People have been wondering where I've been. All over the place, actually, but my most recent absence has been caused in part because I was in Washington, D.C. chasing down a contribution to Bill Scher's great LiberalOasis Radio Show. He's gone to a new format where he combines his usual top-notch political commentary and interviews with segments from contributors. It's like This American Life on steroids (or participating in Major League baseball).
This week's show includes a podcast I hunted down from Congressman Roy Canunkabunk, the only Blue Dog Democrat in Massachussetts. He's acquired many accolades and been called many things while in Washington, the most recent of which is "a real piece of work." Check it out.
Also on this week's show: Sierra Club's Josh Dorner speaking about a real energy bill that's going to come out of the House, Tom Pappalardo with a very funny and nostalgic piece about 1980s computers, Dianne Bilyak with an interesting take on "Facebook" lists and WHMP's Glenn Johnson reporting from Northampton's Gay Pride day.
The show is broadcast on WHMP every Saturday at 10 a.m., and you can listen, download, or horde it at these links: (iTunes / XML feed / MP3).
I've taken to twittering the debates, although I usually keep it a secret and tweet quietly in the corner. (If you don't know Twitter, check it out, there are some fun feeds there.) So come on in and subscribe to my Twittercast. It's like listening to me rant at the TV screen, except that I don't talk nearly as much. Or better yet, get yourself an account, follow me, and we can twitter at each other.
Hey -- I've been so overwhelmed by spam in the comments that I shut them down, then turned on moderation, and now I'm just searching for a solution. So comments will be either moderated or unavailable, and my apologies to those who've tried to leave a note but been waylayed.
I'll probably put a captcha on or require registration, both options I've been avoiding, but those Russian spammers are now far too good at their job these days.
The Koufax Awards are great -- for one thing, the nominated blogs (nice, long lists of blogs in every category) are wonderful to go through to find great new blogs that one hasn't known about, and to rediscover good blogs that one has lost touch with.
I, of course, ask readers to go vote for me, either by leaving a comment over there or sending in an email to the good folks at Wampum who spend countless hours running the thing. (If you're a big reader of blogs or a big blogger, consider tipping those guys -- it's expensive to run the awards.)
Note: While it says several places at Wampum that "voting is not yet open" -- those are old notices!
That's why we urge you to contribute to your favorite liberal causes by making your online Christmas Holiday purchases through Progressive Depot. You use Progressive Depot as a gateway to the online shops (like Amazon.com) that you already use, and Progressive Depot gives a percentage of their profits to liberal causes like People for the American Way and whatnot.
If you can recover from that image (sorry, we just wanted to get your attention), Sean-Paul at The Agonist has alerted the Editors to the fact that the National Press Club has invited Jeff Gannon to speak on blogging. (They've invited Wonkette, too.)
While we would not be surprised to see Jeff Gannon hired as a neutral commentator on CNN (oops, now we've given them the idea), we join with The Agonist and many bloggers in thinking that the National Press Club panel would be incomplete without one of the fine and serious political bloggers who uncovered the Gannon story. We note that liberal response would be incomplete without some sort of petition.
The editors have two close family members who, we thankfully note, served honorably in the United States Armed Forces and did us and their country proud. They both, without the help of any senators whatsoever, enlisted -- and they never missed a day. They are among those many who made, and are making, the real sacrifices that breathe life into the great dream of liberty that is America's truest and greatest foundation.
So: To the soldiers serving, and who have served, a note of thanks. The editors consider themselves lucky: of the Burkas who have served, both Ed and Uncle Al made it back home safe. May the families of American soldiers serving today be fortunate enough to hear the knocks of their returning sons, husbands, wives and daughters on their front doors. The sooner the better.
This is why people don't try to do stuff to their websites in the middle of the week. In an attempt to fix the comments (which now take several days to post -- and then in triplicate), and to solve several problems under the hood here, we broke everything. All the comments disappeared, apparently leaving for sunnier shores. So we got them back, but in the meantime I was in a state of non-posting frenzy. My able web guru Sekimori is on the case, however, and I expect a more smoothly functioning site sometime soon.
