The Great Rat Race

Jay Solo and the ladies at Right We Are have decided to take competitiveness about Ecosystem rankings to a new level.
See the announcement at Right We Are, or at Jay’s place:
The Great Rat Race!
Think of it as Evolution In Action.
Right We Are! and Jay Solo are embarking on a quest for our missing links.
That’s right, it’s an evolutionary race. Here are the details:
Currently the two blogs are both Marauding Marsupials in the Blogosphere Ecosystem, and have generally ranked near each other in links. Currently Right We Are! is at 88 and Jay Solo is at 82.
There will be a handicap of 6 for Jay Solo, to make it an even start.
The winner will be the first to evolve into a Large Mammal, and remain one for ten days without devolving to a lower life form.
It’s that simple! Your links determine who evolves faster, so long as you are part of the evolutionary chain yourself. If you haven’t, you’ll want to list your blog with the Ecosystem so your link will count.

It would be, of course, inappropriate for me to choose sides in this particular contest (notice the exactly equal number of links to each site in this post). But don’t let that stop you! Pointless competitiveness — it’s a good thing!

HTML Cut-and-Paste Now Available

OK, I added the page I had talked about creating which provides HTML code for all the Showcase entries to make it easy to cut-and-paste into your blogging tool.
The hope, of course, is that this will encourage folks to actually link to new blog entries, and boost participation in the contest.
Let me know if this is helpful!
-NZB

Showcase: To Sort, Or Not To Sort. That is the question.

Ok, in my call for comments on the Showcase, one suggestion has gained significant support that actually surprises me.
Currently, the list is presented sorted by who is currently in the lead — the blog with the most links appears at the top. Many folks, however, have suggested that the list be presented in random order or at least some other order than by number of links.
I’d like to open this thread, therefore, to call for a poll of anybody who’s willing to answer. Would you rather see:
a) the list stay sorted as-is, in descending order according to who’s in the lead
b) See it sorted completely randomly (possibly changing on each viewing to keep it shuffling around)
c) See it sorted by some other method (alphabetically, by blog start date, by submission date…)
Reply to this post with your take; let’s keep this thread specific to this particular issue, though; dump your more general comments in the general feedback post. Thanks!

Right is Wrong Part II: Do we have to choose sides?

