February 18, 2006

Call & Raise

Just when it looked like a boring weekend, I see that Jeff Goldstein has been fortifying his battlements on the matter of Bryant Gumbel's apparent gaffe over the Winter Olympics. There's nothing like a good debate to warm the typing fingers, so I imagine that I'll blow off some time and engage.

The argument has three dimensions, the way I see it. The first is the dimension of race, or more appropriately the politics of anti-racism. Anti-racism is, of course, the proper principle to invoke, and quite frankly is the most important matter to be discussed, whether or not we want it to be. Are the poltics of anti-racism effective, and if so how are they displayed relating to this 'event'?

The second dimension is that of Sport. In this context what is a sport and to what degree does that sport merit the attention of thoughtful people? Granted there will be fans of any number of bizarre human activities, including reality television, but are those activities worthwhile?

The third dimension is the actual nature and form of debate between bloggers, and in particular between these two. Is JG a mealy mouthed chattering squirrel, am I a sloppy Technorati stalker?

I'm going to focus on the first dimension in contradiction to what I said in Snow Foolin'. Why? Because I have to have the last word, and I believe I have a more nuanced appreciation for the problem than does JG, and I'd hate to leave the blogosphere with only his attempt.

In summary I say that first of all, it's difficult for me to take any debate on Hannity and Colmes seriously. Firstly because I knew that second-rate radio hack Sean Hannity from the mid 90s in Georgia when his greatest claim to fame was defending Bob Grant of WABC. As for Colmes, I don't know jack about him, but who would play second fiddle to Sean Hannity? So if Goldstien is riffing off Hannity and Colmes... what am I supposed to do, listen attentively? But the meat of the subject is the old canard that a black man can't be racist, therefore Bryant Gumbel's 'objectively racialist' comments cannot be racist. Well, I suppose that's worth debating. Also

Assume the worst. Bryant Gumbel is a racist and he honestly believes that the Winter Games are not worth watching because of the paucity of blacks. Assume that is his single point (when in fact he made three). The crippling impact of this comment, indeed his most vile direct suggestion of the night was basically this: Don't watch the games. But there's a second implication if we are to assume the worst which is that the Winter Games are racist discriminators against black atheletes.

But let's take the implication even further. His assertion that the game were as lily white as a GOP convention suggests that the Republican party itself is as racist. This should really burn me up as a Republican (read the masthead). I should be really insulted. But I'm not. The reasons why are fairly simple. As JG notes, I am the final authority, not because I'm black, but because I've done my homework - homework I don't expect any of you to check, but homework done nonetheless.

So here's where I make my stinging point. It happens to be a point I didn't bother to make before but it was in the back of my head.So my stinging point is this: Why should white people make a big deal about a comment that is nothing more than a racist insult by a black man? Well, considering the responses I've gotten here and read there are several reasons.

1. There's a double standard. Blacks get to make racist comments but whites don't.
Blacks also get to call each other 'nigga' and whites can't. And of all the blackfolks on the planet, you complaining whitefolks want to be like the niggas that call niggas niggas? Fine, nigga. But seriously, anyone who reads Cobb knows that I dismiss Class Three Racism all the time. So for the first time in their lives perhaps, readers of Protein Wisdom may be finding that they are accused of whining about racism. That's right. I'm accusing. No double standard here. You're all playing victim of the Evil Racist and Moronic Two Horseman of the Black Supremacist Apocalypse, Colmes & Williams. That is mealy-mouthed, petty, small minded and simply wrong.

What ultimately is the price paid by the existence of a double standard when it comes to public speech about race? Is it that because (some) blacks are saying one thing and (some) whites are saying something else that nobody can really know what is racist or not? I think that's a pathetic and lazy excuse for not reading a book or walking outside of your front door and observing reality. I would take conservatives to task on this matter especially. It doesn't matter what people say, there is no moral relativism.

