Saturday, January 3, 2004
Being Andrew Sullivan on the weekend
I'm feeling about as articulate as this guest-blogger, so no Behind the Blog entry for today.
This weekend, however, there will be an extra-special guest post.
Friday, January 2, 2004
Being Andrew Sullivan -- day four
Sometime in the morning: Sisu e-mails me this:
Midday: Is double-blogging exhausting? I've received several e-mail queries on this, and my last post might have hinted that the stress of it was getting to me.
Today disproves that hypothesis. What was stressing me out were the myriad technical problems. Blogger worked without a hitch, and I feel fine. I'm not in hyper-blog mode, so I focus mostly on foreign policy-related matters.
The ag subsidies and multilateralism posts are easy to compose because they touch on familiar themes in my writings. On the multilateral post, I hesitate on whether to link to my old TNR essay. It was written nearly a year ago, and it holds up pretty well, but then there's this sentence:
In light of stories like this one, prose like that makes me wince a little.
This is one of the downsides of writing a lot -- the overwhelming amount of stuff I'm going to get wrong.
1:00 PM: I've been spending a lot of time on-line in the past few months, and with the New Year I wonder if I should resolve to cut back. Then I see a link to the "Are You A Blogaholic?" quiz. Taking it, I get 60 out of 100, which is more than fifteen points above the mean. Nevertheless, I get this message:
I start to wonder if this quiz is the functional equivalent an online "Are you an Alcoholic?" quiz -- hosted by Jose Cuervo.
11:00 PM: Despite several hours of concentrated effort, I can think of no valid reason to mention Salma Hayek on the Daily Dish.
Wednesday, December 31, 2003
Being Andrew Sullivan on New Year's Eve
Morning: The Blogger follies continue. I can't access Blogger's main page at home. I go to the office, and try again -- but nothing happens. I try accessing Oxblog and I get the classic "page cannot be displayed" link. Same with every other blogspot page.
Shrugging my shoulders, I knock on Jacob Levy's office and give him the Blogger lament. He tries to log on and succeeds without a hitch.
I eye him and his computer coldly. No one else is in today. Who would really miss Jacob? True, his office is not as messy as the story he linked to. It's not among the six messiest offices in the University of Chicago. But it's messy enough for him to be "lost."
I snap back to reality and try the machines in the student computer cluster. Sure enough, I'm able to log on without a hitch. I quickly cut and paste my two posts for the day.
Afternoon: After a few days of being Andrew Sullivan, I intuitively sense he'd drink a fair amount on New Year's Eve. I go purchase alcohol.
I have a strong hunch that Andrew Sullivan will have a late morning tomorrow as well.
Really, I'm not being lazy
I'm shocked to report this fact.
UPDATE: Something screwy is still going on, but I've found a way around the problem.
Being Andrew Sullivan -- day two
Early this morning: I’m chagrined to see this morning that although Blogger says everything is hunky dory with my posts, I can’t see them on the public website – which is what led to the post below.
Chagrined is too weak a word – I’m freaking out. If I break a glass in my house, I’m slightly annoyed. If I break a glass at someone else’s house, I’m mortified beyond belief [So, um, how often do you go on glass-breaking binges?—ed. Come closer and find out]. Andrew’s been generous enough to loan me a valuable piece of real estate on the web, and it appears as though I’m letting my dog piss all over his lawn.
A few e-mails and calls later, the source of the problem is identified – andrewsullivan.com is being upgraded to a new server, and the transition is proving to be a bit bumpy. The remote DNS servers around the web are taking their own sweet time to process the change in IP addresses. So, it’s not my fault (relief). It's not Blogger's fault either (surprise).
I see Josh Marshall taking Dean to task, and decide it’s worth posting. Dr. Dean is beginning to remind me of a scene from The West Wing when President Bartlett dealing with the fallout from concealing is case of remitting, relapsing multiple sclerosis. He admits to his press secretary that he never revealed his condition because he never thought he was going to win, so why bother? I've got to think there's a part of Dean that's shocked about being the front-runner.
I’ll admit to some reluctance about going after Dean too much, however. I’ve been hitting him pretty hard as of late, even though I defended the candidate over the summer. It’s not that I disagree with anything I’ve posted. It’s just that there are diminishing marginal returns to this kind of criticism, and I don’t want to sound like a broken record. Plus, Dean’s still got the nomination locked up – and if/when he wins, expect to see a passel of stories about how he’s acquired an invulnerability to media criticism.
11:00 AM: I get a bunch of e-mail in response to my political predictions post saying that a Yale economics professor, Ray Fair, had the 2000 race as close to even. I consider amending the post, but then I see that his 2004 model has George W. Bush winning 58.3% of the vote in November. That seems a tad high to me, even if Howard Dean is the nominee. I make a mental note to single Fair out if I'm wrong, though.
2:00 PM: One of the most useful articles in political science is a 1984 American Journal of Political Science essay by Mathew D. McCubbins and Thomas Schwartz entitled: "Congressional Oversight Overlooked: Police Patrols versus Fire Alarms," McCubbins and Schwartz's argument is that actors who seek information can gather it in two ways: actively seeking it through aggressive searches (police patrols) or trusting interested parties to get the information to you (fire alarms).
Going through the e-mail, there’s no question that big blogs attract a lot of fire alarms in the form of e-mail links. Does this make it easier for big blogs? Yes and no. There’s some good nuggets of information – the links to the Michigan and Conference Board projections for 2004 came from an e-mail. However, there’s a hell of a lot of chaff to go through as well.
On this post, I also link to the Easterbrook book, but I'll admit to wavering. I've been a big fan of Easterbrook's policy analysis in the past, particularly this TNR essay that's a key component of the new book. Last week, however, I made the mistake of linking to an Easterbrook post about the environment when it turned out he'd screwed up an important fact (he has yet to correct it). In this case, however, he appears to be standing on the shoulders of other researchers, so I go with it.
