sprawling suburbs, is that the district has made a concerted effort to integrate the schools economically.

Since 2000, school officials have used income as a prime factor in assigning students to schools, with the goal of limiting the proportion of low-income students in any school to no more than 40 percent.

The effort is the most ambitious in the country to create economically diverse public schools, and it is the most successful, according to several independent experts. La Crosse, Wis.; St. Lucie County, Fla.; San Francisco; Cambridge, Mass.; and Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., have adopted economic integration plans.

In Wake County, only 40 percent of black students in grades three through eight scored at grade level on state tests a decade ago. Last spring, 80 percent did. Hispanic students have made similar strides. Overall, 91 percent of students in those grades scored at grade level in the spring, up from 79 percent 10 years ago.

School officials here have tried many tactics to improve student performance. Teachers get bonuses when their schools make significant progress in standardized tests, and the district uses sophisticated data gathering to identify, and respond to, students' weaknesses.

Some of the strategies used in Wake County could be replicated across the country, the experts said, but they also cautioned that unusual circumstances have helped make the politically delicate task of economic integration possible here.

The school district is countywide, which makes it far easier to combine students from the city and suburbs. The county has a 30-year history of busing students for racial integration, and many parents and students are accustomed to long bus rides to distant schools. The local economy is robust, and the district is growing rapidly. And corporate leaders and newspaper editorial pages here have firmly supported economic diversity in the schools.

Some experts said the academic results in Wake County were particularly significant because they bolstered research that showed low-income students did best when they attended middle-class schools.

"Low-income students who have an opportunity to go to middle-class schools are surrounded by peers who have bigger dreams and who are more academically engaged," said Richard D. Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation who has written about economic integration in schools. "They are surrounded by parents who are more likely to be active in the school. And they are taught by teachers who more likely are highly qualified than the teachers in low-income schools."

To achieve a balance of low- and middle-income children in every school, the Wake County school district encourages and sometimes requires students to attend schools far from home. Suburban students are drawn to magnet schools in the city. Low-income children from the city are bused to middle-class schools in the suburbs.

Some parents chafe at the length of their children's bus rides or at what they see as social engineering. But the test results are hard to dispute, proponents of economic integration say, as is the broad appeal of the school district, which has been growing by 5,000 students a year.

"What I say to parents is, 'Here is what you should hold me accountable for: at the end of that bus ride, are we providing a quality education for your child?' " Bill McNeal, the school superintendent, said.

Asked how parents respond, Mr. McNeal said, "They are coming back, and they are bringing their friends."

Not everyone supports the strategy. Some parents deeply oppose mandatory assignments to schools. Every winter, the district, using a complicated formula, develops a list of students who will be reassigned to new schools for the following academic year, and nearly every year some parents object vehemently.

"Kids are bused all over creation, and they say it's for economic diversity, but really it's a proxy for race," said Cynthia Matson, who is white and middle class. She is the president and a founder of Assignment By Choice, an advocacy group promoting parental choice.

The organization wants parents to be responsible for selecting schools, and it objects to restrictions that, in certain circumstances, make it difficult for some middle-class children to get into magnet schools.

"If a parent wants their kid bused, then let them make the choice," Mrs. Matson said. "But don't force parents to have their kids bused across town to go to a school that they don't want to go to."

Supporters of economic integration contend that the county offers parents many choices but that the school district needs the discretion to assign some children to schools to avoid large concentrations of poor children. "I believe in choice as much as anyone," Mr. McNeal said. "However, I can't let choice erode our ability to provide quality programs and quality teaching."

The board of education had two motives when it decided to make economic integration a main element in the district's strategy: board members feared that the county's three-decade effort to integrate public schools racially would be found unconstitutional if challenged in the federal courts, and they took note of numerous studies that showed the academic benefits of economically diversifying schools.

"There is a lot of evidence that it's just sound educational policy, sound public policy, to try to avoid concentrations of low-achieving students," said John H. Gilbert, a professor emeritus at North Carolina State University in Raleigh who served for 16 years on the county school board and voted for the plan. "They do much better and advantaged students are not hurt by it if you follow policies that avoid concentrating low-achievement students."

