‘Blog’ is the #1 Word of the Year

Merriam-Webster Inc. has announced that “blog” is the most searched-on word from its sites:
Merriam-Webster Inc. said on Tuesday that blog, defined as “a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments and often hyperlinks,” was one of the most looked-up words on its Internet sites this year…
Springfield, Massachusetts-based Merriam-Webster compiles the list each year by taking the most researched words on its Web sites and then excluding perennials such as affect/effect and profanity.

The full list is:
1. blog
2. incumbent
3. electoral
4. insurgent
5. hurricane
6. cicada
7. peloton
8. partisan
9. sovereignty
10. defenestration

Which, of course, absolutely demands that we rise to the challenge of using all ten words in a sentence. Here’s my entry:
In 2004, while the vast peloton of the mainstream media peddled furiously onward in an electoral campaign aimed at the defenstration of incumbent President Bush, the insurgent forces of the blog world unleashed a hurricane of criticism on the media itself, plaguing Dan Rather and other liberal talking heads like a swarm of cicadas, slowly but inexorably devouring Big Media’s sovereignty as sole arbiters of Truth and exposing them as the partisan hacks we always knew them to be.
Additional suggestions welcome; leave yours in the comments!

TCS Column: We Have Met The Enemy, and They Will Be Us

I’m pleased to report that my first Tech Central Station column is now up over at TCS. I discuss the increasingly blurred border between blogs and traditional media:
These days, enjoyable sport can be had observing the ongoing battle royale between the staid defenders of traditional journalism on the one side, and the young punks known as bloggers on the other..
Look closer at the two sides, however, and you’ll find that there’s far more crossbreeding going on between these particular Capulets and Montagues than you might expect from all the hue and cry. The reality is that the line between “blogger” and “journalist” — and between “amateur” and “pro” — is already extremely fuzzy. And if you think things are blurred now: well, just wait a little while longer, because soon enough, things are going to start to really get interesting.

TTLB EcoTeam Growing

The TTLB EcoTeam is going strong, and has now swelled to ten members. Please welcome the latest additions:
Cao’s Blog
Mark A. Kilmer&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspRebel Rouser
Broken Masterpieces&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspFeste…a foolsblog
One Year Bible Blog&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspPillage Idiot
And important note: If you want to join the EcoTeam, please be sure to donate using this link, and join the team here. Quite a few folks have been getting one or the other of those steps wrong…
For more on TTLB’s participation in the Friends of Iraq challenge, see here.

Ecosystem Issues

As many of you may have noticed, the Ecosystem is having some issues over the past few days. I’m working to resolve them, but for now, please have patience. And if you know anything about debugging strange issues with MySQL indicies, please read this thread at the MySQL forums and let me know what you think…

Brokaw’s Bad Advice

Tom Brokaw has terrible advice for his chosen successor Brian Williams:
“Put your head down and do the work, and don’t read the many media critics who will be out there with commentary and criticism in the beginning. Your compact is not with them but with the audience.”
You know, I was just thinking that what network news needs is anchors who are less open and responsive to criticism.
But Brokaw’s advice is misguided on a more fundamental level: he draws an artificial distinction between “media critics” and “the audience”.
News flash: they are now one and the same (see also: blogosphere). Every viewer can be a media critic and contribute their feedback and ideas. And despite Mr. Brokaw’s counsel, Mr. Williams would serve himself, his network, and his audience well if he learned to listen…

TTLB EcoTeam Update

Please welcome the very first group of blogs to join the TTLB EcoTeam in the Spirit of America Friends of Iraq Blogger Challenge:
Stand In the Trenches
It Is What It Is
Adrian Warnock
In addition, a very special welcome and thank you to Adrian for bringing on board the support of the Blogdom of God, one of several weblog alliances whose blogrolls I host here at TTLB. I’ve put out the call to the alliances to lend their support to the Spirit of America effort, and I’m pleased to have the BoG on board!

For more on TTLB’s participation in the Friends of Iraq challenge, see here.