2. Well it's really racist and we should stand against racism in every form.
We should stand against mathematical incomepetence in every form as well. It's one thing when your kid fails to put her decimal points in the right place, it's another when NASA engineers make the exact same mistake and crash a spacecraft into Mars. So where is your sense of proportion here? Is Juan Williams the enemy?

Aside from scoring points in a debate over the semantics of race (which this boils down to if we're not actually talking about sports in the full context of Gumbel's complaint over the Winter Games), serious people have to determine who itis worth castigating and for what reasons. It's not something I saw in the 5 minute clip of Hannity's show, but we can do that here in the 'sphere.

Nevertheless, I don't think any debate about this gaffe or that gaffe contributes in any significant way to an effecive anti-racist politics in America, and if I sound like a grumpy self-righteous curmudgeon about it, then sobeit. I grew up black in the city, so riding dirtbikes without helmets or playing street football doesn't bother me. I grew up in California, so chicks from Texas do nothing for me. I wrote the Race Man's Home Companion in 1995 so this little episode about the implications of a sportscaster's snarky remarks aren't all that deep. However, it does make for fairly interesting blogging.

Other Sniglets
a). If you absolutely positively want to go there with race, then I can quickly tell you that I think the world's foremost authority is Adrian Piper.
b). I didn't troll Technorati on this matter, Protien Wisdom has been on the blogroll for a while
c). I really really do want to see a video of that Lindsey Jacobellis blooper.
d). I will continue to blow off racial whining, white, black or otherwise.

Posted by mbowen at 12:01 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 17, 2006

Blogrolling.com: Cut Off the Head

You know the old saying.. Cut off the head of the snake and the body follows. Apparently, Blogrolling.com is the head of the blogospheric snake. And right about now, ie 0039 -8GMT, somebody or something has cut off the head of Blogrolling.com and all of my precious blogs take forever to load.

Verry interesting.

Posted by mbowen at 12:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 28, 2006

Shout Out to Six24

There's a new aggregator in town, and it looks rather sweet. Right now there are three or four venues where you can catch syndications of Cobb. Periodically, Booker Rising will pull one of my half-way decent essays, the rest are automatic (Conservative Brotherhood, Black Bloggers Assn and Punditdrome). Add to that Six24.

Put together by Courtney Payne (NSBE, FAMU), the site is polished and performs well. He's adding features and taking feedback, so jump to it.

Posted by mbowen at 02:30 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 26, 2006

Black Blogging Revisited

A few months ago, Antoinette Pole from Brown University interviewed me and several other black bloggers. She presents her results.

This paper explores the role of black bloggers in the blogosphere. Among the top political blogs, blogging has primarily been undertaken by white men, coined by Chris Nolan as the "Big Boys Club." This research assesses how bloggers of color use their blogs for purposes related to politics, and it investigates whether the blogosphere facilitates political participation among black bloggers.

The data for this paper are based on in-depth interviews with 20 black bloggers conducted in November 2005. Primarily exploratory, this paper examines the issues and topics discussed by bloggers of color, and whether and how bloggers are using their blogs to engage in political participation. In addition this research attempts to assess whether black bloggers face discrimination in the blogosphere. Findings from this research suggest that black bloggers do in fact use their blogs to encourage their readers to engage in various forms of political participation. Finally, the data also show that bloggers reported that they do not feel discriminated against or excluded by other bloggers.

Her focus on the politics of blogging and the blogging of politics tests three hypotheses:

  • Black bloggers will blog about issues related specifically to race.
  • Black bloggers will use their blogs to engage in and to encourage their readers to engage in various forms of political participation that occur both online and offline.
  • Black bloggers will report that they face discrimination by other bloggers.
  • The answer to 1 is yes, but how much? Indeed how much is too much or not enough. It's enough that we do, I suppose, but that doesn't necessarily mean that appropriate attention is paid. I think anyone who blogged primarily about race relations would go bonkers after three years if they weren't already bonkers. I say this from personal experience.

