Light posting for a little while

Byline: | Category: 2012, Blogging, Economy, Military, Regulations, Taxes & Spending, wine | Posted at: Monday, 14 May 2012

Starting tomorrow I will be going on active duty for the next four months.  That means that my posts will probably be less frequent and will certainly be less partisan.  When I come back in September I will return with a fresh up-close perspective on the European economy, Middle East politics, and Defense Department waste, as well as the upcoming presidential election. 

And if I’m real lucky, I’ll be able to talk with you about a book.

BTW, this might be a good opportunity to reiterate that whatever opinions you read on this site are mine alone and are not to be construed as the opinions of the Department of Defense.

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Wrong answers are cheap

Byline: | Category: Blogging, Culture, Economy | Posted at: Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Via Glenn and Michael, I learned that there is supposedly this vast right wing conspiracy of that distributes huge sums to conservative bloggers

There is?  Where is this gravy train and how do I get on it?

Unfortunately for me, I don’t think there is a lot of money flowing to conservative bloggers*, it’s just that . . . well, this comment about the leftosphere probably says it best:

“Demand and supply. The amount of moderately informed bad opinion is rather immense and worth much less than those producing it seem to think.”

* If I’m wrong about that, please, let me know.

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Are wine drinkers snobs?

Byline: | Category: Blogging, Culture, wine | Posted at: Tuesday, 10 April 2012

I’m doing some wine research and I keep running across wine blog posts that come off as . . . well, snobbish. 

Here’s one discussing the thrill of being in a bubble separate from US culture, ironically even while discounting research that such a bubble might exist.  ” . . . at least my bubble is stocked with decent wines (and, yes, most of them are French, as if that even needs to be said).”  Read the comments for more.

Dr. Vino, a Ph.D., is another blogger who sometimes treads near snobbish waters.  He wrote recently about the propensity of wine writers to write reviews of higher price wines in a post entitled, “Do wine writers write only for the one percent?” 

Obviously, not all wine writing is snobbish, and to be fair to these wine bloggers, I enjoy reading them all and have even written a guest post for one of them.  Still, there does seem to exist a tension on wine blogs between a disdain for beer and mass-produced wines on the one hand and dismay that there aren’t more American wine drinkers on the other.  It’s the oenological equivalent to simultaneously complaining about people who shop at the big box stores (especially WalMart) where most Americans shop, while trying to convince those same Americans to support their views.

If a drink divide does exist in America, the fault for the fault exists on both sides.  While travelling several states over for the Easter Holiday my radio scanned to the Sean Hannity Show.  He was in a discussion with one of his producers or interns in the studio when the subject turned to alcoholic drinks.  Asked about his drinking habits, the host was almost apoplectic with denial that he was a wine drinker.  Hannity prefers Coors Lite.  And with obvious pride, he announced that he had never eaten brie.  Chips and dip were his cocktail cuisine of choice.  It was reverse snobbery as a form of snobbery itself.

Germany, where I’ve spent most of the last two years, is a country which straddles the beer-wine divide.  Most Americans probably visualize Germans as lederhosen-clad, polka-listening swillers of suds.  However, even in beer-centric Bavaria there exists a wine region (Franken) nearly as prolific as the Sonoma Valley.  Further west along the Rhine, grapes grow in even greater abundance.  And while the Germans I’ve met each have their favorite beverage, in my experience they don’t tend to begrudge those who make a different choice.  They certainly don’t seem to attach economic or political significance to one’s choice of drink.

If there is any significance to one’s choice of drink, it is regional.  In Württemberg locals sip quarter-liter mugs of trollinger, a pale red wine made from grapes grown pretty much only in the Stuttgart area. Just east of there in Bavaria, weizen, a beer made from wheat is the beverage of choice. Further north, where barley better tolerates the cool weather, pilsner is the local drink. It is similar across much of Europe: locals drink locally.

Americans, ever willing to go national with a popular product, have broken the local link to drink.  Perhaps with the nationalization of beverages, there came about the opportunity to differentiate drinkers.  It wouldn’t be the first time that Madison Avenue marketing has convinced Americans to select products based less on what they like, and more on what they would like to say about themselves.

As one who enjoys both stem and stein, I resent the imposition of socio-politics into drink.  The choice to me is all about context:  I would no sooner drink a zinfandel at a sunny summer ball game than I would toast a bride with Budweiser.  Each has its place.  And it is not the place of wine snobs or beer-drinking reverse snobs to pronounce judgment on the other.  If you agree, I would ask that you raise your glass with me–whatever might be in it.

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His silence was deafening

Byline: | Category: Blogging, Media, TN Politics | Posted at: Monday, 30 January 2012

One of Tennessee’s best voices belongs to Michael Silence.  For seven years he wrote for the Knoxville News Sentinel in print, but was best known for his online column entitled “No Silence Here.” 