That means comments will post more quickly, or at least, no more double posts. I may moderate comments for a while -- not my preference, but an attempt to cut down on comment spam. If I moderate comments, regulars can register with Typekey, a free service, and their comments will be automatically approved.
I would rather not moderate, but I literally get a hundred or so spam comments a day, and while I understand that the primary purposes of the internet are porn, advertising, and advertising porn, I think my site should be relatively free of all three.
I've spent the past weeks mainly catching up on deadlines at work and the like and not enough time in blogtopia (skippy, skippy, skippy ctp). I'm not promising full coverage of the RNC, but I can promise some special, excellent graphics by designer Bill Tyler that will appropriately welcome the Republicans to New York (thanks, Bill!), and as much blogging (and maybe some audioblogging) as I can fit in.
The Washington Post is holding some kind of political blog contest. The nominating period for blogs ends on September 3; voting starts later. I recommend that everyone who wants to nominate me (or anyone else) do so; I have no guarantee that one nomination will suffice to move me to the next round. Some of the guarantees: Best Democratic Party Coverage, Best Inside the Beltway, Most Original and Class Clown. (Is this for the Washington Post or a high school yearbook?)
If I can figure out to link the graphic to the Wapo, I will. In the meantime, to nominate your favorite blogs, click here. (Click on "Enter Contest.")
Moments after the beginning of a special breakfast for bloggers thrown by the Democratic National Convention Committee , members of the conventional media swarmed in and devoured the food on bloggers' plates.
"How long have you been blogging?" said a representative of AP, nibbling on a tasty croissant.
Bloggers melting under the unexpected and intense media scrutiny were glad for a respite from media attention.
"I'm absolutely glad the media so enjoys bacon," said Dave Johnson of Seeing The Forest. "I just wished they hadn't eaten my laptop."
Why wait until the Democratic Convention for convention news -- when we can make it up right now? And who better to invent the truth than you, loyal readers, you who think up comments that are often wittier than the fake news article preceding them?
So, here's the offer. Write up the funniest headline for the news I will be -- or should be -- reporting from the DNC Convention floor in two weeks, and I will write the article from the convention floor, featuring your very funny, laugh-out-loud headline, post it here, plus I will personally send you a t-shirt (or perhaps even cooler memorabilia) of the thrills, the spills, the chills and sheer eclat that occurs as the Democratic party "chooses" (or whatever it actually does to) its nominee. (Maybe a Dean delegate convention hat, even.)
So what are you waiting for? Write, people, write!
The General has realized that I (we), in his words, is (are) "a Frenchman," and so my "reportage" will not be on display on his site. Instead, look for blogging from the convention floor here and at American Street. I have promised to send the General pics of "his kinsmen" picketing and protesting outside the Fleet Center, so look for those at his place.
Yesterday was spent in a frenzy of journalistic preparation, as I zoomed all over town looking for a combat photographer's vest.
I am indebted to Kevin Hayden at The American Street and the General himself at Jesus' General for their kind permisssion to use their names, and hopefully their credit cards, to help gain credentials to the event.
Vive la France!
UPDATE: Doug Everett of Radio Parallax at KDVS-FM and I will also do a roundup of the convention on Thursday, just hours before Kerry accepts the nomination. If you haven't tuned in there (the shows are archived and available at the KDVS site, and there's a live wbecast), you should. Doug is as fine an interviewer as you're likely to find anywhere on broadcast radio. He warmly and smartly tackles politics and current events with interviews of some of the biggest names in the news and media. Plus, he does top-notch political satire.
It's hard to imagine Bill Moyers and Tom Burka with adult film star Christy Canyon between them (it's an unwanted image, isn't it?), but that's what you'll get if you tune into KDVS today at 8:00 p.m. EST, 5:00 p.m. on the West Coast. Doug Everett of Radio Parallax brought the three of us together for an evening of "unprotected radio." Doug's radio show often features excellent political satire cooked up by Doug himself, so we at OYSH are happy to be a part of it. (The Christy Canyon thing was just icing. Really.)
