Important: Read this before sending email

Add to My Yahoo! RSS Feed


Day By Day by Chris Muir

This blog is a no-Israel-bashing zone (click for explanation)


My Amazon Wish List
(Buy me presents)




Indexed Archives

Portal (links)

Contact me

Who am I?


The diary of
Iseema bin Laden

Secret Arafat
Phone Transcripts

Greatest Hits


Letters from
Captain Steve

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More




The piece process

Once again, a subhuman bastard blew himself up in a crowd of civilians, this time, young people waiting on line to get into a nightclub in Tel Aviv.

I would like to point out that Tel Aviv is deep within the borders of Israel, fully recognized by the United Nations and the world.

This, in spite of the fact that Israel is withdrawing from Gaza.

This, in spite of the fact that Israel intends to withdraw from much of the West Bank.

This, in spite of the fact that Israel is ready to live in peace with a palestinian state, even though there has never been a palestinian state, there are a million Israeli Arabs who don't want to live in a palestinian state, and the palestinians are unwilling to allow a single Jew to live within their state—when it is created.

The palestinian peace process: It's always included pieces of Jews, and our blood.

| |

Women political bloggers

I'm updating my links page. I added a category for Women Political Bloggers. If you want to be there and are somewhere else, speak up here or in email. If you're not on my links page, and are a woman who blogs politics (doesn't have to be your only subject, just a recurring one) and want to be on that list, speak up in the comments or email me. I can't guarantee I'll blogroll you, but I sure would like to have a look around at the FemBloggers I haven't met yet.

And if anyone can think of a good name for women bloggers that won't get people laughing, leave that in the comments. Yeah, it's going to be a busy comment thread. If my Comments Police would do me the honor of deleting all off-topic posts while I'm busy watching my brother get his B.S. degree, I'd be grateful.

Here's a quick lesson on adding a link to text in Haloscan comments.

Put this before the words in your link: <a href="">THIS IS THE TEXT FOR YOUR LINK</a>

The text above would actually look like this if it were a real link (please don't click it; it's not real):


Do not forget to close the link with the </a>, or you will have no link. Case doesn't matter. You can cut and past that line and replace it with your blog URL.

Go to it, girls.

| |



Jew news catch-up

Yeah, yeah, I know. Two whole days without any Jew news, whatever did you do while I was busy with other things? (You know, Omri and Mark and a host of other people can fill that need for you.)

So put up a poster featuring Arafat's uncle meeting Hitler: The palestinian student society at Hunter College puts up a poster that equates the victims of Nazis with Nazis themselves; Jewish students object, the pals refuse to take down the poster. See the subhead for this item, kids. Get proactive.

When divestment equals anti-Semitism: So let me get this straight. In the last few months, peace between Israel and the palestinians has never looked closer. Israel is about to pull all the Jews out of Gaza and several West Bank towns, risking civil war. She has stopped the policy of razing the homes of suicide bombers. She's getting ready to give up the Philadelphi corridor at great risk to herself. So what does the World Council of Churches do? Why, it urges its member churches to follow in the footsteps of the Presybterians, and divest from companies that do business with Israel. I have some questions:

Do you asshats read the news at all, or are your head so far up your asses that it doesn't matter what Israel does, you're going to recommend strangling her economically?

WTF is wrong with these people? ISRAEL IS DOING EVERYTHING THEY WANT, AND THEY STILL call for divestment.

Whoops, there I go again, doing that unfeminine political argument thing. I'm so sorry; I'll try to control myself. Or not. (Hat tip: Ubiquitous emailer, Joel G.)

Pat Buchanan blames the Joooos! for Hariri: So read through this piece, and stop at the next-to-last paragraph, and you tell me who he's blaming. It ain't the Presbyterians.

Palestinians kill each other, part the millionth: Yeah, it's gonna be really peaceful when the IDF gets out of Dodge. There's a new sheriff in town. (Run. Really. Now.)