Spirit of America Blogger Challenge: Support the TTLB EcoTeam!

I’m pleased to announce that I have joined the Spirit of America Friends of Iraq Blogger Challenge and have formed a challenge team, The TTLB EcoTeam.
If you are unfamiliar with SoA, here’s a primer:
Spirit of America helps Americans serving in Iraq and Afghanistan assist people in need. We fulfill requests from American personnel for goods that improve the lives of local people and thus help advance freedom and peace.
We have provided school and medical supplies, sewing machines, hand tools, water barrels, clothing, soccer gear and toys in response to needs identified by American personnel. We contributed equipment to Iraqi-owned television stations to establish a better alternative to Al Jazeera. We helped Iraqi men whose arms were amputated by Saddam Hussein get a new start on life.
We provide timely and effective assistance where it is needed most on the front lines. The Wall Street Journal says,

Happy Thanksgiving

It’s a bad day to be a turkey, but a good day to be an American.
I hope all reading this are enjoying good food, good company, and good spirits (in both senses of the word). As for this bear, for the first time in many years, I am not on the road for the holiday, and instead am enjoying a quiet day at home with my beloved lady M. In an unusual twist, we may have something of an Iron Chef competition going on for our meal: M insists on attempting turkey (despite our complete lack of a clue as to how to cook one), while I, not caring much for the bird in the first place, will be preparing my specialty, Jamaican Jerk Chicken.
And if all else fails: Dominos delivers!
As for the giving thanks part, there is much to be thankful for. I am thankful for all the men and women of our armed forces who are away from home this day, putting their lives at risk to ensure a better and safer future for America and the world. And if you wish to thank them, one of Glenn’s readers has compiled a great list of ways to do just that.
I’m thankful for my family; both the one that I grew up among and my in-laws-to-be, and sorry that I can’t be with them this particular year and this particular day.
But above all, I’m thankful for my lady M; the wonderful and lovely creature who has consented to share her life with me. Whatever life brings, the sour is a bit less sour, and the sweet is that much sweeter, with her to share it with.
Have a wonderful and safe holiday, all!
Update: Not only did “the Dominos option” prove unnecessary, but we put aside my Jerk Chicken preparations to be saved for this evening’s meal. And M’s turkey turned out to be fabulous! Let the record show that not only is she lovely and intelligent (although her taste in mates may be slightly suspect), but she also cooks a mean turkey…

Blogpulse Campaign Radar 2004

I’m intrigued by the work done at Blogpulse on trends in blogger references during the 2004 political campaign. Their Campaign Radar 2004 examines blog postings for links to other blogs, and other media sites, and has a number of spiffy charts showing data such as the popularity of various topics over time and the most referenced media and blog sites. Check it out.
Hat tip: JustOneMinute

Queen of Sky: Grounded

Glenn points to Cathy Seip’s column on “the Queen of Sky”, a flight attendant who was fired for pictures posted on her blog, labelling it “politically correct prudery”.
Queen of Sky’s blog is here, and the photos in question — showing QoS in mildly suggestive poses — are here.
The problem with the photos, I think, is less that they are slightly risque (look for yourself; I’d probably not even put a “not safe for work” label on them generally). It is that, as commentors on QoS’s blog have pointed out, they were taken in her company uniform, and on a company plane.
Now I’m generally no friend to those who fire bloggers, and I try to always be a friend to pretty ladies who like taking naughty pictures. But I think I have to take exception with Glenn here; this looks less like a case of “politically correct prudery” to me, and more like a case of an employer punishing an employee for misuse of company property and deliberate abuse of the company’s image.
If QoS had stuck to naughty pictures of herself in civilian gear, I’d be behind her. Er, supporting her. Um — speaking out positively to argue on her behalf. (Whew).
But she didn’t. She quite deliberately tried to use the property (uniform and plane) and image of her employer to benefit her side business (her blog). (And yes, I know that the pictures don’t directly identify Delta, but Cathy Seip indicates in her column, “frequent flyers could tell from the route references that it was Delta”, which makes sense to me).
We also don’t seem to know anything about Delta’s side of the story. Going to Cathy’s column again, she indicates that QoS was “first suspended without pay and then fired”, so there might even have been a warning given before her termination.
At any rate, I think this is a bad case for bloggers to stand on when it comes to “blogger free speech”. It is reasonable to demand that employers don’t hold legitimately independent work done by a blogger against them at their Day Jobs. It’s not reasonable to expect our employers to permit us to use the company’s property as props in a photo shoot trading on the company image for blog profit.

