Offline For A Bit, And Thinking About This Place

TG, Littlest Guy, and I are headed to Paris tomorrow for a couple weeks, where we’ll connect with Middle Guy and spend our flimsy Yankee dollars in support of the new Sarkozy regime.

I’m not taking the laptop, and promised to minimize my time in Internet cafes, so you won’t see much of me until mid-January.

To be honest, I’m pretty unhappy with the state of the blog these days. For me, this place is most of all about the discussions in the comments, and there’s been far too little discussing and far too much gainsaying going on. I welcome disagreement – even heated disagreement – but what I’ve seen in my last few posts isn’t enlightening, isn’t welcoming to outside readers, and doesn’t feel to me like the kind of party I want to be hosting.

I’m honestly not sure what to do about it. But when I get back, I intend to do something. Feel free to make suggestions here.

41 thoughts on “Offline For A Bit, And Thinking About This Place”

  1. If I think back to the “good old days” of WoC it was a very good group blog that didn’t hew a party line. Also there were multiple active posters at any one time. Maybe it’s time to clean out the affiliates to those affiliates who are still active, retire the rest, and recruit a new gang of topic briefers. When was the last time we saw any topic briefings? Also, I like the old Saturday tradition of no bad news on Saturday, only good news.

    Finally, the comments don’t always work properly. If you switched to Akismet for spam-stopping you could stop being so restrictive on source domains and IP numbers. It’s a very good spam-filter that works like pure magic.

    Fixing the comment engine might help encourage more thoughtful comments.

  2. Slingshot: Geez Totten why did you even try to reason with those clowns?

    Because I’m an idiot?

    It has been a while since I got in a real, protracted Internet fight, and I had forgotten how utterly pointless it is. You can’t win with people like that, and if you do…so what?

    It will be a long time before that happens again.

    It is much better at Winds. I have a newfound appreciation for even Avedis. :)

  3. I’ll take a stab at this.

    The blogs I see that have the best comments sections tend first to have a lot of blogger interaction with commenters. Commenters want to make it a conversation not just with other commenters but with the posters as well.

    The blogs I see that have the most consistently civil comments tend to be those where we’ve learned something about the personality of the hosts. People are rarely harsh at http://www.ambivablog.typepad.com, for example, because the readers all know the blogger fairly intimately.

    But I think the larger issue, the reason I don’t check in here very often, is that the core topic — war and peace — has gotten so muddied. No one quite knows what the narrative is. Because the narrative is uncertain, and because the narrative has dragged on for a number of years, readers are looking for entertainment elsewhere. Exhaustion has set in. The positions have all been argued to death. We’re like an audience that thinks it’s reaching the end of the movie, getting restless, then slowly beginning to realize that not only is the movie not going where we thought it was going, but may not be anywhere near its end — may in fact have no end.

    I realize some will object to my looking at this as a form of entertainment. Sorry, but it is at one level. We’re not participants, we’re observers. We’re an audience. And we want the story to make some sense. In the back of our minds we feel all wars should conform to the WW2 archetype. Clear beginning, clear ending, good guys win, bad guys lose, fade out. (Spare me the history lesson on the ambiguities of WW2, we’re talking story structure, not history.)

    So, the problem with WoC — if there is one — is its core focus. The audience has seen too much of this movie. The audience wants something else.

  4. I would suggest going back to your own blog. You seem like a decent guy, but you’ve been tainted by being in the orbit of the prevailing wind(bag) of change, Katzman, who is a thin-skinned bully.

    Katzman took his material and talking points from all those fine sources – WorldNutDaily, FrontPage News, Victor Davis Hanson, LGF, and last but not least Den Beste – for years.

    Now that Den Beste has had the decency to shut up and concentrate on Hentai in his basement after being logorreously wrong about just about everything, and similar pompous idiots like Telenko have gone away, there’s no surprise that this blog has no credibility. Who cares about Katzman’s weapons porn?

    Matt Yglesias had a post about this not too long ago – he titled it “the Den Beste years.” That such a fool was thought of as a major strategic thinker here tells you all you need to know.

  5. I think there is much of true substance in what M. Reynolds says (#7).

    But there’s more….no way to be delicate here so I’ll just throw it out there……From what I’ve seen the quality of a comments section is strongly dependent on the quality of the posts.