Okay. I'm outta here. The graduation ceremony was postponed from today until tomorrow. Cross your fingers that it doesn't get canceled due to snow.

| |

Family pride

I'm in New Jersey, sitting across from my mother as she plays computer card games on her new HP zd5000, stealing her phone cord so I can piggyback on her (sigh) AOL account. That's why I've been so silent today; housecleaning morning, travel day, visit with my friends Kim and Bob (she of the Bunny That Humps the World fame, and yes, he did while I was there) for the evening, and up to Mom's for the overnight. Because tomorrow, weather permitting, we're watching my baby brother (he hates it when I call him that) graduate from college.

Many years ago, we both attended Montclair State College. For two years, we both wrote for and edited the college newspaper, spent Wednesday nights with the rest of the staff staying up until dawn putting the paper to bed, partied together, hung out together, did a whole lot of things together. But then Dave decided he wanted to move out, and that he'd rather work full-time and go off on his own than stay at home with our father. So he put his college career on hold as he worked his way up from night watchman at ADP to running tapes overnight to working tech support and then installing and troubleshooting print systems and even working at my old typesetting firm, where, when asked if I was his sister, he'd say, "No, never heard of her." Yeah, Dave always was a wise guy, and yes, he did admit we're related.

Three years ago, he moved over what credits he could and started on a program to get his B.S. degree in computers. He's graduating with a much higher GPA than I had in college, and will be starting a new career. We're all very proud of him, including his fourteen-year-old son, who thinks it's pretty cool what his dad is doing.

So, if the snowstorm isn't too bad, we're going to watch my brother graduate, then we're going out to dinner to celebrate, and then we'll have a big family dinner on Friday night, just like old times, to celebrate some more.

Congratulations, Dave.

| |

Absent with an explanation

I'll try to find some time tomorrow to run at least a mini-linkfest to the women political blogger issue. (See the post above for my lack of time.) There are two in particular that are so funny they cry out to be shared. Oh, hell, go to Trish Wilson's post and link around from there. Then there's Patti's post, which is a great example of why her blog is under "Hidden Gems" on my links page. Please feel free to add more links in the comments to this post.

This subject is far from over. I just need to get back home between trips (it's a busy few weeks for me; I'm out to San Diego for more family fun on March 2nd). But I have a few ideas for the future of women and blogging that I need to think about before I can write them.

| |



Just the facts, Ma'am

There appear to be a couple of common themes about my post from yesterday. Let me see if I can construct the arguments.

  1. Kevin's post is a blog post, not a scholarly treatise. Who cares about the facts?
  2. Besides, you only found factual data that proved Kevin was right.
  3. Anyway, where are the rest of your facts, if you're so hot about facts? You only cited one survey, who cares if it was Pew?
  4. Oh, and by the way, you have no evidence to support your rebuttal.

It seems I need to boil down what was said into shorter sentences and paragraphs. Let's try it this way.

Kevin says: Why aren't there more women political bloggers? There aren't many in the top 30 of NZ Bear's Ecosystem. Is it because high-traffic male bloggers don't link them, or because women don't like to write opinion pieces? It must be because women don't like arguing politics on weblogs, because women don't like to argue the way men do.

Meryl says: There are plenty of women political bloggers. The Ecosystem is not a valid survey of the entire Blogosphere. It is only one small sample analysis, here are some others. Women don't get linked by high-traffic male bloggers. That would be why we don't show up in the top 30 of the Ecosystem. Here is a study showing there are more men than women blogging, which also affects the numbers. Don't make broad-based statements without facts to back them up.

Blog ranking devices are aggregators. They collect links from blogs to blogs. Some of them weight the links, some of them put out raw data. But they track who is linking to whom, and how often. The mere fact that so few women political bloggers are showing up in the Ecosystem begs the question: Is anyone linking to them? The question is not whether women political bloggers exist. The question is, why aren't the big boys linking to them? If they were getting linked more often, they'd be higher in the Ecosystem, wouldn't they? And in Technorati. And Blogstreet. And Daypop.