    The answer to number two isn't a surprising yes, but one that after a moment's consideration, you'd expect. But I understand that this is the kind of baseline writing that must be done in order to build up a body of academic work.

    The third answer is no. Black bloggers are, by and large, masters of their own domain. How black online writers got hounded out of public internet spaces was a function of the fact that they were squatters like everyone else. But when you control your discussion space, you can squelch the noise.

    Dr. Pole presented her paper in India in December
    . You can read the whole thing: HERE. Of course you should. She makes a lot of good observations that are definitely worth considering.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:00 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    December 28, 2005

    Rising Up

    Aha. It looks as if I have found the man who might, in the end, find a way to convince me that there is some way to integrate gay marriage into my list of good things. That would be quite a feat, but Joe Perez appears to have the qualifications.

    I would say that my greatest difficulty with the idea of same-sex marriage is its threat to the very sacrament of Holy Matrimony. I see the political activism of various queer nations & friends as an overproduction within our democracy which is both arrogant, deceptive and counter to the very liberating aspects of the legacy of Stonewall. I support equal rights for registered domestic partners, such as we have here in California, but I do not endorse any cross of the line between Church and State. I cannot believe that such social and political activism can be contained within a purely secular context and that congregations will force the hand of the clergy and church hierarchs.

    While I am not so personally vested in the affairs of other sects, I think this is a dangerous precedent for my own Episcopal and Catholic Churches. In fact, in light of the possibility that Episcopalians might change, I have seriously considered joining the Catholic Church in some official way. This is a consequence of my fundamental belief and understanding of religious traditions as well considered and evolved moral frameworks which counter the vagueries and fashions enabled by today's ultra-fast market economies and regimes of information. I expect the internet to be fast, I don't expect it to be heavy enough to bulldoze ancient and active religions.

    Clearly, however, homosexuality has endured the centuries. Has it been relegated to the proper margins? That is a question I do not know the answer to, however I find it difficult to believe that in the most libertine and free society in mankind's history, our political emphasis is in line with all human experience. As the puppeteer so concisely parodied "Everybody has AIDS' is simply not the case, nor should Rent' be canonical.

    Anyway, I am looking forward to checking out Mr. Perez blog, Rising Up in the future.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:06 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    December 23, 2005

    Body Parts

    Now that I have a little time off, I'm going to start paying a bit more attention to other bloggers. I have been accused of erecting strawmen. I suppose it's true - I haven't been arguing against or with anyone in particular, but against theoritical objections of my proposals and arguments. That's not healthy.

    I start on a light note of rational optimism and find a new blog called Body Parts, a Bear Flagger. He has a set of concepts that have weight and philosophical pedigree and determines that they are due to be disproven and excommunicated from the Western Canon. I like it. From my perspective, a number of things I criticize generally as Lefty and just plain wrong don't quite get as specific as this, and I would like to use these more handy weapons in my arsenal against wishful thinking. Of course I realize that I have to enjoin the battle, and I buy the premise that these five predictions will come true. That's wishful.

    So let it be my Christmas Wish

    Posted by mbowen at 09:51 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    December 04, 2005

    Under Reconstruction

    I've discovered that my blog looks like crap in IE. Who knew? As I mentioned earlier, I'm moving to a three column format and am going to be changing to blue (probably) or red (more likely). Obviously I haven't made a whole lot of decisions, but switching back between Dreamweaver, Front Page and pure text is making this complicated job even less of a no-brainer.

    Please pardon the uglies while I redo.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:16 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

    December 01, 2005

    Are you a Cobbler?

    I'm going to spread some love and in the process of doing so, may modify the format of Cobb. But first to the love.

