January, 2008

All Politics Is Contingent (Or Why I Have a Ron Paul Banner on my Blog)

January 16, 2008 @ 8:52 pm · Filed under Reality

I normally avoid political discussions. But, after reading Terry Chay’s post on Ron Paul, I felt compelled to post something. I sympathise with Terry’s frustration with doctrinaire libertarians. Like unreconstructed Marxists, their insistence on finding the solution to all problems in a single principle is a relic of the nineteenth century: a time when the idea of a scientific explanation of society was new enough to excuse this reductionism. Like Marxism, Libertarianism is an excusable enthusiasm in the young, but at some point we all have to grow up. As Terry points out, we have had over one hundred years of development in economics since the nineteenth century, and libertarianism ignores all of them.

In the past, I have compared Ron Paul to Cato the Younger, and I still believe the comparison apt. Like Cato, Paul has never compromised, even when it would have cost him little. It was Cicero’s judgment that Cato’s unwavering commitment to principle did as much, if not more, to destroy the Roman Republic as it contributed to the effort to save it. Similarly, Paul’s intransigence has harmed his cause even as it has led to an unprecedented (for Libertarianism) success. I have no doubt that, should Paul, by some miracle, be elected, he would be an ineffective president. Yet, despite this, as you have probably already noticed, I have a Ron Paul banner in the right-hand column of my blog.

The reason that banner is there is that I believe all politics is contingent: when the house is burning down you don’t advocate pouring on more gasoline. The United States is on a path to bankruptcy, the dollar is debased, and continued foreign interventionism is supported by every major candidate. Paul is the only candidate whose positions would do anything to address these problems. So, in the rather vain hope that he might possibly influence the future path of the country, he has my support.

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Guess This Explains The Post-Dated Email I Got From Dreamhost

January 15, 2008 @ 8:37 pm · Filed under Technology

Guess this explains the post-dated email I got from Dreamhost: $7.5 Million Billing Error at Dreamhost.

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More Evidence Newspapers Are Done

January 6, 2008 @ 12:20 pm · Filed under Reality

So, the Parade magazine that came with today’s San Francisco Chronicle has a cover story about Benazir Bhutto. Unfortunately, the magazine went to press before she was assassinated, so the story was all about how she was the U.S’s best hope against Al Qaeda, and that she was expecting to win the election on Tuesday.  Just more evidence that newspapers are completely done.

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How To Turn Twitter Into A Lame, Spam Infested Nuisance

January 5, 2008 @ 9:40 am · Filed under Technology

Dan Zarrella has a guest post on Read Write Web on how you can use Twitter to boost your social profile. I have to say that my first reaction to this idea is highly negative. Can you tell from the post title? Call me naive, but what I love about Twitter is it’s utility as a tool for increasing social interaction between real groups of people who then (sometimes) build real relationships. As Terry once said to me, “I used to always follow everyone who followed me, but now it’s too many people.” I’ve found the same. Or rather, I’ve found that the majority of people who start following me are people who I have no chance of building a connection with, because they are following 2,000 others or they are a brand. So, I don’t follow them back. That’s regrettable, because that lack of interchange is the antithesis of what Twitter is about. What saddens me is that Dan’s article (and I should really emphasize I have nothing against Dan or his advice) is a marker to me for the growing commercialization of Twitter. We are in the middle stages of what we (assuming you are old like me) already went through with Usenet, and the web itself, and blogs. You knew it had to happen, but why did it have to happen so fast?

UPDATE: Here’s an even more jaundiced view from Nate Westheimer.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Dan, the author of the piece I criticized, took the time to come here and comment on my post. So, rather than replying in the comments, I decided to add another update: Yes, Dan, I am aware that you can unfollow, but it doesn’t really address what I am talking about. My title is both a little over the top, and (more importantly) misleading, because I am not really criticizing your advice (which is actually good for it’s purposes). My reaction is driven by the realization that Twitter is becoming as commercial as the rest of the web, and it makes me a little sad. In any event, you will get to call me a hypocrite, when my guest post on MetzMash appears later this month. It’s going to be about why web content publishers should have a social networking presence.

LAST AND FINAL UPDATE: Ok. We all knew it had to end this way. I started following Dan’s Twitter.

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SF PHP Meetup

January 4, 2008 @ 5:19 pm · Filed under Technology

I went to another SF PHP Meetup last night. As always, it was highly entertaining, and well worth staying in the city until 10 PM. I love the fact that we host these at CNET now. Big thanks to Tougeron for running these meetings. As you can see from Touge’s account, Terry was in full effect (that’s a good thing). Next time, Mager should come instead of watching VT getting their ass kicked.

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Dot-com Crash in 2008

January 4, 2008 @ 1:41 pm · Filed under Technology

Greg Linden is predicting another dot-com crash in 2008. I have to agree that there’s a high possibility that he is right. I see a lot of web 2.0 companies getting funded, and I still don’t understand how they ever expect to make money. With the way the rest of the economy is stalling, it would be amazing if it didn’t hit the web.

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Vacation Reading

January 2, 2008 @ 3:26 pm · Filed under Culture

Here’s a list of the books, I read over vacation. I may do longer reviews of some them later.

The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 – by Antony Beevor. A good account of the Spanish Civil War, although biased against the Nationalists.

The Tenth Man – By Graham Greene. Not as good as The Comedians, but still good.

Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh. The sequel to Decline and Fall. Like the earlier book, not so witty after 80 years.

The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin. Trash, but good trash.

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Zed Shaw Goes Off On The Rails Community

January 1, 2008 @ 4:21 pm · Filed under Technology

Zed Shaw, the creator of Mongrel, has written an expletive-filled rant about the Ruby community. It was picked up by TechCrunch and Techmeme, and the comments have been flying. It’s a pretty amusing read. But, if I want some Ruby hate, I will stick with Terry.

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