This is part of an ongoing dialogue with Cowboy Kahil about the Ecosystem and New Blog Showcase that began in this post. I was going to put it as a comment there, but it’s long enough and relevant enough that I figured it might as well go up here.
——————-
Cowboy –
I appreciate your response. Let me preface my own by acknowledging that you caught me at the end of a bad day, and I was likely a bit more snippy than I might otherwise have been. Bottom line: no major offense taken here; not a big deal on an irritation level — though we do have significant differences of opinion and philosophy, on which I’ll elaborate (sans too many snarky comments) here.
That said, to address some of your specific points: indeed, the phrase “I know the TTLB system has flaws in its counting, while other systems are closer to the mark” was the crux of the problem, and what set me off.
In the first place, I’ve grown rather weary of people who think they know about flaws in the Ecosystem and carp about them. This does NOT apply to folks who actually email me about specific issues in the spirit of pointing out problems so they can be fixed; I’m just talking about those who post about it elsewhere and toss off offhand comments implying that it’s broken or “flawed”. It’s annoying, and it’s rude, particularly if there are no facts or evidence given to support the accusation.
Given that you made that statement in the context of arguing that female and lefty bloggers are underrepresented, and that you said “other systems are closer to the mark”, it certainly sounded to me like you might be implying some inherent bias in the system. If that was not your intent, fine; glad we cleared that up.
I think my larger problem with your message was that the underlying attitude — which really does feel like affirmititive action to me — really rubbed me the wrong way. I may post in more detail on this later; but at a basic level, my vision for the new blogger showcase was to level the playing field a bit and give new bloggers a chance to get exposure they might otherwise not get. But central to the project is the idea that this isn’t a gift; it’s a chance for those new bloggers to demonstrate their own skills and competence; to win on their merits.
The reality is, if you are encouraging people to link to bloggers in the contest because they are lefty, or because they are female; well, then the contest no longer becomes one of pure merit. (And yes, I know, “merit” in this case is a damned slippery concept). Now a new blogger is at a disadvantage if they don’t toe a particular ideological line, or if they happen to be male.
And your further statement on your vision didn’t reassure me either:
“I included you in the mailing (and note that I did not send that to my entire list of lefties) to call your attention to the fact that I was doing some cheerleading for the Left. I thought it would be handy for you to promote the contest for the microbes. If the Right responded in kind, more cheerleaders, Right and Left, would emerge, more attention would come to all the newbies and to your site, and it’d be a win-win all around.”
Well, maybe this would be a win for me, if all I wanted was greater traffic. But frankly, I don’t much like that vision. In that world, what happens to bloggers who aren’t toeing the ideologicial line of either right or left? I think central in your approach is an assumption that there are always large warring camps (left and right; female and — I guess, by your logic — male) supporting their own team.
This is antithetical to the way I like to think about the Showcase, and the blogosphere in general. I think one of the best things about it is that — by modern media standards, at least — you do see a great deal of individuality and a reluctance to accept a single party line on issues. It’s been widely pointed out that the two leading “right-wingers” of the Blogosphere — Glenn Reynolds and Andrew Sullivan — are hardly Republican Party poster-children. Glenn bashes the Bush administration regularly on a host of issues; Andrew is a gay Catholic conservative (and I can’t think of anything less party line than that) who staunchly supported Bush on the war and is now beating the heck out of him on his budget.
Reducing the Blogosphere to “left” and “right” camps strikes me as just silly. And by the way: you do realize that I myself get classified as a lefty blogger sometimes, yes? I always chuckle at that — but then, I suppose I should chuckle just as much when I’m referred to as a “right” blogger. It’s a stupid way to classify folks given the complexity of issues we face today, and given the fact that in the Blogosphere, there’s no reason to do so.
In modern politics, the fact is that you’re either with the Republicans, or the Democrats. You have to choose, or you won’t get far, and you won’t be able to get into office. This forces a dichotomy in the space of actual politics — one must choose a side.
But that is not the case in the Blogosphere. There’s no reason to choose a side and toe the party line. I can write a left-leaning post one day about one issue, and a right-leaning one about a different issue the next. My credibility and, presumably, interest to my readers (the only payoff that really matters to me, and I suspect to most bloggers) doesn’t go down because of this — it most likely goes up.
Anyway, nuff said for now on that, but I’d certainly welcome others’ thoughts on this issue.
All that said, I do appreciate your efforts to spread the word about the Showcase, and to point out specific errors in the Ecosystem listings. I have no objection at all to you arguing, as you have, for folks to give special attention to particular sub-groups of “disadvantaged” bloggers and using membership in those groups as criteria in linking as opposed to (or, as I think you would argue, in addition to) the sheer quality of their work.
I reserve the right, however, to argue against you on that point…

Right is Wrong!

I received a rather interesting e-mail from Cowboy Kahlil of ReachM High Cowboy Network Noose tonight. It wasn’t marked not for publication, and appeared to be sent to a BCC’ed distribution list. Since much of it was directly related to The Truth Laid Bear and my various projects, I think I’m within my rights & general blogging standards of courtesy to post it here, with my reactions.
Hi;
I’m not trolling for hits, so please don’t regard this as spam. If I haven’t communicated with you before, please scroll to the bottom for an intro. This is lengthy, so you may want to read it when you have a few minutes.
If you review this and want off my address book, please say so (I only do a mass emailing once every 4 to 6 weeks, so I’m not too pesty…. and usually keep it brief.)
There’s several purposes in my writing you.
First, I’m trying to determine if email is a viable method of organizing left leaning folks. For anyone who hasn’t heard of the pending FCC decision Monday, today’s the last chance to phone your reps to try and block it. (A good source of info on this – among many – is Lisa at Ruminate This: http://www.ruminatethis.com/)
Another place I wonder if we can affect is within the blogosphere itself. After I started blogging late last year and became aware of the blogging ecosystem that rates blogs based on number of links-to, I was disheartened to find a redominance of conservative blogs online, and rated highly, though many were rather vicious (some make Rush look saintly) and/or poorly written.
The numbers have changed considerably, as my sidebar links of Lefties (Concerns of Likeminded Folks) demonstrate. Yet we still seem to be outnumbered by the Right in the rankings here: http://www.truthlaidbear.com/ecosystem.php
I’ve blogged about this a little, particularly about the absence of women bloggers in the top 50. Right now, I think the only ones are the conservative ‘A Small Victory’ (#16), Jeralyn Merritt’s excellent “Talk Left” (#19), Jeanne’s great “Body and Soul” (#24), and the conservative Rachel Lucas (#46). There are only 4 or 5 others in the top 100, all conservatives. It’s hardly an unwarranted affirmative action plan to push some more high-quality blogging gals into this realm, or to push Jeralyn and Jeanne higher. Link away !

