Archive for May, 2005

Headline of the Day

May 31st, 2005
Humans "not to blame" for giant wombat extinction.

DSW, #98

May 31st, 2005
C. L. R. James, author of The Black Jacobins, Beyond a Boundary and others, born in Trinidad, 4 January 1901; died in London, 31 May 1989.

Sweet FA

May 30th, 2005
Paul Anderson writes:
"Jeez! I've been looking for Brit blog comment on the French vote all day and there's sweet FA from the Brit left blogs."
Perhaps he missed posts shortly before the vote from Phil and Jamie, and posts after the result was clear came from Lenin, DML, Raj and SIAW. And if PA's version of the left side of the World of Blogs extends to rightist maniacs like Pollard, then he's got a bunch of idiotic posts up, too.So there's a bit more than sweet FA. The two reasons there might be a bit less than there otherwise would have been are (i) that the result wasn't a surprise, so anyone who had anything to say could have said it days ago and (ii) it was a Bank Holiday today, and bloggerage is always down on Bank Holidays, for reasons which might reflect badly on the work ethic of Brit Bloggers. I'm just curious as to which blogs PA was visiting in order to draw his blanks? It's pretty obvious that Harry's has little interest in this kind of thing, when there's Hitchens and Galloway to blather on about, and Matt T's on holiday. In any case, even if there wasn't any comment (which there was), why is it any kind of failure if those of us who write on weblogs don't choose to write about the same kinds of things that journalists get paid to write about? We're interested in other things. Maybe those other things are more interesting. Maybe there really isn't that much to say.

Housekeeping

May 30th, 2005
I've just trimmed twenty-five blogs off the blogroll -- a bit more than a fifth, a bit less than a quarter -- in the interests of efficiency, productivity, streamlining and other words from the lexicon of the modern manager. On the whole, blogs were removed that (i) aren't very interesting, (ii) seem fairly or completely defunct, (iii) used to link back to this page but don't anymore, or (iv) can get along perfectly well without a link from me -- though I'm sure that's a non-exhaustive set of reasons. If you think you've been unfairly removed and would like to stay on the blogroll, or if you think there's someone else out there who deserves a Link from the Stoa, please remonstrate either in public (comments box) or private (email). And if your site is still on the list, you can congratulate yourself for having survived the purge.

Après Moi…

May 30th, 2005
In his solemn broadcast last week, a few days before the referendum, President Chirac said that it was important that the vote not be a plebiscite on whether the electorate was satisfied with the right-wing French government, but should be a vote about the future of Europe, etc. But what if he had gone on to add that the best way to ensure this outcome was for the President [*] to promise to resign in the event of a "Oui" vote? Then the Europhiles would have been pleased -- they would have won their referendum and then got to blame either the Dutch or the British for derailing the constitution after one of the later votes; the French Right would have been pleased -- it could have secured a Presidential majority for Sarkozy in the ensuing elections, got Chirac out of the way, and continued in power; and Chirac himself really ought to have been pleased -- he could present himself as going out on a high, on a point of principle, bringing his exceptionally long political career to a more dignified conclusion than he deserves. It would have been utterly unlike Chirac to do something like that, of course, though I'm not sure whether dislike of Sarkozy, fear of prosecution, or the simple pleasure of holding office would have been his chief reason for not doing it. But it would have made things more interesting. [*] I assume that Chirac refers to himself in the third person, but perhaps he doesn't.

The Great British Public Disgraces Itself Again

May 30th, 2005
Over here. It's just grim.

Funded by the Right

May 30th, 2005
Via Brian Leiter, I read that the Olin Foundation is shutting itself down, meaning that the American Right will have to find another $20 million each year if it wants to carry on doing what it's been doing with Olin money for the last few years. I was a happy recipient of Olin money on two occasions, funneled through Harvard's Program [sic] on Constitutional Government, once to take some time out to read Saint Augustine's Confessions in Latin in the Summer of 1996, and then to go on UC Berkeley's intensive Greek summer-school course in the Summer of 1999. A relatively benign use of right-wing foundation money, it seems to me. (Although the Liberty Fund's Natural Law and Enlightenment Classics series is probably even more benign than that, making cheap editions of Hugo Grotius, Nathaniel Culverwell, Gershom Carmichael and others available to a mass audience at the turn of the twenty-first century...)