5:00 PM: Ashcroft recuses himself from the Plame investigation. Post on it or take son to bookstore? Survey says... bookstore!!
Tuesday, December 30, 2003
Tech types -- any explanation?
UPDATE: OK, this is apparently a function of a change in servers. Thanks to all for responding -- especially Mark Petrovic.
Monday, December 29, 2003
Being Andrew Sullivan -- Day 1
Because these are going to pretty long (and potentially boring) posts, I'm using the extended entry feature:
Midnight: I log onto Andrew’s account to start posting (I'd written my introduction in advance). Immediately the imp within me starts whispering, “Hey, you could do anything you want. Change the background color to chartreuse! You're the king of the world! Go wild!!” It’s taken me multiple decades to get a grip on that part of my personality, and I successfully throttle down the urge.
After five months of getting comfortable with Movable Type, it’s back to my old Blogger software for the Daily Dish (cue acoustic guitar). I approach it warily, like an old girlfriend after a bad break-up. With apologies to Paul Simon:
Hello Blogger, my old friend
And the people bowed and prayed
Seriously, the one downside of MT I’ve noticed is that I don’t bother with quick-link posts – probably because, in the back of my mind, it seems ridiculous to create a new web page for a two sentence post. In terms of the linker/thinker divide, MT leads me to fewer of the former.
So I’m delighted to see Robert Tagorda’s clean post about Dean – because it makes a trenchant point and all I have to do is write one sentence. Post one down. [Why didn't you link to Pejmanesque as well?--ed. Because Tagorda had the contrasting quotes, and linked to Pejman already. I'm sure Yousefzadeh will take it in stride.]
Hmm… what else to write about? There’s the Iranian earthquake – except that there’s nothing to write about except some variation of “It’s horrible.” P.J. O’Rourke, in his introduction to my all-time favorite travel book, Holidays in Hell, pointed out that phenomena like earthquakes, floods, and mudslides are simply the opposite of tourist sightseeing – yes, very sad, but what else is there to say? In this case, even charity links won’t necessarily do much good, as Bam doesn’t appear to need any supplies – the damage has been done.
Bob Herbert’s column? Oh, it's so tempting – this is the sort of half-assed, squishy writing reminiscent of old-school NYT op-ed contributors (Rosenthal, Lewis, Rich) and worth ripping on a regular basis. Even if one accepts Herbert's premise (I don't), if he had done any research, he might have realized that there are some tangible proposals for what he wants done. But I’ve blogged about this too recently… don’t want to sound like a broken record.
I notice the LAT and WaPo stories, which dovetail each other nicely. However, I’m not entirely sure how to frame the post. Worry that the administration is screwing up? Intrigue at Brent Scowcroft’s preference to stick it out? I decide to sleep on it.
9:00 AM: I wake up and post on the LAT/WaPo stories, but frankly, I don’t think I quite nailed it. Occasionally this happens – too many ideas to mold into just a few paragraphs.
I click over to Slate’s Today’s Papers feature and see the mention of the NYT Halliburton story. Eric Umansky was harsh on the Times:
I’ve been making the argument that the Halliburton contracts are not evidence of either systemic corruption or specific corruption for some time, so it’s nice to see the Times come to the same conclusion. I post it.
10:00 AM: I log onto the Daily Dish’s AOL account to check mail. 150 new messages await me. Admittedly, 50 of them are offering me glimpses of Paris Hilton’s sex tape, but that’s still a lot in twelve hours. One of the e-mails mentions the AFA poll about gay marriage. I’ve only posted about this topic once on my site. But it’s a good, counterintuitive story, and I remember Eugene Volokh’s post from last Friday. Plus, I figure Daily Dish readers would go into withdrawal if the topic is not mentioned once. Up it goes.
10:30 AM. Let’s log on and see how things are going…. Wait, why can’t I access the Daily Dish? It’s down! Ahh!!!! I f@#$%ed up somehow!! In less than twelve hours, I’ve single-handedly destroyed Andrew Sullivan’s site!! DAMN YOU BLOGGER!!! DAMN YOU TO HELL!!!!
10:40 AM: After much gnashing of teeth and a little jiggering, Blogger starts working again. Respiration and cardiac activity return to normal.
Blogger sucks. I decide for the rest of the week to compose on my own blog and then cut and paste onto the Daily Dish.
11:30 AM: I go out for groceries with my son, who’s day care center is closed for the week. No one at the store goes, “Hey, that’s Dan Drezner!! He’s subbing for Sullivan this week!” I realize this is because:
a) These people have lives.
b) Since Richard Posner, Gary Becker, John Mearsheimer, Cass Sunstein, and Martha Nussbaum shop there too, I'm pretty small beer.
Sunday, December 28, 2003
And now for something completely different...
Does that mean no new content on this blog until 2004? Not exactly.
Inspired by Slate's Diary series, ESPN's "This is Sportscenter" documentary from the summer, and the stereotype of bloggers as "self-important," I'll be posting here on the behind-the-scenes thinking that go into guest-blogging. Why did I post on this topic but not that topic? What's it like to have the big megaphone? And other sorts of flotsam and jetsam that run through my brain when I'm blogging.
Think of it as if VH1 did a Behind the Blog episode -- it would be just like Behind the Music without the groupies, bimbos, boy toys, massive drug use, fisticuffs, arrests, and downward arc to the narrative (I hope).
In other words, more like C-SPAN's Booknotes.
Be warned -- musings like these can be scary to the naked eye.
But it's all worth it -- to the ten or so of you who care about such things.