    If you want a more thoughtful and more civil commentariate you must first post more thoughtful and civil pieces.

    Much of what I see at Wind of Change is simple crude “liberal” bashing in the posts. Sometimes the bashing is made more subtle – through inuendo and selective inference – but it’s omnipresent. Analysis of events is shallow and slanted toward whatever the current rightwing meme of the day might be. No surprise that the bulk of comments mirror the tenor of the posts. And no surprise that there is a reactionary element from the the other side of the political spectrum. Not the ingredients of healthy, insightful or productive discusion.

    As a counter I would submit a couple of blogs that I read. American Footprints and Pat Lang’s Sic Semper Tyranus.

    The in depth and intellectual nature of the posts filters out the rabble because the rabble doesn’t really understand what was said and, hence, isn’t sure how to respond. Additionally, the tone of the blogs is more serious because there is clearly a focus on the intellectual quest for understanding as opposed to from the hip political gotcha gamesmanship (e.g. Looky here! I just identified another amoral lying liberal undermining American greatness!).

    Finally, the very aspects of the comments that are concerning AL are tolerated, if not encouraged, by AL, Katzman and Nortius, et al as long as they are coming from the loyal audience of rightwingers/Bush admin supporters. You want better discusion? Put a stop to the gratuitous name calling, political labeling and all the crap that interferes with meaningful discusion; regardless of the political orientation of the offender.

    Otherwise…your reaping what you planted and it’s hard to sympathize with you, AL.

  6. I have a suggestion. First, what are we trying to accomplish? I think we are trying to answer the following questions.

    How do we preserve the valuable parts of each discussion? How do we separate the wheat from the chaff? How do we build on previous discussions, rather than just covering the same ground over and over again?

    A thread currently has two parts: a target essay and a sequence of comments. The more interesting discussions turn into a long sequence of comments, which makes it difficult to enter late, and often includes a fair amount of chaff.

    Let me suggest that the editors create a special kind of comment called a Summary Statement, which is intended to be an even-handed summary of the different positions that have arisen in the discussion, and the best points made by each. These could include links back to specific comments that are particularly worth re-reading.

    Let me emphasize: the Summary Statement does *not* declare a “winner”, and it probably should not be written by a strong advocate of one side or another. It is intended to summarize the best points on all sides of the discussion. Ideally, that statement will be acceptable to all discussants.

    A Summary Statement is just another comment, however, so people can respond to it as they carry on the discussion, including arguing that the summary was unfairly or incorrectly done. There could also be multiple Summary Statements, in case there are multiple very distinct discussions that arose in the same thread. In some cases, the editors could decide to stop the discussion after a concluding Summary Statement. In others, the editors could make the Summary Statement of one discussion into the Target Essay for another one.

    The thread display format should be modified to provide direct links after the target essay to any Summary Statements that might have been written. This is particularly useful when joining a long discussion late, since you can start with the most recent Summary Statement (and any rebuttals that might have been posted).

    Ideally, by linking to a previous Summary Statement, it should be easier to build on previous discussion, rather than just stomping over the same ground, over and over. This back-linking can work across threads, to help the overall discussion make progress over time.

    Many of you will recognize this as an attempt to extract (in an idealized form) some of the best features of the scientific literature, and adapt them to ongoing social and political discussion.

  7. Good thoughts Beard, although I have absolutely no idea how technically difficult their execution might be; I might also add to the sidebar a short list or ranking of “most active threads” as I find myself missing some of the more active discussions until too late to play!

    Avedis, I appreciate the substance of you are aiming at in #10 and agree with a fair bit of it, but your argument and its presentation are to my eye internally conflicting. I would have expected a complaint about the allowing of gratuitous digs at liberals to be free of gratuitous digs at conservatives, both crude and subtle. That it is not detracts from the accessibility of your argument–like you, I would rather be engaged by persuasion than pounding–and highlights the difficulty of discussing emotionally volatile topics in a sustainable fashion.

    AL, I enjoy coming here for the variety of viewpoints and the informal setting, and will continue to do so as you seek to trim the balance. I tend to come at things from a philosophically humanist point of view, from which I regard liberalism and conservatism as differently incomplete (although unequally so), and I enjoy regularly finding things to read here that feed my curiosity.