Summer Sports

May 30th, 2005
Norm has a link to a splendid cricket joke, and then quotes a sceptic -- "You can accuse me of having a short attention span, but I find the whole concept of playing a game for FIVE DAYS to be just the other side of lunacy" -- and then comments:
"No, that is the entire secret, and the beauty, of Test match cricket; it is what makes it matchless in all sport. I could go on: speak of unfolding drama, epic quality, individual character on display."
He might be right, and he may very well be right for Test Match cricket at its very best (which is quite rare). But "matchless" is too strong.Test Matches go on for five days. The Tour de France goes on for three weeks, with a venue even more magnificent than Lord's -- one of the greatest countries in the world, and the only one with both Alps and Pyrenees -- and, in a good year (which isn't uncommon) possesses these rightly celebrated elements of (i) unfolding drama, (ii) epic quality and (iii) individual character in whopping great truckloads. And -- just like Test Match cricket -- it goes on for hours and hours at a time, can't be compressed at all adequately into a half-hour highlights show in the evening, and is utterly baffling to those who will never understand. The World of Blogs is well-equipped for enjoying cycling these days. Blognor Regis has recently been covering the just-finished Giro d'Italia, Backword Dave is a fan, and the Tour de France blog is always useful. This year, the last mountain stage in the Tour is on 19 July; the First Test Match begins on 21 July. So cricket fans have no excuse this year for not paying attention.

A Woolly Sort of Fleecy Hairy Goat

May 30th, 2005
Hooray for the llama, who will help to rid the world of all known diseases!

DSW, #97

May 29th, 2005
Erich Honecker, German Communist, builder of the Berlin Wall, and first secretary of the East German Party, 1971-1989. Born 25 August 1912 in the Saar; died in Santiago, 29 May 1994.

Thanks!

May 27th, 2005
Since I'm not doing much else these days apart from saying thanks to people, thanks go out also to those in the World of Blogs who worked to overturn last month's boycott of two Israeli universities, in particular to Norm for his many informative posts on the subject, to the boys at Engage, who made a difference, and to Chris Bertram in Bristol AUT -- and a special shout-out to Gauche's Paul Anderson, delegate at Special Council, who tried to go the extra mile but whose "attempt to make a telling intervention in the debate was utter crap: I got stage-fright big-time, froze and then gibbered incoherently. Complete panic. I need help." (For my own views on the boycott, go here and scroll up.)

Anniversary

May 27th, 2005
The Virtual Stoa's four today. My goodness. How old. Blogger tells me there've been 1,182 posts here over those 1,460 days; Sitemeter tells me that there've been 117,590 visits to the Stoa since it was installed, though I don't remember just when that was (quite a while ago, though); TTLB tells me that I've evolved from being an adorable little rodent to a marauding marsupial over the last twelve months; and my email folders tell me there have been 2,578 non-spam comments posted here since I installed the enetation comments boxes twenty-five months ago (which is about as many as Harry's gets on a slow day). A few months ago, Nick Barlow commented that the VS was the only blog he could think of that had been going for a while but which never had a major facelift or redesign. That's not quite right -- there wasn't a sidebar once upon a time (here's a view of the front page from three years ago, with the first anniversary post at the top) and the reason there wasn't a sidebar should be obvious: back in 2001-2 there were hardly any blogs out there worth linking to (another snapshot, from August'02 shows what a short blogroll it was when it finally appeared), and a vanishingly small number of decent UK blogs. But the general visual design is still pretty much the one I assembled back in May 2001, and while Blogger has been frustrating at times (especially in that first year), I've never become so annoyed with it that I've seriously investigated a different blogprovider. Thanks for reading and commenting, as ever, and the traditional birthday greetings go out to the unusual suspects, the people who populate this particular corner of the World of Blogs, and who make it a worthwhile and interestingly argumentative place to be: to Mischievous Michael, Alarming Sarah, Worrying Raj, the Normmeister, Backword Dave (get those comments working!), Bloody Jamie, Sloop John B, Natty Visual Display of Information Chris, "Excel" Matt, Peter the Great, Early Modern Sharon, Operatic Gert, the King of the Silver Dollar, Chris, Daniel and the rest of the Crooked Timber gang, Harry and Friends, the Waiting Socialists, Polling Anthony and Gambling Mike, the Leninologist, and Colchester's finest, Nick Barlow and Hal Berstram. And greetings also to the fairly recent wave of brand new OxBlogs, to Considering Robert, Citizen Bance, Tea-Drinking Kate, two varieties of salmon, PopTexting Abby and - the newest arrival - Cllr Dan. And finally to those fallen comrades whom we hope will return to the fray before too long -- the Moidering Marc and the Pootering Geek. (And apologies to those who really should be in that list, above, but who've been inadvertently left out of this unscientific sample.) I couldn't do it without you. Well, actually, I could, and I did, 2001-2003 or so, but it was less fun.
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