Kevin raised this question, and then dismissed it. He went on to declare that the reason there are so few women political bloggers in the Ecosystem is because women don't like the "food fight nature" of political blogging. In his post about not linking to women political bloggers, he named, but did not at first link, women political bloggers, as well as failing to include Michele Catalano at all. Let's play Spot The Irony, shall we?

The fact that there are more men than women blogging is definitely a factor in this issue. But when the women are there, and are ignored, well, the ranking systems only track blogs that are actually linked. If the men aren't linking, women aren't going to be high on the ranking systems.

As a for-instance, check out James Joyner's Beltway Traffic Jam. Time for another game: Let's play Find The Woman Blogger in the lists he recommends, not the ones that link themselves via trackbacks. I found one in six posts, with about five to seven links per post, over the last three weeks.

Why is it, again, that there aren't more women political bloggers on the Ecosystem?

Lastly, my emphasis on the lack of facts in Kevin's post yesterday was due to the incredible arrogance of his proclaiming the reason behind the problem without doing more than checking one (incredibly narrow) source, putting out an "I think it's this" post, and backing it up with zero evidence. Blogging may be an off-the-cuff sport, but you are supposed to have some basis in fact for your suppositions. That is, after all, the essence of essay writing, which is what makes up the Op-Ed pages' content—which is what political blogging is based on.

But Kevin caps it all with his response:

Hmmm, should I defend myself? Only to this extent: the reason I suggested that women are turned off by the "fundamental viciousness" of blogging and opinion writing is because many women have told me this (and have told me the same thing in non-blogging contexts as well). Men are so routinely dismissive of women and so fundamentally dedicated to playground dominance games that many women decide they just don't want to play.

But hey — click the links and decide for yourself. My critics certainly make a spirited — if anecdotal — case for the proposition that women have no problem being as nasty as men.

Let's see if I can translate this:

  1. How dare women use anecdotal evidence to oppose my anecdotal evidence?
  2. Men are dismissive of women. Pardon me while I dismiss women political bloggers.
  3. Oh, look. Women can argue politics like men. Who knew?

You know, if the condescension and hypocrisy were any thicker, he'd be asking us to get him a cup of coffee.

Get your own damned coffee.

| |



Women and political blogging: Fact check on aisle two, please

Kevin Drum has brought up the question of women and political opinion. It is a question that is brought up every few months. I've mentioned it on more than one occasion, and generally duck the issue now because it is rather tiring to repeat yourself. This time, though, we have a whole new angle. My question to the boys: On what do you base your theory? There isn't an ounce of valid statistical analysis behind your opinions on why there aren't more women in the top of the blogosphere.

For starters, it doesn't appear to be primarily the fault of journalistic gatekeepers, as it is in some other professions. The New York Times has a female editorial page editor, and so did the LA Times until Kinsely took over. That didn't stop their op-ed pages from being heavily male dominated. What's more, the news pages of major newspapers have plenty of female reporters.

Let's look at the statistical science behind that graf. Two major newspapers had female editorial page editors, their pages were heavily dominated by male opinion writers; ergo, it isn't the fault of the editorial page editors. To back that up, we have this fact-laden statement:

What's more, the news pages of major newspapers have plenty of female reporters.

Pardon me while I stand back and admire the brilliance of this well-researched fact.

The political blogosphere provides another clue. Although its geeky Usenet roots were (and are) testosterone laden affairs, there are still no formal barriers to entry here, no old boys club in the usual meaning of the word. Yet if you take a look at the Blogosphere Ecosystem, which for all its faults is probably the closest thing we have to a consensus measure of popularity for political blogs, you will find exactly three women in the top 30: Michelle Malkin, La Shawn Barber, and Michele Catalano. (There are a few group blogs in the top 30, but those are very heavily male dominated too.)

Now we get into some actual facts. However, the fact that Kevin did not at first include Michele Catalano (cofounder of The Command Post, one of those "male-dominated group blogs") or link the female bloggers he mentioned at first is important. Bear that in mind for later.