Shoot Things! Blow Stuff Up!

Unsure what to get the teenagers on your Christmas list?
The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility is here to help, with their wonderful list of the top worst violent videogames:
As the holiday shopping season begins, we come together as citizens, consumers and investors concerned about the marketing of a culture of violence in a season where “peace and goodwill toward all” are principal themes. We are especially concerned about the marketing of violent entertainment, particularly violent video games, to children…
We are hopeful that with increased awareness and the empowerment of citizens, consumers and investors, the marketing of violence will decrease and the video game industry will be held accountable to create a positive system for people to enjoy age-appropriate video games.

Is there anyone who truly believes that pretending to shoot things and blow stuff up is not “age-appropriate” for teenage boys? (And not-quite-middle-aged polar bears, for that matter).
But enough talk! The list:
WORST VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES
1. Doom 3
2. Grand Theft Auto:

Dan Rather Resigns: Sort Of. But not really.

From The Associated Press, via MSNBC:
Rather to step down as CBS News anchor
Yay!
Veteran to remain with network as correspondent
Boo!
Seriously: what the hell kind of resignation is this? And no, I won’t be happy until Rather is sneaking out the back door with his coat over his head snarling “no pictures, damnit”; thanks for asking.
You have to love the AP’s lead:
Dan Rather, the hard-charging embodiment of CBS News who saw his reputation damaged by an ill-fated report on President Bush

What, Mary Mapes Turned You Down?

For bloggers, it would appear Christmas has come early this year:
In yet another management shift, CNN on Monday hired former CBS News executive Jonathan Klein to oversee its flagship network and try to narrow the prime-time ratings gap with industry leader Fox News Channel.
Yes, that would be Jonathan “[a blogger is] a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas” Klein. Who, apparently, can “understand today’s news consumers in ways never before available to media executives” — something about implanting radio transmitters in their dental fillings, I believe.
Fox News spokesman Robert Zimmerman, on the other hand, has our kind of snark:
“‘We wish CNN well on their annual executive shuffle,’ Fox spokesman Robert Zimmerman said.”
Zing! Get that man a blog — and some pajamas…

More From:

Mickey Kaus
Powerline
Roger Simon

Blogger Ethics: Would you join the club?

Nick Denton has proposed the idea of a blog ethics committee, nominating Jason Calacanis and Jeff Jarvis to lead it.
Calacanis is willing, Jeff is more skeptical of the need.
I’ll need to think more on this, but my first reactions are:
– If you’re going to have a “code of ethics” that bloggers can declare they adhere to, I would think there would also need to be an enforcement mechanism — some kind of auditing, a complaint investigation process, and finally, some method for discipline. That’s the work of more than just a handful of bloggers; that’s right back to the old ‘blogger trade association’ idea.
– As a general principle, I don’t like the idea of attempting to homogenize the blogosphere in any way; see my post on a spectrum of standards. That said, there are a few areas where I would support standardization (in methodologies for tracking traffic statistics, for instance), and I can see the potential usefulness of a neutral “seal of approval” from a trade association for bloggers marketing themselves to advertisers and even readers.
– My doubts aside, my ideal conception of a blogopshere full of diversity is also wide enough to include the idea of such a trade association / ethics committee, as long as membership is voluntary and the association doesn’t abuse its (potentially powerful) position to strongarm non-member bloggers. In other words: if some bloggers want to write down their ethics and form a club around it, that’s fine by me, as long as they don’t try to force those rules on me (or on anybody).
More thoughts later, I’m sure…