    A lot of people do a lot of headscratching about what I'm representing on the blog. I can be maddeningly infuriating if you're trying to figure me out. I know this. But here's what I do for a living. I get people to tell me what's the most important numbers they run their business on, and I design systems to deliver those numbers with speed, accuracy and style. In other words, I do a lot of listening, and then I structure up the best way I can to express what it is you say is so important. Since I tend to be incredibly geeky and logic oriented, I also show you the embarrassing contradictions on the way from pie in the sky to feet on the ground. So therefore I am skeptical, analytical, and possessed of a certain .. how shall I say it? Showmeism. You say you want the truth, Mr, CFO? OK, here's what systems and work you have to get there, now how much are you willing to pay? I generally find that people in all walks of life would rather have 80% of the truth told nicely than 100% of the full ugly truth.

    But the corollary to all that is that there's a hell of a lot of discovery that needs to be done in order to get the truth delivered promptly. A lot of swamps have to be drained, a lot of trees climbed to peer into the misty mists and the dusky dusks. Furhtermore, a lot of bridges need to be built. It's not enough to be one who scouts out the truth armed with a machete through the jungles of uncertainty and over the mountains of lies. You have to pave roads too. The truth is not so much revealed as cobbled together. Once you find this to be the case over and over, you are less likely to say what lies on the other side of the river. You analyze, you sniff the wind, you rely on your gut and you take precise measurements, grunt and move forward. You are a Cobbler, putting together paths towards revelation one safari at a time.

    That's the kind of environment I intent to continue fostering here at Cobb. Open inquiry, useful philosophical discipline, common sense, unabated curiousity and heartfelt passion. And none of that can happen, despite my ability to spew, without you.

    And so I'm about to change the colors at Cobb from the green I've been using to something else, and I'm seriously considering a three column format. With the third column would come more extensive blogrolling, names posted on comments and possibly even advertisements, although I'm pretty hesitant on that last score. I'd much rather shill for bloggers than sellers.

    As for the political angle, it will be retained but I'll spend more time on culture and the arts. I'll probably pull in the whole Lucifer Jones idea and just make that the primary focus - Matters of the Spirit. As for The Conservative Brotherhood and the Old School, I'm pretty much done with the philosophical groundwork. That becomes a much more practical angle over at TCB's portal. I'm not going to waste much time arguing about stuff I already know to be true - no offense to a player but I don't play.

    But that's all to make Cobb a more personal place with more of your input.

    Stay tuned.

    Posted by mbowen at 01:28 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

    November 22, 2005

    Not Wearing My PJs

    Stepping away from the bleeding edge, I'm not in the first wave of the PJ Media. I was invited and considered it for a moment, but man I just must have some kinda real unstated need to stay unadvertised.

    Part of the requirements of PJ Media now known as OSM (Open Source Media) was to arrange your site to be amenable to advertising. I kept thinking about those Google Ads and Blogads I see everywhere and I couldn't bring myself to do it. Well, not for the amount of money my site was assessed at being able to net in a year.

    I don't have any grudge against the endeavor, although I know at least one dude with a fundamental gripe against the business model, and this guy should know. Still, I think it's a good idea if you think that the purpose of the blogosphere is to compete with the MSM. Me, I'm not all on board with that and I don't necessarily want to be called upon for that particular reason. I wear my clothes a little looser than that.

    Ordinarily, I'm an early adopter. But this one, I think I'll let go for now. I wonder if I'll live to regret it.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:07 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

    November 19, 2005

    The Best of Cobb

    I'm in something of a slump these days but I expect that to turn around in a week or so. I'm trying to get over the fact that while I have created 2 wikis and 4 portals in the past 3 months, I'm getting basically no traffic or traction. In addition to that, nothing seems particularly newsworthy - nothing is getting under my skin. I have been playing Homer Simpson with my family.

    In the meantime, I find that I have written some pretty good stuff in the past, and if I ever intend to roll up Cobb and get started with Lucifer Jones, I had better compile it. And so I present to you, The Best of Cobb, a collection in progress.

    If you have any nominations. Just let me know. Comics included.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:44 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

    October 28, 2005

    Conservative Brotherhood Portal

    It's an auspicious week to begin real discussion about where blackfolks on the right of the political spectrum are coming from and going to. So at long last The Conservative Brotherhood has a new website supporting an open forum and a host of features to support community. I have high hopes for the site, and since we're just getting started, the potential and possibilities are wide open.