A few weeks ago Michael was “down-sized” by his dead tree employer.  But now he’s back.  Make sure to stop by and up the volume at his new home.

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Back on active duty

Byline: | Category: Blogging, Military | Posted at: Wednesday, 16 February 2011

I’m back on active duty until early 2012, so posting may be light–especially on political subjects.  The good news is that my family will get to join me for a significant portion of this tour.  So, no, it’s not Iraq again; nor is it Afghanistan.

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Wiki Idiocy

Byline: | Category: Blogging, Media, Military, Uncategorized | Posted at: Thursday, 2 December 2010

I got this message yesterday from Army Reserve leadership:

As a security reminder to all Soldiers, individuals should not access the WikiLeaks web site to view, download, or print any information which is potentially classified. All personnel are reminded that the accessing of classified information on an unclassified network, either on government or privately owned computers, could constitute a security violation or place our national security at risk.In accordance with Executive Order 13526, classified information shall not be declassified automatically as a result of any unauthorized disclosure and will remain classified until it is formally declassified by an appropriate authority. Therefore, information on the internet which is or appears to be classified should be handled as such until it is properly declassified. The unauthorized disclosure, unauthorized retention, or negligent handling of classified information may result in termination of security clearance, termination of employment, or prosecution.

You, on the other hand–assuming that you aren’t a military member, government employee, or holder of a current security clearance–are not prohibited by this Executive Order from accessing classified information via wikileaks.

Does anyone else find this to be like the idiocy of restrictive gun laws: 

If only uncleared personnel are able to access classified information, then the only people with access to classified information will be those without security clearances.

Horse.  Stampede.  Barndoor.


Jay made the analogy to finding a classified document on a copying machine.  You’re not permitted to read it.  But the analogy, as he pointed out, is extreme.  A copying machine in a secure facility is not the internet.

Question:  If instead of Wikileaks, it was the Washington Post that had printed/posted these documents, would it then be open source information?  Yes.  Now that’s not to say that someone with a clearance would then be permitted to confirm the documents’ authenticity.  But I don’t think you’d see a push to prevent cleared people from reading the newspaper.  The regulations haven’t caught up to the fact that whether it’s a website or a newspaper, they’re both open sources of information.

As I said in my previous post on the subject:

This is really the same problem that has long confronted recording artists, the motion picture industry, and other creators of intellectual content:  electronic data is easily copied, easily shared, and not easily restricted to paying customers or rightful recipients.  The RCIA and MPA have had more than a decade to formulate new business models to the threat of file sharing . . . with varying degrees of success.  The federal government is late to recognizing this as a problem, but has the advantage of being able to quickly learn from those who came first.

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My absence

Byline: | Category: Blogging | Posted at: Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Sorry for the light posting.  I’m on active duty for a few weeks. 

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The water cooler is spreading a virus

Byline: | Category: Blogging, Culture, Media | Posted at: Thursday, 16 April 2009

UPDATE:  Thanks for stopping by from Instapundit.  Look around.  And please stop by my page on Facebook

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, two events have leapt into America’s consciousness this week.  The first was the Tea Party protests involving hundreds of thousands of ordinary Americans in hundreds of cities all around the country. 

susanboyle.jpgThe second was the sudden and stunning success of previously unknown church choir singer, Susan Boyle, who wowed judges and the audience in an audition for Britain’s Got Talent, the Anglican version of American Idol.  Since Saturday night when her first song was broadcast to a British audience, Ms. Boyle’s televised appearance has been viewed by no less than 40 million people, a population eight times that of her native Scotland.  In just the last 24 hours she has been mentioned, complete with a color picture, on the front page of the Washington Post, was interviewed live on the CBS Early Show, and has been booked for an appearance on Oprah.

What these two seemingly unrelated events have in common is the internet.

Courtesy of Jonah Goldberg, I first became aware of Ms. Boyle Tuesday morning.  My wife discovered her two days later when she appeared on the CBS morning show.  I mention this because the timing is important.  In an era–even just a decade ago–before YouTube, Ms. Boyle’s audition would have been the subject of the conversations of only those few UK viewers who happened to see her this past Saturday.  In other words: water cooler talk. 

“Hey, did you see that dowdy church lady really belt one out Saturday night?” 

“Uhh, no.  I watched Manchester come from behind against Sunderland.”

And that would have been it.  Without the internet Susan Boyle might still go on to win BGT.  Now, because of the viral nature of the new media, instead of wishing to be as famous as Elaine Paige, which the unknown Boyle said she wished to be, it’s quite possible that some day very soon, Elaine Paige, the Sir Laurence Olivier Award-winning actress, will be wishing that she was as famous as Susan Boyle.