Here’s where we get to the good part:
I know the TTLB system has flaws in its counting, while other systems are closer to the mark, putting techwomen like Meg Hourihan, Megan McArdle, Rebecca Blood and The Shifted Librarian in league with A Small Victory (all grouped from #49 to #63) and Scripty Goddess, Talkleft and Rachel Lucas (#79, #91, #95). But this isn’t the Olympics, folks…. 8 women in the first
127 isn’t because guys are more informative, amusing or prettier blog decorators. There’s so many women cranking out quality stuff that I can only think so many folks are missing because they haven’t read them yet.

I’ve tried to figure out that first sentence a few times (“…the TTLB system has flaws in its counting…”), and I guess I have to figure that Cowboy Kahlil has some divine knowledge of Truth against which he’s comparing my Ecosystem, and the others. In his crystal-clear vision, it would appear, Lefties (female Lefties, to be precise) are significantly more represented than my Ecosystem shows. (Other ranking tools are, apparently, “closer to the mark”). This is very cool stuff, this divine knowledge, and something I should have thought of long ago as a basis for the Ecosystem. I just took the wacky approach of actually, you know, counting links. Silly me.
Check your blogrolls….. of those discussing sociopolitical topics or tech topics, there’s Late Night Thoughts, Ruminate This, mousemusings, Burningbird, The Watch, MadKane, Totalitarianism Today, Mac-a-ro-nies, Moveable Beast, little red cookbook, Subterranean Homepage News, Free Pie, Sassafras, she sells sanctuary, Wampum, The Sideshow, Strangechord, by sand and sea, Space Waitress Gate A, Lisa Rein, Notes from the Atrocities, Pen-Elayne on the Web, Mighty Girl, Open Brackets, Burnt Toast, Omni-Curious, Sasha Undercover, Nurse Ratched’s Notebook, o2bee, different strings, Peevish, Magpie, But how’s the coffee?, Mirele’s Spiritual Outpost, Pissed Off Wiccan For Peace, brief intelligence, Plucky Punk’s Happy Land, Random Thoughts, Annatopia, Rayne Today, karmalised, Riba Rambles, Blaugustine, Ginger Mayerson, Civil Liberties Watch, Suburban Guerrilla, Beyond Corporate, Oops, did I say that?, Suddenly Routine, Trish Wilson and others too numerous to list here.
(I hope I didn’t mislabel any; my memory’s not perfect…. and I’m sure there’s centrists in the group, too.)

Centrists? Horrors. I thought I banned their kind. Damned fence-sitting weenies.
Many folks take The Truth Laid Bear (TTLB) ecosystem as gospel;
It’s not? Why am I wearing this damned uncomfortable cassock then?
but dangitall, there’s too few perfectly respectable women preachers that just ain’t gettin’ proper pulpit time.
To his credit, TTLB is trying to give lesser-knowns a temporary high ranking with his New Blog Showcase Contest underway. A woman’s in the lead, but a rather harsh conservative one.