One sign of the success of the Wake County plan, Mr. Gilbert said, is that residential property values in Raleigh have remained high, as have those in the suburbs. "The economy is really saying something about the effort in the city," he said.

About 27 percent of the county's students are low-income, a proportion that has increased slightly in recent years. While many are black and Hispanic, about 15 percent are white. Moreover, more than 40 percent of the district's black students are working- and middle-class, and not poor.

Wake County has used many strategies to limit the proportion of low-income students in schools to 40 percent. For example, magnet schools lure many suburban parents to the city.

Betty Trevino lives in Fuquay-Varina, a town in southern Wake County. Ms. Trevino drives her son, Eric, 5, to and from the Joyner Elementary School, where he goes to kindergarten. Students are taught in English and Spanish, and global themes are emphasized at the school, which is north of downtown Raleigh, more than 20 miles from the Trevinos' home. With traffic, the trip takes 45 minutes each way.

"I think it works," she said of her drive halfway across the county, "because it's such a good school."

Many low-income children are bused to suburban schools. While some of their parents are unhappy with the length of the rides, some also said they were happy with their child's school.

"I think it's ridiculous," LaToya Mangum said of the 55 minutes that her son Gabriel, 7, spends riding a bus to the northern reaches of Wake County, where he is in second grade. On the other hand, she said, "So far, I do like the school."

The neighborhood school has been redefined, with complex logistics and attendance maps that can resemble madly gerrymandered Congressional districts.

The Swift Creek Elementary School, in southwest Raleigh near the city line, draws most of its students from within two miles of the school, in both the city and suburbs. But students also come to Swift Creek from four widely scattered areas in low-income sections of south and southeastern Raleigh; some live 6 to 8 miles from the school, while others are as far as 12 miles away.

Ela Browder lives in Cary, an affluent, sprawling suburb, but each morning she puts her 6-year-old son, Michael, on a bus for a short ride across the city line to Swift Creek.

"We're very happy with the school," Ms. Browder said. "The children are very enriched by it. I think it's the best of both worlds."

Of the county's 139 elementary, middle and high schools, all but 22 are within the 40 percent guideline, according to the district's data. Some are only a few percentage points above the guideline, while others are significantly higher.

The overwhelming majority of the 120,000 children in the district go either to a local school or a school of their choice, officials said. Slightly more than 85 percent of students attend a school within five miles of home and another 12 percent or so voluntarily attend magnet or year-round schools.

Although the figures can be calculated many ways, Mr. McNeal says about 2.5 percent - or about 3,000 children - are assigned to schools for economic balance or to accommodate the district's growth by filling new schools or easing overcrowding in existing ones. Most of those bused for economic diversity tend to be low-income, he said.

A school board election will take place in October. While the board has continued to endorse economic integration, some supporters worry that that could change one day.

"It's not easy and it can be very contentious in the community," said Walter C. Sherlin, who retired two years ago as an associate superintendent. "Is it worth doing? Look at 91 percent at or above grade level. Look at 139 schools, all of them successful. I think the answer is obvious."

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 7:43 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink


Ed Cone explains why you should come to Converge South BloggerCon. Along with the guests and luminaries Ed mentions in the article, the local talent will also be present in great numbers. My session is on Friday at 10:30am or so. Hope to see you there!

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 2:27 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Tar Heel Tavern

The Tar Heel Tavern #31 is up on Pratie Place.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 2:17 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Tar Heel Tavern - call for submissions

Next Tar Heel Tavern (thanks to Erin for making the homepage prettier and for assembling the Archives - go there to subscribe to the newsletter!) will be hosted by the ever-delightful Pratie Place.

Send your entries to melinama AT mappamundi DOT com.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 9:10 AM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Friday, September 23, 2005

Tangled Bank - call for submissions

Next edition of the Tangled Bank will be hosted by GirrrrrlScientist aka Hedwig The Owl of the Living The Scientific Life blog. If you have a recent entry (or plan to write one soon) about science, nature, medicine, environment or the relationship between science and society, click on that link for instructions where to send your permalinks.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 2:22 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Dear Google, Thank you for blog search...