Hours before Oprah, the Post, and Mark Phillips had ever heard of Susan Boyle, I did.  And so too did millions of others.  Ms. Boyle was already an American sensation before the American media ever arrived. 

Which brings me to the Tea Parties. . .

In the last few days before Wednesday, I began to hear rumblings that the virtually-0rganized Tax Day protests had finally grown to such an extent that the Republican Party wanted to jump on the bandwagon.  It was too late.  Even the head of the RNC was denied a speaking role.  This was a movement that had already grown outside the mainstream of American politics. 

Oprah Winfrey, accustomed to giving unknown authors a portion of her prominence by featuring their works, felt compelled to jump on the Boyle bandwagon after only one song.  It was only two years ago when, it took until Paul Potts that years’ BGT winner, was already crowned, before Oprah, then still ahead of the new media curve, introduced him to an American audience.  Now, Oprah has to make the introduction early–or at least as early as she can, since millions of Yankees have already seen Ms. Boyle, even though her singing career spans a grand total of two minutes and twenty seconds. 

This is the speed of the modern internet.  Instead of needing the establishment to give credibility to a movement–be it political or cultural–the establishment needs those movements to keep them relevant.

Let’s be bipartisan here.  Before there were Tea Parties and unknown divas, there was Barack.  He, himself, is a new media creation–a man, who only five years ago was a back-bench state senator, who was thrust upon a stage long before the establishment would have ever deemed him ready.  But the internet didn’t wait for the establishment to lead.  The establishment followed them–eventually dumping Hillary, the one on whom all their bets were originally placed.

This is a new era.  No more do Susan Boyles need Oprahs to give them an American introduction, and no longer do Americans themselves need political parties to make a political movement.  The days when movements require an  imprimatur are past.  Water cooler talk, which not too long ago, followed where the establishment wished to lead, now leads where the establishment has no choice but to follow.


An example of how slow word, or rather song, travelled in the era before YouTube, here is a Susan Boyle recording of Cry Me a River from a charity CD produced in 1999.  It may even be better than her BGT audition.

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Radio killed the newspaper star

Byline: | Category: Blogging, Media | Posted at: Monday, 16 March 2009

According to Kathleen Parker the demise of newspapers is primarily the fault of Rush Limbaugh.

A few thoughts:

1.  What is it about his 20 million listeners that they wield such influence in a nation of 300 million? 

2.  If they have such influence, how are they losing elections?

3.  There are so many reasons for the death of newspapers.  Rush is only one of them.  However, to claim him as THE cause betrays a simplistic level of thinking that might have more to do with the death of newspapers than Rush had to do with it.

4.  If you think he’s arrogant now, imagine how much more so, if the media themselves claim Rush was their conqueror.

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Thanks . . . and a bleg

Byline: | Category: Blogging | Posted at: Friday, 2 January 2009

It’s the time of year when people take stock.  One of the things I did today was to review the traffic to my blog–something I don’t do very often, probably because I don’t know what to do with the information.

I learned that from February through December of 2008 (January’s data looks like it has already been purged) this website received 1,580,340 page views.  I don’t know how many of those are repeat visitors, but in the site’s busiest month there were over 50,000 unique visitors.

This brings up two points:

First:  THANKS!  I don’t know who all you people are, but thanks for stopping by to view my ramblings.  Don’t let my increasingly infrequent posting give you the mistaken impression that I don’t appreciate you being out there.  I do.  But as you all know, sometimes life gets in the way.  And sometimes you just don’t feel like posting–like after an overly long election season, that quite frankly even though my guy lost, I’m just relieved is finally over.  Thank you all. 

Thanks especially to folks like Glenn Reynolds, K-Lo and J-Go, and James Taranto, who are probably responsible for most of the traffic here.  But equal thanks also goes out to all the other bloggers who have linked here in the past year including Ace, ACK, The Anchoress, Bill Hobbs, Clint Brewer, Dean Esmay, Digital NicotineDon Surber, K-Co, MCO, Michael Silence, Michelle Malkin, The MooresPhil Carter, PowerLine, RedState, Roger Abramson, SayUncle, Sean Braisted, Snowflakes in Hell, Tom Maguire, VolAbroad, Webutante, and my Lib Dem Councillor friend, as well as many, many others.

Second:  The bleg:  Is this a lot of blog traffic?  A little?  Is there any money in this sort of thing?  If so, what next?


Thanks again to Glenn for the link, and thanks for coming over from Instapundit if that’s how you got here.  Check out the rest of the site to see if it’s something you like.  Thanks also for the comments I’m getting on this question.

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