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Tuesday, May 13, 2003  

Some things we're talking about

•The good Bill Gates

Jeanne d'arc of Body and Soul, who began the current discussion of Bill Gates and philanthropy is somewhere away from her blog having a great time I hope, but the conversation marches on. Elayne Riggs of Pen-Elayne on the Web takes a fellow I called 'naive' to task.

So Bill Moyers interviewed Bill Gates on the installment of his program NOW which ran yesterday, all about how he's giving away 95% of his wealth to help fight infectious diseases and help with family planning issues in the Third World. This has created a weird schizophrenia among a few lefty bloggers.

Like me, Elayne is perturbed by OneMan's all or noting response to Gate's charitable contributions.

To which a blogger calling himself OneMan responded at length, with more whiplash-inducing "but"s than Patty and Selma's ashtrays. The whole thing reminds me of some fanboys' reaction to an issue of a comic that didn't read the way they expected it to regardless of whether the story worked: "How dare the writer do this when he should be doing that?" An example: "Gates refuses to even address, let alone challenge, the political conditions in which poverty, disease, and poor pre- and neo-natal care are rooted." Why do I get the feeling that, if Gates were to decide to run for office, this same person would be the first to protest the intrusion of wealth into politics?

I must agree with Elayne. The man arguing, Dustin, is not being realistic. The sins of the corporate world are rooted in at least six centuries of Western history, going back to slavery, colonialism, imperialism, child labor, e.t.c. We are not going to halt them by rejecting the good charity from Bill Gates, Paul Allen or Peter Norton can do. Elayne sums it up perfectly.

OneMan comes back with another blog entry: "I'm not against charitable giving per se, nor even large-scale philanthropic giving at Bill Gates' level. Rather, I am concerned with the issues of power around such giving..." I suppose it's nice to have luxury enough to sit around and debate these philosophical issues rather than, you know, fighting for survival and accepting charity graciously from one of the too few people inclined to give same.

Dustin tells me he was also part of the encounter I had with some raving transsexuals and their advocates last week. That discussion was marked by the same lack of realism. Virtually no one in American medicine or government is in favor of using public funds to pay for gender reassignment surgery for men who want to be women and women who want to be men. But, except for a few reasonable voices in that conversation you would have thought the exact opposite is true. Most of the participants confused their idealistic world view with reality. Dustin apparently believes I want health dollars for the poor to be spent mainly on health care for children because I'm "against trannies."

•I blog, therefore. . .

I've come across more good writing about the social and technical aspects of blogging via Rick Heller. He directs our attention to entries by Venomous Kate and Dean's World. Dean says:

1) Get permalinks working. Dump your software and get something else if you have to, but get them working!

I can't count the number of times I was going to link an article, only stopped because the permalinks didn't work. If you want to be taken seriously, get working permalinks!

2) Consider getting your own domain and a hosting service you pay for. Yes, free hosting is wonderful, but you can do better for as little as $5 a month. Your own domain gives you more control, makes it easier for people to find you and, frankly, it boosts your prestige a bit. This is not a huge deal, but you really should consider doing it if you can.

I've been thinking about doing both. As a new blogger, I must first examine different options and then compare the likely outcomes. I tried mirroring from Blogger Basic to Blogstudio, but it did not work. That would have solved the chronic Blogger lost archives and broken links problems so many of us have. I could also upgrade to Blogger Pro for $35, which supposedly solves those problems, too. Photo services are available from Blogger for $5 per month and part of the $29 Blogstudio package.

Radio Userland web logs does all of those things and actually sends out a package of software and instructions (very hard to find with other services) for a bit more. I fooled around with trial Radio posting yesterday. It would take some getting used to. I am also wary of programs on other servers running in background on my computer because it allows them to rip off computing power. If I used Radio, I would turn it off most of the time.

I am not ignoring Blog City or other options, just haven't researched them yet.

If you would like to see improvements to Mac-a-ro-nies, there is a PayPal button in the sidebar or you can buy the services as a gift to me from Blogger, Blog Studio, Radio, e.t.c., I think. (However, if you decide to be so kind, be sure to email me first so I can say which options I am still considering.)

Read the rest of Dean's advice and Kate's too.

•Saudi terrorists out themselves

There could be a positive aspect to the internal terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia. This episode may be the first in which the Saudis were not able to control domestic and international news and opinion about their role in terrorism. And, that's good. (I am not saying this because I am "against Arabs," Justin, so move away from that keyboard now.) Via Merv, the Prairie Pundit, the Arab News wakes up and smells the explosives.

We have to face up to the fact that we have a terrorist problem here. Last week’s Interior Ministry announcement that 19 Al-Qaeda members, 17 of them Saudis, had planned terrorist attacks in the country and were being hunted was a wake-up call — particularly to those who steadfastly refuse to accept that individual Saudis or Muslims could ever do anything evil, who still cling to the fantasy that Sept. 11 and all the other attacks laid at the doors of terrorists who happen to be Arab or Muslim were in fact the work of the Israelis or the CIA. For too long we have ignored the truth. We did not want to admit that Saudis were involved in Sept. 11. We can no longer ignore that we have a nest of vipers here, hoping that by doing so they will go away. They will not. They are our problem and we all their targets now.

This could be a something to crow about in regard to chickens coming home to roost.

•Centrality revisited

Centrist Rick Heller establishes his credentials with thoughts about democracy and poverty, writer Zadie Smith and advice for both the Right and Left blogospheres at Silver Rights. Heller has explained himself before.

The subject also surfaces at Notes on the Lounge. New Reason writer Julian Sanchez takes what he likely considers a centrist position in regard to the Jayson Blair affair and affirmative action.

So is this a case of affirmative action (on steroids, given the quantity of screwups) gone awry? ...So why is it ipso facto bigoted to raise the possibility?

My guess is that it's because bigots would also be likely to jump on this explanation first, whether there were evidence for it or not. But so what? Of course racists don't like affirmative action. That doesn't mean that it can't ever have genuinely bad consequences, does it?

My answer to Julian's questions is that it is unfair to exploit the Blair episode because there is no evidence Blair's race had anything to do with his malfeasance. Fair-minded people would wonder about Blair's personality, not the melanin content of his skin.

8:14 PM