Archive for October 6th, 2004

Hooray for Frassle


Don’t ya love it when some wish you wanted
to come true suddenly happens without warning or any effort on your
part? Just a couple of weeks ago we
were dreaming
that the next version
of Frassle, Shimon
‘s next-generation blogging environment, would be able to handle
graphics so that we could start using it as a personal content management
as well as an alternate blogging environment.

Last we heard from young Shimon and
his sidekick Josh
they were off to Zurich to unveil the latest iteration
of Frassle at the OSCOM conference. despite their claims to be planning
to keep keep rewriting
the code and adding features before and during the conference, we laughed
to ourselves. Free and on the loose in Europe in the full flower of fall?
October in Paris? And they expect to get any work done?

This impression was reinforced when we read Shimon’s moving
post from Notre Dame
. He was blown away by the cathedral. "Well done,"
we thought, "at least the lad will forget about that silly Frassle for
awhile." Lately we have been a bit worried about young Shimon, as his enthusiasm
for his creation has approached unhealthy obsession.

So imagine our surprise, upon doing a Google search for
an old posting on Dowbrigade News, to discover that the new Frassle beta
was up and that a
complete Frassle version of the Dowbrigade
existed COMPLETE
WITH PHOTOS. A new blogging playground to be explored! We have seen enough
demos of the system to have some idea of what we can do with it. For starters
we are going to have to completely revamp our categories, and actually
start using them! it’s about time.

So, well done, boys. Now please stop over at the Octoberfest
and get drunk on your asses before coming home.  Dowbrigade’s orders.

Style Points from the VP Debate


Appearantly the TV talking heads are calling
the VP debate a draw, while the internet pundits on both sides are declaring
their guy the clear winner, not surprising in an event less a debate
than a systematic expostulation and repetition of their platforms,
positions ad talking points. Rather than wade into the deep waters of
policy and positions, we would like to make a few observations on style
and visual impressions.

Which is a valid analytic technique, we feel, in that a
sizable percentage (a majority?) of the viewing public don’t really pay
to, couldn’t understand or simply don’t give a rat’s ass about the content
of the debate.  They are using their eyes and their instincts and
thier gut reactions to ask "Which of these guys do I like? Which of these
guys do I trust?" They
are watching the eyes, readng the gestures, taking in the posture, listening
to the timbre and tone of the voices, using all of the experience and
intuition they have developed over a lifetime of meeting people, to decide
what the two
debaters are all about.

In this arena Edwards showed off the earnest and heartwarming
folkiness he honed during years of addressing jurors in personal injury
lawsuits.  He looked pretty confident and mature, an image he slightly
undermined when he repeatedly picked up the coffee mug he was drinking
out of from the wrong side, leaving the handle sticking out into the air
the opposite side from where he had curled his hand around the ceramic.

However, he laid out his case systematically, appealed to the heart as much as the mind,
a relaxed
grace which
came through
his attentive
tilt of the head and straight but not stiff posture. When he went into
his closing statement looking the audience in the eye and declaring "You
must decide" we got the distinct impression that the riff
was only slightly tailored from the closing statement he must have given
to jurors hundreds of times to personally touch them with the importance
of their role in the process.

Cheney, on the other hand, looked increasingly hot and
bothered.  For one thing, have you ever seen a white guy as completely
white as Dick Cheney? Is he an Abino? He looks as though he was bled dry
while sleeping hanging upside down from the roof of a cave. Who does
his makeup?
Last night he made
Japanese Kabuki actors look like people of color.

Also, what’s up with the shoulder hunching? Like his "boss"
Bush, Cheney looked like he was born without a neck. Is the hunch-shouldered
look the fashion statement of the season among trendy Republicans? It
seemed ironic when Cheney declared that the Iraqui guardsmen were the
ones out there putting their own necks on the line, because his was
nowhere to be seen. At most times it looked as though his ears were resting
on his jacket lapels.

We will leave the verdict on substance to weightier minds,
but in the arena of style (an area in which we modestly claim some expertise)
it seems that Edwards was a clear winner. Yet, as we noted in a previous
, in the area of political impressions, beauty is in the eye of
the beholder.

Harvard Blogging Panel Sans Bloggers


wanted to attend an event at the JFK Jr. Forum of Harvard’s JFK School
of Government tonight with the intriguing
title: "FORUM:
IRAQ, 527s, Bloggers & Battlegrounds
" so we found
ourself circling lazily in the Great White Shark we use to tool around
to the
Red Sox out in California while we searched for a parking space. On our
third pass we found one, right on JFK Street a couple of blocks from
the School. It was a few moments before 7.

As we hurried down the street in the gathering early autumn
gloom we heard a shout out and met up with J, of j’s
, from whom we had in fact learned of the event and who
was also on her way to blog it.

The panel scheduled to discuss this topic included Shelley
Cohen, editorial page editor and political columnist at the Boston Herald,
Kennedy School professor Stephen Goldsmith;
Maxine Isaacs Bush-Cheney 2000 advisor and adjunct lecturer in public policy
at the
Kennedy School; Evan Thomas, Walter F. Mondale’s press secretary and deputy
campaign manager (1983-1984) and ubiquitous uber-pundit Joe Trippi. The moderator
Phil Sharp, director of the Institute of Politics and ex-member of Congress from
Indiana (1975-1995).

When we arrived, we found the doors locked barred and protected
by multiple layers of uniformed and undercover security. There were Cambridge
cops all over the joint. A handwritten sign on the door read "Use other

We walked down to the other doors, deeper into the Kennedy
School courtyard. Also locked. We could see the Forum through the locked
dooors.It was only half full, but there were Harvard and Cambridge Cops
all over the place, and guys with antennae growing out of their ears.
What was going on in there? Despite our knocks and plaintive looks, no
one moved to let us in.

Always up for a challenge, the Dowbrigade and his intrepid
blogging buddy j, began looking for alternative ingress. We circumnavigated
the building, catching a glimpse of the lamp-lit Charles River, and coming
up the other side of the School, facing Mt. Auburn St. As we approached
this busy street a gate was opened to allow entry of a DHL truck. Delivering
urgent diplomatic documents, no doubt. We slipped inside in its wake.

Entered the building through a mail room at the rear. Found
our way into the basement of the main building. On the stairs were posted
signs reading "Quiet! Forum in progress" so we figured we were in the
right place.

We walked up the stairs and into a couple of empty seats
like we were hurrying in from a class on the Evolution of Federal Farm
Price Support Regulations. The discussion was in full swing, such as
it was.
Half the
seats were
empty, most of the rest were filled with students or the intellectually
active elderly who frequently populate these events. We were, as far
as we could tell, the only bloggers.  Needless to say, there were
no bloggers on the panel.

Unfortunately, sneaking into the building was the most
exciting part of the entire experience.

We did get a rush when the panel agreed to a person with
a claim
we made last week
, on purely conjectural terms, that four years
of concerted registration of new voters by both parties, but particularly
the Dems, had created a segment of the electorate which was not being
registered in the opinion polls, and that therefore Kerry had a "Stealth
edge" of a few points.

Evan Thomas made the additional good point that many students
and poor voters have ONLY CELL PHONES and that without land lines are
beyond the reach of pollsters. Most are expected to vote Democratic.

talked about blogs for quite a bit, but Trippi was the only one who
had any idea of what he was talking about and what blogs really represent.
He caused the other panelist’s jaws to drop when he mentioned the fact
are no
doubt familiar with by now) that the top four bloggers combined have
more readers than the New York Times.

As one panelist said, "No wonder we feel threatened."
It is a rather remarkable statistic.  The New York Times is put
together by over a thousand workers not including the news bureaus
around the globe, and costs over a million dollars a day to produce.  Those
four bloggers work alone at their computers with no budget and two
of them even have day jobs!

Trippi did say one thing that really surprised us and
made us think. Near the end, in response to an audience question
about third parties, he predicted the rapid collapse of one of the
two major American political parties, perhaps as soon as 2008.

on the subject of questions, the panel took all of the questions from
the audience – EXCEPT THE DOWBRIGADE’S.  We were standing at the
microphone for the last 30 minutes of the event, and were standing
there still when the moderator thanked us all and sent us off into
the chilly
Cambridge night to watch he Vice-Presidential debate or the Yankees
game, or, in the case of the Dowbrigade, both.

And so we were marginalized, once again. We are sure
they recognized us as a blogger, and avoided asking for our question
for just that reason. Those old-line media guys sure are paranoid.
We were just going to ask when they planned to admit the blatant sham
of "objective"
journalism and apologize to the nation for 50 years of political pandering
and prestidigitation. (Actually, we were going to ask which candidate
would get a boost at the polls as the result of a catastrophic terrorist
attack inside the United States between now and the election).

So there you have it. A panel on Blogging without any
Bloggers on it, which tried to lock out the only bloggers who tried
to attend, and refused to recognize them when the crashed the party.
The Revolution will not be televised, but it will be blogged, and these
guys will be the first to go.