And we know those harsh conservative women aren’t real women. Lesbians, all of ’em. Or, er, housewives, all of ’em. Or something. Anyway, not real women, definitely not the right kind of women. Or, um, left kind…
The Lefties trail with the last count due tomorrow morning. Though there’s no Lefty women in it, there are some great ones, which I gave examples of here:
Cattle call: Link to the Left:
http://reachm.blog-city.com/readblog.cfm?BID=91968
Missing one, I added one at the bottom of this post:
Blogger Roundup #8 for May ’03:
http://reachm.blog-city.com/readblog.cfm?BID=91554
Can we organize to give the women a higher place? Many have earned it. Can we organize on behalf of some Lefty newbies? I say we can. Even if you’re fussy with a short blogroll, I’m certain you’ll find some fine surprises you’ll be happy to add.

I thought I’d seen it all, but this is some pretty impressive stuff. Somewhere in here, I think, Kahlil sweeps right past advocating for folks to seek out new and interesting voices, and blasts right through into championing frickin’ affirmitive action for weblogs.
Am I overreacting here, or is this crazy-talk?
As for anti-liberal bias in the Ecosystem, we’ve been through this before, and I thought we put this issue to rest. Beyond dumping that huge number of liberal weblogs into the Ecosystem, what, exactly, could I do that would prove that there is no anti-liberal bias?
Help me out here, folks…

That is NOT what Mr. Pointy is for

Man tried to hijack, crash Qantas plane:
A man armed with two sharpened wooden stakes tried to hijack and crash a Qantas domestic jet with 47 passengers aboard shortly after take-off from Melbourne today, authorities said.
The 40-year-old man stabbed two flight attendants and injured two other people before he was overpowered by crew and passengers aboard QF1737. He was in custody tonight.

In response, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge announced that Sarah Michele Gellar will be banned from all flights in the United States.

Showcase: Call for Suggestions

Folks –
Wanted to throw out an open call for feedback on the Showcase and how it is operating this first week. A little early, I know, but I’m already getting suggestions in email, and I’d actually rather have them posted here in a public forum so other folks can build on / react to them.
So: What seems to work well? What doesn’t? Is the layout readable / easy to use? Are the instructions clear and easy to understand?
Don’t hold back!
I’ve been thrilled with the level of response from new bloggers. I’ve been a bit disappointed, though, in the number of links/votes being cast. One minor, but hopefully helpful thing I intend to do to hopefully encourage more linking is create a link off the main page which will provide HTML code suitable for cutting-and-pasting that contains simple lists (Blog Name: Post Title) with appropriate hyperlinks for the full list of submisssions for the week. The idea being, that way you can just cut-and-paste the whole block, delete the entries you didn’t find interesting, and be ready-to-go to just drop that into your blog tool to link to the good stuff and cast your votes.
Other comments/suggestions are welcome, so dump them here…

We now return to your regularly scheduled…

Yuck! A difficult day for many in the Blogosphere, as Hosting Matters suffered a massive outage due to a fire in their facilities. The Truth Laid Bear, along with other blogs such as that Instapundit thingy, was offline for much of the day.
Figures, just when the Showcase was getting going. Well, y’all will just have to make up for lost time and link, link, link to all those fine new bloggers now, won’t you?
-NZB

The Parade is On

OK folks, great response thus far to the Showcase!
Great response on the new-blogs side, that is: about 40 entries already for this week. As I’ve noted at the top of the Showcase itself, I strongly recommend new bloggers consider waiting for next week’s contest at this point; the competition is going to be a bit fierce this week, and I suspect things will lighten up a bit next week.
But now the other side of the equation needs to come into play: y’all got to spend a little time checking these new kids out, and cast a few link-love votes! So get to it!

My first Showcase Vote

Okay, I’ve got my first vote in the New Weblog Showcase. I’ve found a number of neat items at Tony S’s Technically Speaking., including a report that scientists believe it is now possible to wipe out mosquitos worldwide (but should they?) and a claim that websites are less likely to crash on the days that the IT department stays home (no sourcing on that one, though: might want to add a link there, Tony). And oh yeah: his submission for the week’s contest: he wants to build a media PC.