If you're in the Sacramento area, tune into to 90.3 FM, or, if you're anywhere else, there's a live web feed at the KDVS home page, at the top of the left-hand column. OYSH will be at the end of the show, so look for us following the tail end of Christy Canyon. So to speak.
We've got serious problems here. Moveable Type, the "personal publishing" software that keeps the site going, is going. Half the time it doesn't work -- new posts don't go up, or only go up after rebuilding (and timing out) three to four times in a row. Comments, as you all know who comment here, take about 30 seconds to post, which frequently (understandably) results in double posting. If you notice there's been some slowdown in posting (and I hope you didn't), it's because the Bush Administration isn't funny anymore. Plus, it's Clinton's fault. And maybe, just a little, it's because of these "technical problems" (read: women's troubles).
It turns out that this slowdown will happen with MT -- when it hits a certain number of posts and comments (in my case, 500 + posts and 1000+ comments), it becomes unbearably slow (and somewhat unusable). To speed it up, I have to remove part of the software (the part that removes the glut of comment spam) or just move to Expression Engine or something.
Anyone have any ideas? I know I have some readers out there that use this software and have a lot of traffic and posts, and I wonder whether they've run into this problem and come up with a fix for it.
Opinions You Should Have Newsroom Struck by Lightning; Power Surge Shorts Out Managing Editor
The newsroom was struck by lightning as recently as last Friday, shorting out the managing editor, and plunging the staff of O*Y*S*H into chaos. Scores of great stories were incinerated on the way to press.
The managing editor is being taped together with duct tape (which can fix anything, really). Barring another national disaster, we expect business to resume as usual by this evening.
On February 6, 2003, I wrote my first post, and on February 12, I wrote the first "headlines." One year later, I've had 53,000 odd visitors and 65,000 hits, over 400 entries and 800 comments, and Opinions You Should Have is "syndicated" weekly to two other sites. Technorati says I now have 143 inbound blogs and 156 inbound links, which is a long way from all-around zero last February. Plus, I got an iPod.
I have to thank the many, many people who sent me kind words, or posted them here, who linked to me or just read the satire and laughed. (For those of you who don't like me or the site, these are the people to blame.)
The first link I got was from Andrew Dimn of Byte Back, the second from Eric Tam of Antidotal, and the third was probably Jane Finch of Classless Warfare, who gave me my first real bounce from her many links and encouragement. I very quickly discovered that bloggers -- particularly, but not limited to, lefty bloggers -- make up an extremely friendly and mutually supportive community dedicated to the exchange of ideas and the advancement of political discourse, which was dying out away from the web.
I wrote to Kos early on and he took the time to give me some helpful advice back in my days at blogspot, absolutely amazing considering the volume of emails he receives. Skippy was the first truly big league blogger who said nice things and also gave me some of the Skippy Roo action. Jo Fish of Democratic Veteran, introduced me unbidden to the fantastic Tbogg, who kicked up my daily visits bigtime with his plugs. Early on Nathan of Brain Fertilizer linked to me for my humor in spite of our different politics and demonstrated the generosity of spirit that I have found everywhere in the Blogosphere. Later on, Der Kommissar of Politburo Diktat echoed that spirit; his praise was welcome. MadKane, the lovely folks at Lunaville, particularly Elvis56, who I am relieved to see hanging around the comments again, all gave me the strength to keep at it. Adam and Rick of the defunct Likely Story deserve thanks as well, and a wave to Editor Bob of the fine online journal Skreed. A special mention to Elayne Riggs, who seems to hold the lefty blogosphere together single-handedly, and whose opinion on comedy must be respected above all else, given her background with the Firesign Theater and her expertise in the field of comics. Of course, my family, for exceptional support. Victor Barall. And I have some mighty fine editors who deserve credit for quality control.