This guy has a great idea. Write a blog post titled "Dear Google, Thank you for blog search...". Put in this image and e-mail asking for the Blog search link to be placed on the front page like this:

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 5:35 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Blogging Blogs

Jay Rosen on NYTimes pay-per-view editorial page and on the power of bloggers in the world of MSM.

Chris Anderson has a new version of his definiton of the Long Tail, a new fun tool to understand it and two posts explaining what the Long Tail isn't.

Everything you wanted to know about blogging you can find on SoapBlox.

Danah Boyd explains what Glocalizing Web2.0 Systems are, on poverty, on the phenomenon of MSM citing blogs and why culture matters even in a math class.

Problogger is trying to help you earn some money with your blogging and Successful Blog explains the secrets of blogging to beginner and master alike, while Web Pages That Suck explains the Don'ts of blogging and web-construction that I wish more bloggers would read (myself included, of course).

After the fantastic success of the Ministry of Reshelving action, Avant Game moves to new pursuits, including place storming. But, was reshelving such a great idea? Dunno, this post is suspicious, methinks.

Contentious is another excellent blog exploring the ins and outs of blogs, from technical stuff to its effects on the practice of journalism.

9rules network is something to consider joining.

Colin McEnroe is teaching a blogging class. Among else, all his students are starting their own blogs and writing their first fresh opinions about Dooce, Kottke, dKos, BoingBoing and other famous blogs. Some of their opinions are very good, insightful and instructive. They are all well written. I'd like to boost them by sharing a little link-love - please go and post a comment encouraging their early blogging efforts. Here they are:

Mysterious Pink Lady
Experiencing Technical Difficulties
I hear Kos music
More Pinkness and Eyestrain
Trust the Abyss
Dances (and Disses) With Dooce
Dude, you're scaring me
Lungfull Taichung Angel guest star marathon poet
DJ Mobile
Blogs With Cats
Jean DuBlog
The Rev. William Slone Modest
By Neddie Jingo
I cant's help if I am lucky

The Daou Report has elicited a lot of blog response. The male A-listers mostly say "Heh". But the feminist bloggers are providing some excellent analysis, e.g., Echidne, Pam, and Rana. To see where Rana is coming from, you have to read this older post of hers first.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 4:49 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Good New (to me) Blogs of the Week

This is a wonderful New Orleans blogger - highly recommended. He just went back to assess the damage on his house and to save his (and friend's) pets.

I also discovered this blog recently - a woman who has just evacuated from Rita's path in Texas and intends not to go back.

Finally, this is an interesting blog by a person who teaches a blogging class.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 11:01 AM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink


Blogarithmicly #2, the carnival of linkfests is up!

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 7:45 AM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

International Blog Lurker's Day!

Hey, I had no idea today is a Blog Lurker Day!!!

So if you are a lurker, i.e., a relatively regular reader of my blog but you have never (OK, almost never works, too, which disqualifies what...four people: Eric M, Eric G, Archy and jonnybutter?) posted a comment here, on this day you are encouraged to take a deep breath, sign in on Blogger and post your first comment on my blog.

Say Hi. Tell me who you are. Do you have a blog? When and how did you find my blog? Where do you live? What posts here do you like the most and keep coming back for more of the same? What posts you just hated?! Tell me more. Thanks.

Update: Hey, some other blogs are doing this - go check out their lurkers' response (as well as those I linked originally above).

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 4:19 PM | permalink | (9 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Why is my new razor not lathering?

This, about a year ago, was meant to be a parody. However, today the harsh reality intrudes.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 11:28 AM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Tangled Bank

Sweet Tooth Tangled Bank is now up on Milkriver blog. Go check it out and salivate!

