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Archive for August, 2005

Thursday, August 25th, 2005


Dave at The Glittering Eye has an excellent post up on determining the credibility of sources . The nature of one’s sources is a key question in the field of history and in theory at least, a budding historian should expect that their footnotes on any work they publish will receive merciless scrutiny from their peers. In practice of course, the checking is spotty to nonexistent as the embarrassing case of Michael Bellesiles proved.

Historians mostly use the honor system regarding sources and only really dig in to the footnotes when some biting yet veiled remark from another historian drives them into a mad-dog fury and they go on an academic jihad to destroy their critic’s credibility by impeaching their sources. Sometimes these bizarre historiographic grudge matches will play out in front of a live audience at conferences to the great amusement of onlookers ( My own mentor for some reason had a longstanding feud going with Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., whose name he usually prefaced with ” the wicked”). Or online, as I have seen a number of scholars, some of them well-regarded, end up being banned by H-Diplo or simply found that the moderators stop accepting their posts without extensive time-consuming redacting and editorial changes.

The stakes, seemingly so low, are actually high. Credibility once lost…is lost. You become known as a crackpot and are either ignored entirely or become something of a laughingstock. Like historians, for bloggers credibility is a quality not unlike honor – it is a coin paid out that buys you the reader’s respect.

Without credibility you might as well hang up your keyboard.

Wednesday, August 24th, 2005


Frontpagemag.com, run by conservative activist and writer David Horowitz is generally a scorched-earth, take-no-prisoners style of website. Every so often though, they take a break from bare-knuckle brawling with the radical Left and Jamie Glazov has a round-table on larger issues. This one was on African development – or rather the lack thereof- and featured some big names including Ralph Peters and Michael Radu. An excerpt from Peters:

“To remain with eastern Africa, I believe that Dr. Dalrymple is right on target when he faults tribal mindsets and inherited behavior patterns. Given that the French and Dutch just voted along tribal lines in a set of referenda on the proposed European constitution, perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised at the persistence of tribal loyalties in history-shocked societies in Africa. The tribe remains the bedrock of security. In up-country Kenya, economics traditionally have been viewed as a zero-sum game. What one tribe gains, another loses–a reasonable proposition in a cattle-raiding culture or where fertile land is scarce and water precious. Corruption–the greatest plague of all upon the developing world–comes naturally to these paternalistic societies and, as pointed out by other participants, is not viewed as corrupt in our sense. On the contrary, it is our behavior that seems unfathomable and terribly risky.

So you have these ferocious, persistent cultural inheritances that are very hard to change–there’s no formula–and natural blood loyalties that, viewed objectively, make more rational sense than the interfaith, interethnic, interracial trust acquired so painfully in North America (still far from universal even in Europe). And, around the world, I’ve seen the proof of the maxim that any society in which blood ties remain the basic principle of social and economic organization simply cannot compete in the 21st century (even in American society, those groups and regions in which blood ties remain tenacious are the least economically successful).”

Sometimes Glazov includes figures from the Left or even the far Left in these symposiums though this does not appear to be the case today.

( hat tip Milt’s File )

Wednesday, August 24th, 2005


jb expresses shock and awe.

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005


Dave reveals the terrifying truth of the Blogosphere.

My strategy has always been to shoot for quality over quantity. Frankly, its a relatively thin demographic slice of the population that cares about or would understand many of the topics about which I enjoy writing. And going for quantity as a blogger is a huge amount of work – quality, ironically, comports far better with sloth :O)

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005


I spoke to Critt Jarvis this morning on the telephone regarding a new project and also the acquisition of The New Rule-Set Project by Enterra Solution’s Stephen DeAngelis. Dr. Barnett explained the numerous advantages to this collaboration for him on his blog and for Critt’s part, he was made the new Director of Corporate Blogging. Now this is something entirely new but I expect that as striking as Critt’s title is today, in five years it will be as commonplace as a company having a Chief Information Officer or a Director of Human Resources.

Marshall McLuhan is seldom remembered these days but he was the insightful media guru who was most famous for his statement ” The medium is the message”. McLuhan left a large body of work on the fundamental relationship between media and people, thought and society and not only would he have immediately grasped the change implied in Critt’s new job but would have expected it.

New methods of communication actually re-train the mind to think somewhat differently than it did before. Socrates bemoaned the advent of literacy because texts were frozen in time, unlike rhetoricians, and people would inevitably lose their taste for the discipline of extended memorization. Joseph Pulitzer created the modern – who, what, where, sum it up in the first paragraph news frame that we are all familiar with and use to distinguish ” news” from other forms of literature. Television’s vapid mesmerization of the Baby Boomers led Newton Minow to condemn TV as a ” vast wasteland” but TV helped change how politicians and journalists behaved, how wars were fought, who exercised the right to vote and how justice is done in this country. The internet and blogging continue that cultural evolution, altering societal expectations and accelerating our decision cycle – to a certain extent, shifting our worldview.

Director of Corporate Blogging ? McLuhan would have been proud.

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