That's a grand total of 10% of the most popular political blogs. And to gaze even more deeply into our collective navel, that 10% is 100% conservative. On the liberal side, Wonkette weighs in at #33 and TalkLeft at #48 — and that's it for liberal women in the top 100, unless I've missed someone.

So that's a grand total of one statistical check of one way of measuring blog popularity, in spite of the fact that there is more than one weblog measuring system out there. (And ooh, sorry Kev, but your post is on the way out of the Daypop Top 40.)

The scholarship behind Drum's thesis simply boggles the mind. Why, it's as if he took all of five minutes to think about the issue before he wrote his post. But wait, it gets better: James Joyner, another male political blogger, has read Kevin's post and declared that It Is Good.

Kevin Drum weighs in with a thoughtful response, observing that the trend seems to have replicated itself in the blogosphere.

A "thoughtful" response, he says. He then goes on to repeat the deft statistical analysis of NZ Bear's ecosystem quoted above. So Joyner, too, is on board with the amazing research ability of Popular Political Male Blogger, Kevin Drum. And then we get to the meat of the matter. Drum says:

So what's up? There aren't any institutional barriers in the traditional sense of the word, which means either (a) there are fewer female political bloggers and thus fewer in the top 30, or (b) there are plenty of women who blog about politics but they don't get a lot of traffic or links from high-traffic male bloggers.

My guess is that it's a bit of both, and the proximate reason is that men are more comfortable with the food fight nature of opinion writing — both writing it and reading it. Since I don't wish to suffer the fate of Larry Summers I'll refrain from speculating on deep causes — it might be social, cultural, genetic, or Martian mind rays for all I know — but I imagine that the fundamental viciousness and self aggrandizement inherent in opinion writing turns off a lot of women.

Joyner says:

It's as good a reason I can come up with.

And the men have spoken. They have researched their hypothesis, they have found statistics to back it up, they have given examples, and they have published it. Women of the blogosphere, you have been informed as to why your numbers are so low in the NZ Bear Ecosystem. No, wait. You have been told why your numbers are so low in the political blogging sphere. No, wait. You have been told why your numbers are so low on the Op-Ed pages of America's newspapers. (Isn't that how this whole thing began?) Actually, you've been told why two male political bloggers, one liberal, one conservative, think that women are not more represented in the Ecosystem. It's because you don't like to argue politics. It's nasty, and vicious, and mean, and, like, totally unfeminine, girls. Ya know what I mean?

Well, let's do a little factual research, shall we? Five minutes on Google gave me more than a few resources that actually study statistics and analzye trends. In fact, there's even a study on blogs that was released last month. (How quickly we forget!) The salient points of the study:

Blog creators are more likely to be:
• Men: 57% are male
• Young: 48% are under age 30
• Broadband users: 70% have broadband at home
• Internet veterans: 82% have been online for six years or more
• Relatively well off financially: 42% live in households earning over $50,000
• Well educated: 39% have college or graduate degrees

So there, in a single click, Drum or Joyner could have actually used, you know, facts to back up their opinions. Of course, then we're still into sheer opinion territory for the answer to why there are fewer women political bloggers. Oh, wait, no, we're not. Numerically, there are more men than women bloggers and blog readers. That might actually be a factor in the equation.

Another factor might be the paucity of high-traffic male polibloggers actually linking regularly to female political bloggers.

As to the rest of the reasoning: That women don't like the knock-down, drag-out nature of opinion writing that Drum says is

the proximate reason is that men are more comfortable with the food fight nature of opinion writing — both writing it and reading it.

And Joyner says is

It's as good a reason I can come up with.

And Yourish says: That's a whole 'nother post in itself, which I will get to later. But as to the food fight nature of opinion writing: I've got three words for the boys.