    Go! Join! Bring it!

    Posted by mbowen at 10:37 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

    October 22, 2005

    Too Black, Too Strong

    I've been manning the guns over at AfricanAmerica.org which has a very healthy debate over black politics and domestic affairs. They have an engaged group of folks and a good volume. It is somewhat reminescent of SCAA in the good old days.

    Also found is the Ascent Blog which is fairly new.

    Posted by mbowen at 01:08 PM | TrackBack

    October 21, 2005

    Cobbski Luv

    I love it when ya call me big Cobbski.

    If I can do, and it turns out that I might can do, I would play George Clinton and say "shine the spotlight on 'em" all about the Black Blogosphere. So now that I've got some paperwork done and survived a self-imposed Tivo marathon of "Invasion", I'm in the mood to take it light. But I'm also still into the flavor and shape of that thing I alternatively call 'The Darkside' and 'The Kwaku Network'.

    I do really want to start the Carnival of the Darkside and get that rolling. So I've bookmarked this joint. I'll figure it out and let you all know. But basically, it's the black blogosphere. The Kwaku Network is less structured but also more well known. I named it after the swahili word for 'Wednesday' as in, the Black Meeting on Wednesday Night. You know, where we all go to get our black information. Of course there is no black meeting on Wednesday night, but who among us has not heard about the Willie Lynch Letter? And where did that come from, huh?

    Either way, I am recalling that two of the coolest brothers online call me Cobbski, and one used to call me 'Tuvok', which is also very cool.

    So without going through all the trouble of segregating my blogroll, I wanted to offer a brief shout out / reference to those I consider the best of the black blogosphere, from my own personal perspective, although in no particular order:

  • Jimi Izrael
  • Bomani Jones
  • Prometheus6
  • Vision Circle
  • Faye Anderson
  • Kim Pearson
  • Negrophile
  • Mac Diva
  • Byron Crawford
  • Afro-Netizen
  • In Search of Utopia
  • Lynn D Johnson
  • Listen To Leon
  • EJ Flavors
  • Dell Gines
  • I'm not saying I read y'all on the regular, but I think anybody who doesn't know about you, doesn't know the half. I'm purposefully leaving out The Conservative Brotherhood, because I think they're seminal and that goes without saying.

    Now I get my RDA.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:26 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    October 18, 2005

    Conyers Alert

    Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Rep John Conyers is blogging this and next week.

    For me, the journey into blogging started with the Howard Dean for President campaign. That campaign's groundbreaking use of the internet made many of us stand up and take notice of a new generation of progressive activists, dissatisfied by the corporate mainstream media (or the "MSM" as they call it. These activists also shared with me a dissatisfaction with the passive politics as usual that has -- at times -- become a modus operandi for the Democratic party.

    After the Dean campaign, I began to talk with many of the architects of this internet strategy, most often with Joe Trippi, about whether the Dean model could be used to benefit congressional Democrats. Trippi was emphatic that it could.

    I think this is probably a first, and Conyers needs a bit of props for stepping into the void. So if you're in the neighborhood, go give him a shout and tell him what's on your mind. What was on my mind was, what the hell took you all so long. Hmm. It couldn't be the myth of the Digital Divide could it?

    See for yourself.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    October 15, 2005

    Blackprof & Residential Integration

    It's about time.

    I found Blackprof just in time. This is the website I've been looking for as I get weary of the attitudes, obscurantism and namecalling of some of my progressive interlocutors.

    A typical para from Blackprof shows they live in reality, have respect for history and aren't afraid of going there:

    Studying race is like studying entomology in that one cannot understand—or even champion effectively—the fortunes of one group without understanding the forces that drive the fates of others. At some periods in history—for example Reconstruction—blacks made great gains while society was systematically depriving Mexicans of their ancestral lands and herding the last surviving Indians onto reservations far from where their ancestors were buried. During World War II, blacks and Latinos registered great gains while Japanese Americans were herded into concentration camps.