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 8:18 AM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Astrology Academy in Serbia

This I learned from Eric:

How to become an astrologer

For those few remaining stubborn hold-outs who still cannot read Serbo-Croatian, here's a quick translation:
Institute for Astrological Research and Education "Johannes Kepler" recently opened in Belgrade. The goals of the Institute are to support the research in astrology, academic approach to astrology, and to aid astrologers and astrology in gaining social status.

The Institute is not a part of the University system, as officially confirmed by the Ministry of Education, but although astrology is still not accepted as a science, there are international standards in this discipline drawn by the International Astrology Organization, and the Institute's syllabus was written according to these standards.

The graduates of the Institute will receive a Certificate in Natal Astrology, Diploma of Astrology-Consulting and Diploma of Astrology-Lecturer, after which the students may choose specialization abroad. Annual tuition fee is 500 Euros.

Some contend that the large popularity of astrology in Serbia is mainly the result of the economic crisis and poor education and that there is nothing there to teach, but graduated astrologers may find jobs in Serbia more easily than some other kinds of experts.
What is really interesting are the reader's comments. There are, so far, only 21 comments. Of those, one is by an astrologer pretending it is a science, and one is a feeble attempt at a defense of astrology. The rest are either outrage or mockery. Many lament the (ab)use of Kepler's name for it.

One writes: "It's not that is is not yet accepted as science - it will never be accepted. Popularity of astrology and similiar pseudoscience is due to the tolerance towards various frauds of this kind."

Another: "Ah, everything in the country is functioning so perfectly, only this academy was missing...".

Another: "Next step is the Medical School of Charms".

One, after an outrage, seriously wonders "Can graduates apply to the National Bureau for Employment?".

Several point out that astrology and other pseudoscience are much more popular in the West, e.g., "Fine, Europe is slowly coming to us....".

One asks "I'd like to know who opened this kind of institution and who approved of its founding?"

Another suggests opening schools for tin-rolling and cauldron-making as those crafts are more honest and useful.

"Why is some "graduated individual" going to tell me how Pluto on the other side of the Sun at the moment of my birth, THROUGH THE SUN, affected me so much that this has to be studied at an academy, while nobody is studying the effects of the lightbulb above the table when I emerged into the light of day?"

One writes a satire and ends:"But now I am starting to believe my horoscope. Just yesterday it said that 'nothing important is going to happen today' and, really, nothing important happened, so this means they are starting to guess correctly..."

One describes the phenomenon of "online" Universities, aka diploma-mills in the West and concludes that compared to that, a little fun horoscope with morning coffee is not nearly as harmful. He is hoping that the academy will at least teach the frauds to write their horoscopes with less vulgarity.

One is insulted they used Kepler's name and compares astrology to card games (not Tarot, but poker!) and cooking, i.e, something that cannot ever be defined as science. Then he asserts that the building of the academy is fraudulent and asks if the inspectors will intervene (interesting that it is assumed reasonable that the state has the power to intervene against anti-social fraud!).

Another commenter mocks the current Serbian climate: "If we can't help ourselves, perhaps stars will!"

I understand that the educational system in Serbia has made a nose-dive during a decade of wars, sanctions and Milosevic. The good teachers are gone. Kids are on drugs and bring guns to school. The school system I remember was one of the best in the world. Now it is nowhere near, though it is still way ahead of the US public schools. Even with bad teachers and discipline problems, Serbian kids still get eight years of biology, eight years of physics and eight years of chemistry before they graduate from high school, as compared to one year of each here. And there is still much educational capital retained in people older than eighteen. After all, the popular outcry defended Darwin from being challenged in Serban schools last year:

I Take This Personally
Saga Continues
Serbs Like Darwin After All
Darwin In Serbia, He Said, She Said
More On Darwin In Serbia

Update: A reader sent me a link to this marvellous webpage: Teorija Evolucije. It is in Serbo-Croatian and it is an excellent resource. It contains an explanation of what evolution is and how it works with numerous nifty examples, a point-by-point debunking of creationist talking points, and excellent links to English-language pages, e.g., Talkorigins, Tree of Life, etc. Go take a look even if you do not speak the language as it is well organized and pretty.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 1:34 AM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Grand Rounds