Bring. It. On.

| |



Oh, here we we go again: Women and political blogging

A (female) blogger sent me this link to Kevin Drum being an idiot (yes, I know, he is often an idiot, but this time, it's personal—he mentioned women bloggers). In the comments are even more people being idiots. It's the old, tired, "Why aren't there more women bloggers in the top 10/20/30 blogs of the Ecosystem/Technorati/NameYourRatingSystem? Why don't more women write about politics?"

Well, I'm getting ready to go meet a woman and two girls at a rock climbing gym for a couple of hours of non-feminine athletic entertainment. I think while we're there, though, we'll be sure to belch and adjust our crotches, just to make sure it's okay to do what is generally thought of (by the layman, anyway) as a man's sport.

Little-known fact: The climber who is considered the world's best is—drum roll, please—a woman. Oh, yeah, the fastest climber in the world is a woman, too. In fact, there are many women climbers, and they're known throughout the sport, possibly because climbers don't give a damn if you're male or female. They only care whether or not you can climb.

Perhaps it isn't that there aren't many women political writers. Perhaps the boys' network simply refuses to notice them. I don't know; I'm not going to get into that right now. I have some rock walls to conquer.

Okay, really not going to do the crotch thing. I always hate when guys do it. But I think we're still gonna let off a few belches.

Update: Washington Monthly readers, scroll up for a more detailed deconstruction of Kevin's post.

| |

Other people's words

It's all about me: Via Allison, Chez Miscarriage on selfish women. (It's a must-read.)

Oh, that's where he went: Gil has given us our poster boy for International Eat an Animal for PETA Day. In fact, Gil is our poster boy. (Any time you want to give up those hot young things and take up with a sophisticated older woman, you let me know, sweetie.) Via Silent Running, where Wind Rider simply is not doing his job if he didn't give me a heads-up on this one. Boy, he's slacked off since he left the service.

Fear and loathing in Aspen: Hunter S. Thompson shot himself.

Aaaaand it's back! The AP has been using this photo every single effing day for a week in every story on the Gaza pullout. When I didn't see it in Saturday's Sharon story, I knew I just had to wait a while longer and it would return. This is a job for CAMERA. And someone who can access the AP online library. I should have taken screenshots of them all, but who knew that AP would run the same friggin' photo over and over and over again?

Update 2/21: And here it is again, in a story on Israel releasing palestinian prisoners. It's the picture that Will. Not. Die.

Updated 2/22: Here are all the instances of AP articles with the picture. Feb. 17. Feb. 19. Feb 21. Feb. 22.

To cleanse the palate: And now, a Fun Food Fact, something I was trying to get going into a regular feature, but which I was too lazy to do. But since we're coming up on IEAPD, here we go. From Why Does Popcorn Pop? and 201 other fascinating facts about food:

What is a capon?
A capon is a rooster castrated while young. But why did they start castrating roosters in the first place?

Roman law limited the number of roosters and hens that could be eaten, lest the citizens should overindulge. Not to restrict their feasting because of some silly law, the Romans sidestepped it on a technicality. By castrating the rooster and creating the capon, they could continue in their chicken gluttony.

The act of castration causes a hormonal change to occur in the bird. This results in the development of fatty layers within its muscles and a marbling unique to the capon. Capons today are full breasted, meaty, and tender, weighing between four and seven pounds, with succulent meat.

Mm, capon. Perhaps I'll have that for IEAPD.

| |



Ynet: Israel's biggest web news group is now in English

Now I may never catch up on my Hebrew. Ynet is available in English. They're currently in beta, and they even have a blog (it's Corner-like, no comments). This is from the blog:

Who's the man?

Throughout his career, Prime Minster Ariel Sharon has made a name for himself as a tough, uncompromising fighter who does not shy away from confrontation. Yet for Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, this is apparently not enough. In fact, the rabbi wants to see a stronger figure leading Israel, and he has just the right prototype in mind - U.S. President George W. Bush. Hmmm...Arguing that Sharon isn't a strong leader is like saying Saddam Hussein isn't evil enough. (Yigal)

The blog is great. The blog is great. Let me repeat: The blog is great! Here's one tip for the Ynet people: Give us individual anchors (links) to each entry, folks. It's not really a blog without them.