    I think some of the exhaustion that has set in stems from rehashing surface arguments without addressing the differences in underlying logical assumptions about human nature and the world, which are hidden deep enough to be emotionally defended and are therefore much more difficult to engage directly with reason. Bear in mind that such assumptions wouldn’t be deeply held if they weren’t at least locally effective!

    Perhaps if we could get at and articulate the differences between those local assumptions, being very careful not to set off emotionally hairtriggered defenses, we could make more substantive progress over the ground these discussions cover, perhaps even agreeing on some universally applicable principles.

    Emphasizing the role of civility in this process is one commendable line of attack, and another might be to investigate the architecture of the system that produces our understanding of events in the first place (i.e., the interaction between emotion and intelligence; i.e., human nature). About the time you get back, I might have some thoughts to share with you along those lines…

    Perhaps it is time for a ground rules post on civility, or human nature?

    -Piercello

  8. “I would have expected a complaint about the allowing of gratuitous digs at liberals to be free of gratuitous digs at conservatives, both crude and subtle.”

    I want to be clear.

    No digs at conservatives intended. Maybe it just appears like it to you because the majority of digs in posts on this blog are aimed at liberals and that is a reality impossible to elude in an honest discussion. I would share the same advice with certain leftwing bloggers I know and I would simply substitute liberal for conservative and vice versa where appropriate.

    I can’t stand this whole liberal/conservative meme and all of the accompanying demonization. It’s so zombie stupid -on both sides. Yet it is alive and well here in the posts as well as comments.

    I wish I had a nickle for every time on this blog I’ve been called a liberal and then subjected to a litany of characterizations pertaining to attributes of my politics, character and morality when my own position pertaining to any of those was not even mentioned by me. It was all assumed just because I disagreed with some Bush admin policy or statement or some rightwing pundit.

    I am not a “liberal” in any conotation of the word implied by its detractors. I just disagree with the Bush admin 99% of the time. It is possible to be conservative and also to not appreciate a Republican admin. But this possibility seems to be beyond the grasp of many here and it is this type of neurotic narrow party-line mono-focus that makes the comments here (as it does equally on some liberal blogs) attenable. I feel that it is the moderators’ job to minimize this problem, but they don’t. Ergo, I have to believe that they enjoy it, if not encourage it.

    I am sure people have experienced similar insulting and borish responses on leftwing blogs and the practice is equally as obnoxious and fatal to discusion there as it is here.

    Beard’s idea is excellent. We do cover the same ground over and over again and we do fail to build on what was learned from previous related discussions.

  9. For my own part, i admit i’ve probably been a part of the problem in the tone around here lately, and for that i apologize.

    For some reason there have been a number of comment threads that have exploded in lengths far beyond what they probably warranted (which almost always means a really good thread, or a _really_ bad thread). Part of that is certainly a lot of personality clashes spilling over between threads, resulting in pissing contests with a thin veneer of whatever the topic is supposed to be. Thats really unfair to the author of the post (much less the founders of the feast), and i’m sorry for my part in that.

    This kind of thing happens all over, but here’s why i think its escalating here- Michael Reynolds hit the point, we’ve been fighting over the same things for so long its difficult to escape the stereotypes and bad feelings the years have built up.

    Its not just the war, and its not just the blogosphere. This nation is polarized and getting moreso, and has been happening since at least the early 90s if not before.
    The United States of Canada/Jesusland joke is so funny because its so true.

    This administration has inarguably taken the infighting to new heights. Its actually gotten to the point where in a lot of instances neither side trusts the other to be either honorable or looking out for the best interests of the nation as they see it. That is fundamentally unhealthy to civil discourse.

    We’re just at a crazy point where we cant even define terms. If you cant do that, how can you hope to have a fruitful discussion? It used to be you could point to studies or nonpartisan experts for data, but now both sides have their studies and their own experts and they immidiately dismiss the other side’s as bought and paid for. Is there such a thing as a neutral party anymore? It seems that all of the institutions we traditionally respected for their nonpartisanship have been forced to choose sides (or at least framed as though they have).

    So I don’t know. Maybe a new day is coming when this president leaves and (god-willing) we win this war.

    But as far as WOC goes, maybe we all need a good dose of Christmas cheer and good will, and we try again next year. Wolf has some good ideas about some nuts and bolts changes that might set a new tone.

  10. I just want to say (again, sort of) that the tone on this thread is absolutely fantastic compared to the norm in the political blogosphere.

    There is always room for improvement, of course, and I’m not suggesting abandoning that by any means. But for an open Internet forum that requires no registration, this place ranks near the top in terms of civility.

    Most blog comment sections are snake pits.

  11. My introduction to WoC was a dust-up between WoC and LGF, some years ago, the particulars of which are not worth remembering. But it morphed into a very interesting discussion about the use of force in WWII.

    I’m not a computer creature by nature and I avoided the internet for a very long time, considering it to be mainly a demonstration of the Greater F–wad Theory that Norman referred to (#4). What changed my mind was 9/11, after which I turned to the internet out of sheer desperation.

    My belief at the time was that the blogs might help to forge a new common consensus that transcended the usual shallow politics. I had a feeling that a mighty wall was about to crumble.

    Well, the wall didn’t fall down and people are still beating their heads on it. Still I think the blogs have formed cultural redoubts and refuges of sorts, and this has been one. It is good to see a place that is immersed in the important issues of the day, but where you can also talk religion, science, philosophy, technology, and Shakespeare.

    As for comments, there is a place in discourse that lies between falling asleep on the set of Washington Week in Review and hitting Geraldo Rivera in the face with a chair. Whatever spot is comfortable, one ought to expect to receive as one giveth. The great thing about the internet is that it talks back. The oblivious monologue is dead, and the best revenge is thinking well.

  12. Mark B, “For my own part, i admit i’ve probably been a part of the problem in the tone around here lately, and for that i apologize.”

    I too admit my culpability, though the nature of my offenses is a little different it definetly can lower the quality of discussion. Of course I get banned from time to time…………..at any rate I think Mark is on to something in his contemplations of the root causes. Maybe Beard’s suggestion would ameliorate these.

    “maybe we all need a good dose of Christmas cheer and good will, and we try again next year.”

    That sounds like a wonderful idea. I’m all for it!

    Personally, I came here for the first time following a discussion between Dan Darling (who I found to be a perverse and over rated third tier college student – I mean what sort of young man would actually want to be mentored by Michael Ledeen) and someone else I can’t remember. So I was curious. What else did this guy believe? Why? What did his base think about his ideas? etc.

    What I found was akin to an alien culture. I was fascinated by the opinions presented, how they were often based on a filtering and arrangement of the available fact set in ways I would not have imagined. However, spending time discussing – OK, arguing – with those buying into the mindset has helped me immensely in understanding (though not agreeing with) a large percent of my fellow Americans.

    Overall, a worthwhile experience.

    I would like to see a more scientific approach here as opposed to opinions being expressed as facts; diificult as this is to do for reasons described well by Mark B.

  13. Since we’re reminiscing a bit- i first found WOC via the Command Post. CP was amazing- the first time a shooting war has been systematically blogged minute by minute I would think. Unfortunately the founders had the idea that they could become a ‘mainstream’ news entity, and in an effort to tidy up the place comments became the red headed stepchild. Worse than just shutting them down, they were relentlessly policed for tone, topic, etc. CP was essentially dead within 6 months, their valiant if misguided idea that the MSM would ever embrace a blog as a legitimate professional entity (at least one not founded directly by a ‘real’ media company) never panned out for them.

    Anyway, I only mention it because it would indeed be a shame for that to happen here. I dont think AL or Joe have any interest in that kind of thing, much less enforcing it day to day, but its warning to us all.

  14. Let me carry my earlier suggestion [#12] one step “further.”:http://www.lessontutor.com/eesfarther.html

    In addition to the Summary Statement, which is intended to distill the essential value from a particular discussion thread, it may be possible for someone to formulate a Consensus Statement that everyone around at a particular time might be willing to agree with.

    I am thinking of things along the lines of: _We believe in the value of civil and informed discussion of points of controversy, as a way for the community to explore and test positions on important topics, and ideally to converge on elements of shared beliefs and values._

    Or even: _We believe that peace in Iraq will only be possible when the people living in Iraq believe that they are part of the “Iraqi people” as much as they are part of the Shiite, Sunni, or Kurdish people._ (Actually, I doubt we could reach consensus on this one, but I wanted to illustrate something substantive rather than just procedural.)

    The process of debugging and accepting, or of shooting down, a proposed Consensus Statement, would be quite an instructive exercise in its own right. (Consider the Federalist Papers.)

    Once there are a few Consensus Statements, they start becoming defining statements for the community.

    However, they are not a creed. The community could come to consensus on some statement, and later decide that, in light of subsequent developments (events or insights) discussion should be resumed, or even that that Consensus Statement should be rejected.

    Nonetheless, as Consensus Statements accumulate, and survive various challenges (perhaps being revised and improved along the way), they gain weight and solidity. At a certain point, to be taken seriously as part of the discussion, people need to at least demonstrate that they understand the existing Consensus Statements, and if they disagree, that they can articulate how and why.

    This is not to make the entire process goal-oriented.

    The discussions can range just as widely as before, including virtually as much randomness. It’s just that, at the end of the day, someone (the original author of the target essay? one of the editors?) takes the responsibility to distill the value from the current discussion in the form of a Summary Statement.

    And if someone feels they really understand the common truth underlying an apparent divergence of opinion, they can propose a Consensus Statement, and see how it fares under the scrutiny of a community of intelligent and opinionated readers.

    These are the flakes of gold that are left in the pan as you swirl the water around to wash away the sand.

  15. I’ve lurked here for a long time. I first found out about WOC from the old Command Post blog (RIP 2004). CP would give me the current events and WOC (among others) would flesh out the details. That was probably one of the best mixes I’ve seen for broadening my own knowledge base. Unfortunately CP is gone and nothing has quite filled it’s spot.

    WOC did well by me for quite a while, but then it seemed to die by inches. Posts slowed to a trickle. Several of those who gave me what I came looking for at WOC dramtically cut their posting or left altogether. Frankly, I probably would have left at that point, but WOC was in the list of blogs setup to automatically open each day when I went to check out what was happening (mild plug for Opera’s session capability) and it was never quite worth the effort to remove it or swap it out.

    WOC has since come back a bit, but it has never really recaught the fire it once had. It often feels more like there is one or two people at a time trying to keep it on life support. With it not providing what people were looking for (IMHO), they moved onto greener pastures. That has left the diehards, who would tend to be more polarized and know each other perhaps a bit too well.

    WOC is not what it was. I think you need to decide what it will be and acquire the resources (especially writers, and advertising on other blogs) to make it happen. This will require a big time committment by the owners initially. This is not to say they don’t commit a lot of time currently, but I think they spend their time more in keeping the site on life support than in growing it towards the future.

    StargazerA5

  16. On hiatus, so this is short:

    Per Stargazer:

    Familiarity breeds contempt to some degree; also, the “evaporative cooling” metaphor mentioned in #4 applies in several ways, including the clientele, topics, and possibly fatigue.

    Per Avedis:

    It seems impossible (and possibly incorrect) to discriminate between those talking about what {some deprecated class of speakers/thinkers} supposedly do / are and those who namecall some specific correspondent as a {member of some deprecated class}. That’s a typical path to slimefights, I think, and certainly one where I’ve been accused of playing favorites, apparently because the distinction is not seen as fair, due to implication(?).

    Fixing that might involve actual “moderation”, where every single post has a “nanny” agent bleeping out all the p*ss and vinegar and all generalizations and labels directed at people, too.

    Lots of labor. For what gain? And what loss? Leaving …what? Spocktalk?

    Avedis keeps telling me I’m biased, and I keep trying to figure out what I can do about things like the above. Got no answers yet, but I’m still mindful of the issue.

    Second verse, same as the first: ordinary people are notorious for taking “that’s a loony idea” and “you’re a loony” as identical. So maybe all adjectives have to go. Tough row to hoe.

    Better tools and preview might help. Hard to figure the odds and payoff.

    Then there’s the huge topic set of polemics, collegiality in theory and practice, and the exploration / battle dichotomy for argument.

    aka the “What kind of bar?” question.

    Not up to me. I just try to keep the fistfights to a minimum and sweep up.

    PS:
    As an experiment, I’m thinking of scripting up a filter that substitutes {bleep} or {some people} for terms like “liberal”, “leftist”, “moonbat” and the equivalent other labels, and running it on the entire content of WoC. Just for grins.

    Then I’ll try running it on LGF. Any bets on the outcome? Statistically?

  17. Burnout … not surprising. To the extent that WOC succeeds in doing what I like about it – encouraging/demanding review and sometimes even a re-shuffling of ones belief system, it qualifies as one of the more exhausting undertakings. I infrequently dip my foot into the malestrom and find it challenging enough; I often wondered how those routinely engaged in this exercise could keep it up. Taking a break now and then seems … well… necessary. The previously noted suggestions for comments that summarize or attempt to identify consensus are valid, but I would prefer to put this onus on all commentators, not some designated ajudicator. Their only reward for so doing, would be the likelihood that so framed, such comments are more likely to gain the attention of the small percentage of persons who might just possibly be moved (however slightly) from their conceptual staus quo. Hey its Christmas… I can make a wish can’t I?

  18. Ian Coull [#23],

    It would be lovely if all commentators would behave civilly and responsibly, but in the real work, that ain’t gonna happen.

    And you are right, the real reward is getting the attention of people capable of changing their minds. In fact, I believe that most people can be reached, but it is harder with some than with others. The art of the argument is how to reach someone you disagree with.

  19. Though the proposal to come up with a state of the art statement on comment threads is intriguing it could by no means be automatic and would depend on the skill of the person who manages the thread. My feeling is that the thread manager would have to put as much thought into managing the thread as it would take to come up with another good post.

    I still the problem boils down to an insufficient number of writers with new things to say in order to keep the interest level up. One post a day won’t do. A group blog needs three or more, and it will maintain more interest if there are voices of the left, right and center, and not a monoculture of any one (especially a monoculture of so-called centrists who claim to be purely objective and have no bias). You could even include a real conservative, one who like Burke believes in the God-given right of kings to rule to provide the negative hypothesis for the premise of Winds of Change (the positive hypothesis being representative government is good).

  20. Wolf Pangloss:

    You could even include a real conservative, one who like Burke believes in the God-given right of kings to rule …

    “But the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded.”

    Of course, Burke didn’t believe that the king had a God-given right to rule America, did he? Are you trying to start a fight in here or something?

  21. While we are talking about improving the comments – as an aside – is there spelling/grammar checker available for blog comments?

    I am sometimes amazed at the bludgeoned mess I have made of the King’s English when I later read what I have published. I can’t be the only one.

  22. Glen, not to imply that I’m a real conservative. I guess I should have made that clear. I don’t think that the US should be ruled by a king or by power-seeking political dynasties of the Roosevelt/Kennedy/Bush/Clinton type. I’m a liberal in the old fashioned sense, and it seems to me that the initial push for democratic elections in other countries has proved that what Burke wrote concerning Revolutionary France also applies to Iraq, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Gaza, Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other places.

    bq. I should therefore suspend my congratulations on the new liberty of France, until I was informed how it had been combined with government; with public force; with the discipline and obedience of armies; with the collection of an effective and well-distributed revenue; with morality and religion; with the solidity of property; with peace and order; with civil and social manners. All these (in their way) are good things too; and, without them, liberty is not a benefit whilst it lasts, and is not likely to continue long. The effect of liberty to individuals is that they may do what they please: we ought to see what it will please them to do, before we risk congratulations, which may be soon turned into complaints.

    bq. Burke, “Reflections on the Revolution in France”:http://www.constitution.org/eb/rev_fran.htm

    Of course this is exactly what Natan Sharansky said in his _The Case for Democracy,_ which was the blueprint for the Bush doctrine of spreading democracy in the Middle East as a prophylactic measure against terrorism. And of course Sharansky’s warnings concerning the proper order and plan by which to build a liberal society were ignored when it came time to carry out the Bush doctrine.

    It is as if Sharansky had given us a plan to build a house and keep a roof over our head, and instead of laying the foundation and building the walls we started by erecting a roof, thinking that we would fill in the foundation and walls later. Now because the doctrine was so badly botched it has been discredited and with it Sharansky’s vision.

    But I digress. The point I was trying to get to is that liberals come in many different flavors. And the flavor I chose is a patriotic one that loves God, loves the US, and treasures the capitalist system as the freest system that has ever been devised. These days that doesn’t put me in the “liberal” column at the polls, but I still believe that hope, freedom, patriotism, muscularity and liberalism *should* go together.

  23. I got you, Wolf. I was just heckling, because this thread is veering dangerously close to mouth kissing.

    By the Majestic Rack of Warlike Athena, I’ve almost argued myself into agreement with Avedis in the M4 discussion. This is not normal. Christmas spirit has breached the compound. All we need now is Tiny Tim.

  24. It’s “REQUESTS” night at Winds of Change!

    Presenting: “TI-NEEEE…. TIM!!!”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skU-jBFzXl0

    Shades of night are creeping
    Willow trees are weeping
    Old folks and babies are sleeping
    Silver stars are gleaming
    All alone I’m scheming
    Scheming to get you out here, my dear, come
    Come on out and pet me
    Come and “Juliet” me
    Tease me and slyly “coquette” me
    Let me Romeo you, I just want to show you
    How much I’m willing to do for you, come

    Tip toe to the window, by the window
    That is where I’ll be, come
    Tip toe thru the tulips with me
    Tip toe from your pillow
    To the shadow of the willow tree
    And tip toe thru the tulips with me

    Knee deep in flowers we’ll stray
    We’ll keep the showers away
    And if I kiss you in the garden
    In the moonlight, will you pardon me
    Come tip toe thru the tulips with me

    “Source”:http://www.themadmusicarchive.com/song_details.aspx?SongID=611

    -Open-mouthed kisses to all!-

  25. I think discussion would be improved if the terms “meme” and “narrative” were banned. Both encourage laziness. All for spellcheck, though.

  26. Mark; those are real words and they do have an appropriate use. Sometimes they are the most appropriate words to describe a phenomenon. Granted they get overused. So what, now? We have a an official blog grammar marm as well?

  27. That the comments are free and open without login or registration is a Good Thing. Many blogs taking comments require registrations that don’t always work and remembering registration login names and passwords. I am passworded-out from all the other things I have to register for.

    As to the Long War in the GWOT and the never-ending Iraq war, it seems that initially there was this great enthusiasm for deposing Saddam and invading Iraq and as things went on, the disillusionment sets in. Remember the Four Horseman of the Ablogalyspe? Glen Reynolds is still at it as is Charles Johnson, although it has been a long time I have visited LGF on account of the one-note-on-the-piano aspect to it, Den Beste dropped out on account of his life situation, and Sullivan decided he was against the Iraq War when President Bush didn’t see things his way on gay rights. Of the snarky commentators, many are liberals but there may be just as many conservatives in the mix who decided that Mr. Bush wasn’t their guy after all.

    I am conservative in my leanings but willing to listen to the liberal perspective, especially if there are fresh ideas rather than rehash of the party-line talking points. Where I live I get a steady diet of “Invade Iraq? No!” (yeah, that exclamation point on the bumper sticker will really show ‘em), “Worst President, Ever”, “Stop this endless war” and on and on.

  28. I’m a LONG time lurker here at WoC and still try to check in as much as possible. I’ve always used ‘lurker’ whenever I’ve commented, which is pretty rarely.

    The first time, I was smacked down by Porhpy over a misunderstanding. I don’t think he ever took my true meaning. Blog comments in a nutshell I’m afraid.

    It has slowed down a lot around here the last few years. Joe has been distracted by building a new life and it seems all the posters, besides A.L. have drifted away, except the occasional cross posting and the enigma that is Heggy.

    I really miss the great essays that Cicero used to post. He’s started a new life as well, so that seems to be a common thread.

    So, Winds isn’t what it was, but there is a history here. One irritating thing that I’ve found is the drive by commenters that start slinging mud around without understanding “what has come before”. That ‘chris’ guy is the worst example. He stops by from time to time to enlighten us, and then moves on.

    There are a few in this thread that started that way, but they seem to have stuck long enough that they are becoming more enmeshed into the fabric of the place, like Avedis and the new ‘mark’ for example.

    Another thing that is irritating are the critics that stop by, and demand scientific and apparently peered reviewed proof before conceding even the shadow of a point. That might be fine if you need to always win every argument, at least in your own mind. If that’s what you are about, then please just move along.

    Comments should be interesting and thought provoking and well reasoned. Trying to hold an opponent to a scientic level of truth that requires subpoena power to produce, while emotionally satisfying, does nothing to further the debate here and has the practical effect of stifling debate instead of moving it along.

    I think the MOST irritating are the ones that assume anyone that that disagree with, take certain positions for some kind of selfish or stupid or lemming type reasons. This sometimes permeates all their comments. Andrew J. Lazerus is one of the worst offenders. If I hear that I’m just following the talking points one more time, I think my head might explode.

  29. One thing you need to do is edit(yes, I know I throw bombs in here from time to time) the discussions for content. Many times the conversation veers off into historical and political vectors not revelant to the orginal post.
    The other is find some more main writers. Ms Burke is gone. Try seeing if Cassandra of Villanous Company(whom shut down her site for the second time wants to part time write. Maybe Bill Roggio will toss over something. I find that his view of the extreme Islamic threat and how to overcome it is on point.

  30. We have a bunch of people who just aren’t polite enough to talk to. If the only way not to have an obnoxious conversation with someone is to avoid them, and people like that proliferate, a silence grows.

    Also, I’m not interested to participate in threads when I see that they’re all about rehashing ancient, irrelevant debates such as Bush’s 16 words. And I see enough names that I know how they act, that this is a given.

    Those ancient debates can be won – as far as I’m concerned anyway – by demanding chapter and verse proof each time, that would be time consuming to dig up. Because even though it’s straightforward, I’m not going do searches every time somebody rehashes a talking point from Michael Moore, and I’m not going to economize on the effort to reply by keeping big files on things like “Bush stole Florida 2000″ to keep cutting and pasting from them every time the same empty allegations are interjected in the debate year after year after year. It’s not worth it, to become a specialist in playing defense on Scooter Libby conspiracy theories and other stuff that bored me to tears even when it was “live”. Maybe this stuff is fascinating to some Americans. Not to me.

    If you stay interested in the same conspiracy theories forever, and other people have moved on, you can win. And we have what for me is a critical mass of people who will gladly win that way. So I show up from time to time, maybe remove some spam or shorten a page-breaking link, and that’s about it.

    In other words, the regular phenomenon is well advanced, where those who make substantial arguments say less or depart, and those who play the man and not the ball and who rehearse faux debates like figures in an amusement ride have the floor space to themselves.

    What I do still like is Joe Katzman’s threads. Procurement can have diplomatic implications, immediate military implications, long term implications. Fascinating stuff – but I’m not qualified to argue it.

    And I miss the religious / spiritual angle on the blog: Good News Saturday, stuff like that. I think piety is an ennobling virtue, by default, and it can create a more pleasant atmosphere. But that’s pretty much all gone.

  31. Really Nort (from M4 thread)? You don’t know anyone who fits that description? Then you don’t know your boss very well. Oh….and look at that! He does have links to the defense industry….what a surprise (not).

    Shut down a thread because it wasn’t generating the type of hits and (BTW revenue enhancement) that Katzman was looking for? Nice, real nice.

    “Cry Baby Katzman”:http://www.linkedin.com/in/joekatzman

  32. Avedis: He’s not my boss, and I do not respect your tone -or your beer goggles (the ellipses seem to be correlated in prior posts)-. I do respect your service to our country. -Lucky you.-

    PS: I shut the thread temporarily because you along with others were sniping at one another and I didn’t feel like yelling at you-all. Thanks for the display of wisdom by spilling that over here; and thanks for providing, together with my (perhaps over-) reaction, an illustration of the kind of thing that makes it needful for AL to think about what to do with WoC.

    Civilly,

    Nort

    [Uncivll, however likely, swipe struck out. See #36 above.]

  33. Alright….. So please re-open the thread. Please do not shut down a discussion that others may wish to enjoy on my account. It is not necessary. I will refrain from posting for two weeks.

    BTW…..Bourbon goggles, not beer. I avoid beer because it makes me belch too much and that diminishes my sex appeal.

  34. It’s not all about you, Avedis. Really. You’re not banned, you’re not unwelcome, just please let’s all try not to assume malice or financial gain or other sorts of bogosity. Please. Please?

    Joe Katzman works for a magazine. He’s interested in whizzy gadget things like RPVs, but he’s also interested in our guys not dying needlessly. Arguments about the quality of the M4 test, its applicability or no, implications, etc., are great. Cheap shots at Joe? Not so much. I know how he lives; if he’s getting fat from military / contractor kickbacks he’s hiding it really well.

    Oh, for a backchannel that was *easy* to use. That’s *my* wish for WoC, moving forward.

    Back to my foxhole.

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