Grand Rounds #52 is up.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 9:19 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Academic Blog Survey

Overview: The following survey is for bloggers who are actual or aspiring academics (thus including students). It takes the form of a go-meme to provide bloggers a strong incentive to join in: the 'Link List' means that you will receive links from all those who pick up the survey 'downstream' from you. The aim is to create open-source data about academic blogs that is publicly available for further analysis. Analysts can find the data by searching for the tracking identifier-code: "acb109m3m3". Further details, and eventual updates with results, can be found on the original posting:

: Simply copy and paste this post to your own blog, replacing my survey answers with your own, as appropriate, and adding your blog to the Link List.

(1) Your post must include the four sections: Overview, Instructions, Link List, and Survey. (2) Remember to link to every blog in the Link List. (3) For tracking purposes, your post must include the following code: acb109m3m3

Link List (or 'extended hat-tip')
1. Philosophy, et cetera
2. Science And Politics and Circadiana
3. Add a link to your blog here



Age - 39
Gender - Male
Location – Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
Religion – Nada, Zero, Zilch
Began blogging - August 2004
Academic field – Biology (chronobiology)
Academic position [tenured?] – PhD candidate - ABD

Approximate blog stats

Rate of posting –
daily or more

Average no. hits –
Science And Politics: slowly and steadily rising to the current 280/day
Circadiana: varies wildly – as little as 80/day on lazy summer weekends and as many a few thousand/day when it gets hit by a big blogger (e.g., Boing Boing, Daily Dish, Instapundit, Pharyngula) or someone places a link to a post on stumbleupon,, or Blogger Dashboard “Blogs of Note”.

Average no. comments –

Blog content –
Science And Politics: a very varied mix: mostly political, but also science, bashing pseudoscience and religion, meta-blogging (blog carnivals), reviewing books and movies, humor, and even a little bit of personal stuff (not too personal – some childhood recollections and being proud of my kids’ accomplishments). While I word my opinions strongly and with aggressive confidence, I mostly remain within the realm of polite language and decent grammar.
Circadiana: this blog is designed to cover ONLY science – the posts include coverage of recent research in chronobiology as well as media coverage of the field. However, the most important aspect of the blog is a series of instructional essays that I intend to use as a teaching tool one day, once I get hired to teach about biological rhythms.

Other Questions

1) Do you blog under your real name? Why / why not?
- Yes. I started out anonymously and placed my name about 6 months later (once I started Circadiana). While ranting about politics may better be done anonymously, I felt that running Circadiana required me to place my name (and thus credentials) so that the readers can trust my credentials to write about a narrowly specialized topic. I am still not sure if I did the right thing.

2) Do colleagues or others in your department know that you blog? If so, has anyone reacted positively or negatively?
- Yes. A couple of my colleagues know but do not appear to understand what it is and I doubt they read it at all. My advisor discovered Circadiana by googling a topic I covered in a post. I think he liked it in general, though he thinks that blogging is taking too much time away from Dissertation-writing (which is correct). I do not think he knows about Science And Politics.

3) Are you on the job market?
- Not right now but will be soon

4) Do you mention your blog on your CV or other job application material?
- I am considering placing Circadiana on my CV as it is most directly relevant to my research and teaching. Anyone blog-savvy can easily discover, while browsing Circadiana, my other blog (as well as group blogs I participate on).

5) Has your blog been mentioned at all in interviews, tenure reviews, etc.? If so, provide details.
- Not applicable yet. Does Circadiana being mentioned in Make Magazine count?

6) Why do you blog?
- I think I was waiting all my life for the technology that would let me write my thoughts for everyone to read. I always think as if I am constructing an essay (or a speech) and felt that it is a pity most of that never got written down and shared. I never bothered keeping a hand-written diary because I crave the audience. On the other hand, Circadiana is designed as a primarily teaching tool and my personality rarely shines through.

Tag: I hope that De Rerum Natura, She Flies With Her Own Wings and Sleepdoctor respond to this survey.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 9:17 AM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink