A Question:

Has anyone ever seen Ann Coulter and Amanda Marcotte in a room together?

Just wondering, you know…

Back when I first started blogging, I titled a post on Coulter “The ‘Whoosh’ Of Credibility Flying Out The Window”.

For some reason the – I’ll be gracious – slow-witted bookers at the big conservative ‘do invited her to speak.

If I get some time at the airport this weekend, I’ll see how many conservative blogs were scathing about Marcotte’s Tourettes, and approving of Coulter’s.

Yeah, I know, it doesn’t prove anything. But I bought a Civic hybrid, not a Prius, and I have to get my smug where I can.

Captain Ed talks sense on this…

Correlation != Causation

In a way that probably carries bigger lessons for us all, I discovered this afternoon (with the help of Evariste, who watched the server while I tried to get connected) that while Thunderbird had in fact updated itself when I launched it this morning, and didn’t work after that…

…that the issue was that my IT guys had locked down the two ports I use for SSL mail this morning. At about the same time.

And I presumed – because after all, it was logical to do so – that the update had caused the problem, rather than some exogenous issue (like overzealous IT staff).

So, what do we all think the lesson here is?

Thunderbird Upgrade – Be Careful!

See embarassing update, above…

My copy of Thunderbird just upgraded itself to – and now it won’t download any mail.

I can’t get to the support forums at Mozilla, suggesting that I may not be alone…

So if you haven’t upgraded yet, I’d consider disabling auto upgrade on Thunderbird and waiting to see what (if anything) is going on.

Sometimes You Just Have To Go “Huh”?

Dean Esmay is taking a stand against Islamophobes. In and of itself, not a bad idea.

But as someone who doesn’t consider himself an Islamophobe, but thinks that questions about the future of Islam – as arguably one of the most powerful religious movements in the world, and as one which both has more temporal power (because it is more tightly tied both to state power and the daily lives of its adherents) than most other religions, and whose future is up for grabs – with one set of grabbers people who really do believe that religious wars are a Good Idea – I think that he is, as I’ve said before, burying his conclusions in his assumptions.

1. The future of Islam matters a lot to all of us. 2. It’s far from certain what the future of Islam will be. And that’s about the only two ‘bright line’ statements on the subject that I’ll sign on to.

As a matter of personal style and belief, I don’t think it’s a good idea to make anyone swear that they believe or don’t believe anything to associate with you. What matters is behavior, not belief, and I’m sad that Dean doesn’t get that.

It’s Just Business…

I have an Examiner piece up today on ‘The Netroots and the business of American politics‘.

I ask a simple question:

Will the rise of the Internet simply bring us a new clique of political consultants, or transform politics by opening it to the wider citizenry?

I’d love to see an Internet-based politics that really opened the doors … and as a nation, we’d be better off if it came to be. Do Bowers and Kos represent that politics? How will we know?

…comment away…

Al Gore’s ‘Petit Hameau’

Reading about Al Gore’s house clicked something into perspective for me.

The basic facts are simple; Gore uses a lot of energy in his 10,000 sf residence. He’s invested in energy-efficiency, but his lifestyle is still energy-lavish.

He’s not alone; many of the leading advocates of environmental propriety have both a Prius and an Escalade, to make an automotive metaphor. The Prius makes them feel good about themselves, while the Escalade is both roomy, comfortable, powerful, and enough of a status object that it meets the intangible needs that cars also seem to have to meet.

Gore’s response is that a) he’s done everything he reasonably can to mitigate his energy use, by

1) Gore’s family has taken numerous steps to reduce the carbon footprint of their private residence, including signing up for 100 percent green power through Green Power Switch, installing solar panels, and using compact fluorescent bulbs and other energy saving technology.

2) Gore has had a consistent position of purchasing carbon offsets to offset the family’s carbon footprint … a concept the right-wing fails to understand. Gore’s office explains:

What Mr. Gore has asked is that every family calculate their carbon footprint and try to reduce it as much as possible. Once they have done so, he then advocates that they purchase offsets, as the Gore’s do, to bring their footprint down to zero.

With due respect, as someone who’s read Amory Lovins for quite some time (‘Soft Energy Paths’ is a favorite book), if you can afford a private jet and a 10,000 foot house, you can afford to do a lot more than just “installing solar panels, and using compact fluorescent bulbs and other energy saving technology” (and yes, I know about Bush’s house in Crawford – that’s not the point here).

First, I’ll ignore the notion that the very wealthy can afford – among other things – the moral righteousness of buying indulgences for their profligate ways – without actually, you know, doing anything that actually pinches to make them less profligate. Things like this lead to guys nailing things to doors, and we all know where that ends up.

Second, I’ll suggest that what it suggests is that to many, environmental righteousness can best be compared to something from the past

Created in 1783, the Petit Hameau was a mock farm area, complete with farmhouse, dairy, and poultry yard … all areas traditionally associated with women.

When visiting this ersatz farm, Marie Antoinette and her attendants would dress as shepherdesses, and play at milking the cows and tending other docile animals. The farmhouse interior was more opulent, featuring all of the luxuries expected by the Queen and her ladies.

The Petit Hameau was part of the landscape of the “natural” English garden, but it was also a reflection of France’s cultural values on the eve of the Revolution. This artificial nature retreat mirrored the moral values associated with natural simplicity and virtue.

Novelists, playwrights, and moralists encouraged the aristocracy to act their part by giving a helping hand to the deserving poor in well-staged events that would reflect well on them. The poor had a tendency to take the aristocrats to court if they failed in their traditional duties, and they often won their cases.

Sadly, we can’t do that to our current aristocracy…

Look, we own a hybrid (even if the license plate announces that it’s an ‘eco fraud’). We bought it, nakedly, for the convenience of access to HOV lanes (which in crowded Los Angeles is a convenience indeed), as well as because we no longer needed the larger Honda minivan that we’d driven for seven years. If not for the HOV stickers, we probably would have bought a conventional Civic, rather than a hybrid one….but we probably would have bought something like a Civic regardless.

We could afford a lot of cars. But the reality is that I’ve BTDT with automotive ‘prestige’ (impressing the parking valets, as I once said…), and that I genuinely believe that we do all need to reduce our energy footprint in ways that doesn’t imply that we’ll live in fairy-tale rural communities.

Collapsing that make-believe is an important part of dealing with these issues; I’ll give Gore credit for hammering home the point that these issues are serious. Now if we could only get him out of the milking shed long enough to start talking about what we need to do about them.