There's also a Jewish superhero comic. You'll like this one, Jim.

And of course, there's plenty of opinion. You know the saying: Two Jews, three opinions.

While the Jerusalem Post and Ha'aretz are both interesting reads, they're minor papers in Israel. Yedioth Ahranoth is the big one, and Ynet is run by the same folks. It will be on my daily reading list. Bookmark it, folks. The blog alone is going to be worth it. It's a little slow, but hey—it's Ynet in English! I don't have to rely on translators anymore.

Hat tip: Dave.

| |


Tig and GracieIt's a three-day weekend. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a shopping holiday. It's the consolidation of what used to be two holidays, Lincoln's birthday (Feb. 12th) and Washington's birthday (Feb. 22nd). I think in honor of their birthdays, I'm going to knock off serious blogging and simply catblog.

Or sing happy birthday to our two most famous presidents.

Kittyblogging. I can carry a tune, but that's about it.

So this is a shot from earlier this month, when it was near 70 out. The cats decided to sit on the air conditioning unit. Actually, the order was this: Gracie decided to sit on the unit. I went over to pet her. Tig saw that I was petting Gracie, so he leaped up onto the unit, too. Then, by virtue of his big fat ass, he tried to hog the entire unit and get her to move. She refused. I went in to get the camera for this rare, two-cat shot (they almost never stay near each other outdoors). I managed to get it before they decided it was time to move.

Lynn B. and I were chatting the other day, and I told her that I'd brought my digital camera to Best Buy to get it fixed (got the extended warranty, so I'm getting my money's worth). I have no digital camera. "You mean," she gasped, "you're posting archive pictures?"

Well, no, not exactly. They aren't recent as in "I took them today," but they're recent as in the last month or two. Geez, you'd have thought I tried to put a trunk story into Clarion* or something, judging by that reaction.

Tig is currently napping on the kitchen chair again (see this picture from last week for reference). He no longer seems to want to nap upstairs. He wants to be near me during naptime. Regular naptime is, let's see: Early afternoon, late afternoon, early evening, late evening, oh, and occasionally, late morning. Notice that the only naptime that is missing would be when I am sleeping. The best naptime of all, of course, is when I get tired and head upstairs for an hour or two. I sleep surrounded by napping kitties, who sometimes snore. But then, I sometimes snore, so I guess it all evens out.

Gracie, on the other hand, is asleep in my bed after spending most of the afternoon playing Cat. There are two kinds of cats: There are cats, like Tig is usually, and there are Cats, which is Princess Gracie's usual designation. She played the "I want to go out/no I don't/yes I do/no I don't/yes I do" game for about an hour. She yowled constantly for attention. Whenever I made a move to open the patio door, she ran away. When I called her, she yowled but would not come near. When I went into the bathroom, she leaped onto the sink (her petting place) and yowled for attention. All the time this was going on, Tig was napping on the sofa. Mind you, Tig is a pain in the ass, too, but they tag-team me. Gracie is the Daytime Pain. Tig is the Nightime Pain. Together, they manage to make me wonder exactly why it is I want cats.

But then I come home from somewhere after having been gone all day, and Tig runs down the stairs, blinking the sleep out of his eyes and mrowing for attention. Or Gracie leaps onto the bed when I come out of the shower and rolls over for a bellyrub, purring that deep, throaty purr and reminding me that I nearly lost her to asthma** years ago. Or they simply give me that eyes-half-closed look of adoration, and I remember: Oh, yeah. That's why I have cats.

(*Remind me to tell you about this sometime. **This, too.)

| |


Last week's blogs are archived. Looking for the Buffy Blogburst Index? Here's Israel vs. the world. Here's the Blogathon. The Superhero Dating Ratings are here. If you're looking for something funny, try the Hulk's solution to the Middle East conflict, or Yasser Arafat Secret Phone Transcripts. Iseema bin Laden's diary is also a good bet if you've never been here before.