Microbes on Parade: The New Weblog Showcase

One of the criticisms (of the many) that has been leveled at the Ecosystem over time is that it tends to draw attention to exactly those bloggers who don’t need it — the ones who are already at the “top of the heap”.
In the spirit of counterbalancing that tendency, I’m happy to announce a new feature of the Ecosystem. I call it Microbes on Parade: The New Weblog Showcase.
The Showcase is a weekly contest which provides a forum for new bloggers to highlight their best work. The goal is to create a spot where new bloggers can have a chance to show off and get some wide exposure, and where established bloggers and blog-readers can come to find fresh new voices.
The contest will run weekly, beginning on Monday. From Monday through Sunday, bloggers can submit their weblogs and a sample post to be displayed on the main Showcase page. Other bloggers can then read the submitted posts, and, if they find them worthy, can “vote” by linking to the posts they like on their own blogs (just as they would with any other item they find of interest). Each morning, the daily Ecosystem scan counts how many links each submitted post has received and updates the Showcase page’s statistics. At the end of the week, a final count is taken and whatever blog has the most links to its sample post, wins!
The winning blogger will get their weblog put at the very top of the main Ecosystem listing for the week following their victory (yes, even above Glenn!) , and will subsequently be added to a running list of past winners on the main Showcase page.
More information can be found on the Showcase FAQ page. For this week’s contest, you must have started your weblog less than three months ago to be eligible. So if that describes you, go sign up!
And if you are an established blogger, I hope you’ll check back to see what the newbies are up to, and give a little link-love to those you find worthy.
Let the parade of microbes begin!

Day of Remembrance

On this Memorial Day, “thank you” seems a deeply inadequate phrase to express the debt I and we all owe to the men and women of our armed forces who have given their lives in service of this nation. While enjoying the extra day away from work, I urge everyone to at least take a moment — 3pm local time is recommended — to consider those who have fallen, and the great, imperfect, glorious, flawed and free nation for which they gave their lives.

Lileks on Trek

Lileks is riffing on Star Trek again. He’s always admitted to digging Enterprise, which baffles me, but hey, different strokes. I’m on the same page with him on the descriptions of all the other Trek incarnations, though, particularly the rather underrated DS9.
Which reminds me, one of these days I really need to get around to writing a full piece on Lexx, which became my passion over the past few months (watched the first three seasons on DVD and eagerly inching through the fourth as it is released)…

Justice for All, Except When it Might Be Confusing

Could someone who understands campaign finance reform, or more to the point, the judicial process, explain to me what the hell is going on with McCain – Feingold?
If I understand this correctly, a federal court issued a 1,600+ page ruling a little ways back basically declaring many provisions of the bill to be unconstitutional. But Monday, that very same court decided to set aside its own ruling.
Money paragraph from the LA Times:
In Monday’s ruling, two of the three judges on a special U.S. district court panel said they wanted to avoid adding further confusion to the already- complex world of political fund-raising.
Er, news flash to the court: a bit late for that.
What is the legal basis for doing such a thing? How can a court declare its findings, and then decide not to actually abide by them due to such a squishy concept as “avoiding further confusion”?
I was really hoping for some Volokh action on this one, but the boys don’t seem to have turned their attention to the issue lately. Any volunteers?
Update: The Volokh’s now have some coverage, and point to Rick Hasen’s Election Law blog for more.

So long, Buffy

So Buffy is done. Not just done, but done-done; a very different and more final state of doneness that many of my past projectmates were fond of using around status-time.
(Spoilers ahead, read at own risk)
I’d have to say the last episode was good, but waaay too rushed. I can’t believe they didn’t do a two-hour finale. Some scenes — in particular the death of one character — just flashed by in a blur, and it was only later that you realized “oh, yeah; that was it.”
But anyway. It was a great run, and I think it was indeed time to bring it to a graceful close. And I’m looking forward to Angel’s next season (it has been renewed, I hear, and with James Marsters onboard — which is doubly confusing given last night’s Buffy)…

TTLB: One Year +

Well damn. I just realized that I plain missed my one-year blogoversary.
One year ago and two days ago, I posted this, launching The Truth Laid Bear out into the Blogospheric ether. I can safely say I’ve had a blast along the way, and have no intentions of going away anytime soon. Y’all are stuck with me.
Anyway, happy blogoversary to me, I suppose…
-NZB