Some of the regulars around here -- Shelly, Bohemian Mama, Andante, Prometheus, NC Progressive, Dr. Banzai, Terry, A Vet, NTodd of the great-hearted Dohiyi Mir, Bryan of Dumka, Mick, Jeremy, and many others all floored me both with their loyalty and the fact that their comments were always funny, often funnier than the articles they commented on. John Isbell was a welcome guest, and I hope he still stops by. Holden Caulfield, who I have never been able to thank personally, regularly posts links ot me at Atrios unbidden, and says nice things too. Thanks to everyone who I failed, through absurd memory drain and ineptitude, to mention.
Thanks to all the new readers and to all of the old ones. There are more people to thank, but I'll never thank everyone. Everyone who ever linked to me, and everyone on my blogroll, and everyone who . . .
(This is really a lot worse than the Oscar speeches, but the music is swelling, swelling, and they're leading me offstage . . . )
The internet is people-powered, and the names listed above, and many of the names that aren't, only go to show that Blogtopia (ysctp) is filled with articulate, thoughtful and brilliant thinkers, writers, leaders, the great creative minds of this century, the populist movers and shakers of our time.
It seems a strange thing, but a computer, some software, and the internet, and this fine community, have given me hope that we can change this country for the better, and some small share of power -- to change it. That's no small thing. You really can't thank people enough for giving you hope.
Jane linked to me again today, which is as fine a gift as I can think; it's been a good day, and a fine year. The only thing that could improve upon it is when the press start calling Bush's DWI conviction a conviction, instead of an "arrest." We'll see. . . .
Update: Mr. K of Rule42 has been a great and regular commenter, and Charles of Little Green Footballs drops by to gawk, which I appreciate.
Work, Computer Failure, Horrific Winter Conspire To Keep Faux Journalist From Website
A confluence of events that could only be the work of a secret conservative cabal headed by Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch (the Axis of Weevils) has prevented the large, multidinous staff of Opinions You Should Have from fulfilling its mission of posting a new article in the past day or more.
The management apologizes for any inconvenience this has caused its fine, brilliant, winsome readers and promises an article this very evening.
Yes! I'll be contributing there every Friday! (Or, as Skippy might say, "y! ibctef!")
If you haven't checked it out, there's an amazing bunch of people over there: skippy, Jeralyn Merritt of TalkLeft, Angry Bear and Kash, Dave Johnson of Seeing The Forest, Kevin Hayden, Chuck Currie, Dave Neiwart of Orcinus, Luis Toro of Colorado Luis, Mary Ratcliff, Mark A.R. Kleiman, Digby of Hullabaloo, Jeff Alworth -- and, if you can believe it, some as-yet-to-be-named bloggers.
My host, Hosting matters, which is a fine and well-run establishment, has been subject to DOS (Denial of Service) attacks which have forced them to reconfigure their servers and move to Venezuela or something.
Hosting Matters is a great place, but they're just as susceptible to this kind of nonsense as Microsoft Corp. and any other non-Apple system. Hopefully, they've licked the problem. However, when the server is down, you can't get to me and I can't post. (Calpundit and many other fine bloggers have been in the same boat.) So if posting seems light, or spotty, this is why.
The management has no regrets. We apologize anyway.
By the way, I understand I would have gotten over two thousand hits today if it weren't for this problem, so if you all could just pretend tthat I did, I'd be much obliged.
Opinions You Should Have Unveils Startling New Look
Nausea, Unpleasant Sensations Greet Readers
The site has a new look. Those of you who care, please repoint your bookmarks to tomburka.com; the IP address listed at the old site may get flakey. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, you're probably better off.)
If anyone has linked to my archives and the links have stopped working, or generate error messages, let me know and I'll try to correct the problem. I'd also appreciate a heads up if a page looks strange in your browser. If it's just the content that's weirding you out, then everything's probably normal.
An Apology : It's not always humor you'll find here . . .
When I have the time to work up a humorous take on events, I do. When I don't, I just say what I wanted to say straight-on, without the satire. If you want more humor here (and I certainly do), try to think of the funny pieces as humor, and the straight-on pieces as "grim humor."
Like I said, this is a work in progress. (Actually, I never said that. Pretend I did.) That's why this pic is up in the left hand corner. It's also why it will only be there for a very little while. I'm sure you're all duly relieved.