Reuters: Now Known as the Media Relations Department of Microsoft

Reuters is now apparently running Microsoft press releases as news articles, or might as well be. Check out this splendid piece on Steve Ballmer’s speech warning of the dangers that Linux poses to Asian governments:
Microsoft Corp warned Asian governments on Thursday they could face patent lawsuits for using the Linux operating system instead of its Windows software…
Linux violates more than 228 patents, according to a recent report from a research group, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said at the company’s Asian Government Leaders Forum in Singapore.
“Someday, for all countries that are entering the WTO (World Trade Organization), somebody will come and look for money owing to the rights for that intellectual property,” he added.

The article then presents evidence backing up Ballmer’s claim on 228 patent infringements.
Well, no, actually it doesn’t.
But it does provide a link to the “recent report from a research group”.
Er, actually not. Doesn’t even give the title or name the source: sorry!
But it does quote from opposing experts who provide a counterweight to Ballmer’s scary claim.
Well, I’m sure that the reporter was thinking about doing that. But, deadlines, and there’s only so much you can put in one article, y’know?
I’m blessedly ignorant on the allegations of copyright infringement against Linux — I freely admit to having absolutely no clue whether they have merit or not. But I’m fairly certain that quite a lot of folks don’t agree with Mr. Ballmer’s position. Would it have really have been that much bother for Reuters to stick a teensy weensy bit of actual reporting and/or opposing viewpoints into this story?
PS: I’m fairly sure that the “recent report from a research group” being referred to is Mitigating Linux Patent Risk (PDF), published by Open Source Risk Management, a company which plans to sell patent litigation insurance to Linux users. It took me one minute and 58 seconds of research to find the paper online. I timed it.

Iraq Will Receive 80% Debt Relief

This seems like a rather significant, and extremely positive, development:
Major economic powers agreed on Sunday to write off billions of dollars of debt for Iraq (news – web sites) in a deal that marked a significant step in U.S. efforts to help put the Iraqi economy back on its feet.
Under the agreement, the Paris Club of 19 creditor nations will write off 80 percent of the $42 billion that Iraq owes them, the group’s chairman, Jean-Pierre Jouyet said.

That still leaves eight billion outstanding, which isn’t peanuts but certainly seems a far more manageable sum.
Relieving nations emerging from dictatorship of the debts incurred by their former tyrants strikes me as solid policy from both a moral and practical sense. It is a good thing if doing business with strongmen is a risky business which might result in losing one’s investment after said strongman finds himself on the wrong side of history. Wiping out debt of this type helps Iraq get back on its feet (good for all sorts of reasons) as well as punishing the bad behavior of those who supported the regime (yes, I’m looking at you, France and Russia).
Note that the benefits of debt relief don’t apply in all cases: if a reasonably democratic and free country is simply choosing bad leaders who mismanage the treasury and economy, then debt relief doesn’t make sense, because it discourages the citizens of that nation from taking responsility for their own troubles, and encourages potentially stupid management on the theory that if it doesn’t work out, they won’t really have to pay the bills anyway.
But for Iraq: definitely. Note that there are some conditions attached:
Jouyet, at a news conference in Paris, said the debt reduction plan would work in three phases, with a first tranche of 30 percent to be written off immediately.
Another 30 percent will be canceled when Iraq agrees on a reform program with the International Monetary Fund (news – web sites) expected in 2005. The third and final tranche, representing 20 percent of Iraq’s debt to the Paris Club, will be canceled in 2008, once Iraq has completed its 3-year IMF (news – web sites) program, Jouyet said.

That IMF bit worries me a little. I’m not a finance expert by any means, but my limited understanding of the IMF’s success rate in its “programs” doesn’t make me terribly optimistic that IMF orthodoxy is the right prescription for a successful Iraqi economy.
Also, note that the 80% relief only applies to the debt owed to the “Paris Group” countries, which, according to this Reuters piece, is about 1/3 of Iraq’s total debt.