    At Blackprof, we start out with a subject near and dear, residential integration. If anything I've done approaches something worthy of a graduate school researcher, it would be some of the time I've spent looking seriously at demographics and race in places to live in this country. I've always felt, and still do, that I have the kind of big city fungible skills such that I could live anywhere in the US that I wanted to. So I live where I want. But I've done some of my own Freakonomic studying before I go. This is why I take the Greensboro folks seriously, among other reasons. I enjoy checking out cities.

    The subject was David Brooks, whose championship of social mobility is right on target. I wrote:

    Brooks is right and has been right for a while. His observations, coincide with mine as we have both been informec by the writings of Joel Garreau.

    When you look at the economics of neighborhood formation, you'll find a great number of variables that go into the decisions of where to build and why.

    I believe many blackfolks limit their social mobility purposefully - that there is an equivalent of 'tipping' on the demand side for new housing. Blacks who are economically capable of moving into new integrated communities will second-guess that decision with as much seriousness as whites on a racial basis. Here in California, my observation is that the resistance to move is lower, but in Georgia it is higher. Surely Massey & Denton have the full scoop, but I believe that given the choice between the old 'hood and the new 'burbs, there are racial reasons to stay among blacks that afford to go.

    I'm looking forward to some interesting insights from these guys that don't make my head hurt.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:46 AM | TrackBack

    October 10, 2005

    What A Difference A JPG Makes

    There's a rainbow before me.

    So Stewart asks me if I know beFrank, the blog of course. And I think for a moment and realize he's not talking about Barney Frank or Joe Frank. I say no. But now I do know and I'm glad of it. I have discovered photoblogs.

    When I was a kid, Pops bought the whole Time Life series on photojournalism and cinematography. If he hadn't sent me into the closet so often with his bulk film loader, I might have had enough interest in the subject to have become a fearless photog. Alas, I fell for the charm of a different kind of technology, but I did learn how to properly pronounce Henri Cartier-Bresson. So I've always had an attraction to the power of the lens.

    In Boston 12 years ago, there was an exhibit at the Central Library that reminded me, once again, of the power of the photograph. Much of that which caught my attention was war photography. There was so much of it, and each shot was so vivid, that it gave me the idea of a cable war channel. If we had a cable war channel with photojournalists covering every hot spot on the planet, it would leaven our understanding of conflict. It would add a dimension to our understanding of our civilization. Instead, the axciom of war being the thing that teaches Americans geography is laden with guilt because we only follow our own wars. We forget how many people die in the world for no good reason, or for good reasons other than our own. There is no such thing as a senseless death. Human brutality is laden with human meaning, it's just that we don't pay much attention and are all to often illiterate of it. That's why it's so easy in the United States to sustain protests of outrage over war. We are not so consistently moral and pacifist as we are mortified by violence - like children wandering into the wrong bathroom would be seeing the raw sex of their peers not knowing it is the focus of human behavior. We need to know how much death goes around, and that's why Michael Yon is something of an inspiration to me.

    I imagine that Yon would be an inspiration to the photobloggers as well. They are subsumed into the action of the moment. Behind the lens they become fearless. It is their instrument. These are the kinds of people we need to be behind. If citizen journalism is to be and the blogger base will eventually provide cover and support, there has got to be more than just writing in the mix. Check out and support photobloggers.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:19 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    October 08, 2005

    What Difference Does Blogging Make?

    Dave Winer threw in the monkey wrench yesterday afternoon by asking this question. The short answer is "It makes a difference to me, so who cares what you think?"

    The long answer is an extension of the same. But let me bring in a tangent from a German dude who put a question to Ambra re: my blogmeme about 100 things:

    I don't want to be a killjoy here, but what is the American obsession with America? I may be German, but my dialog rarely has anything to do with Germany as an entity. My contact with Americans has mostly been through online forums, so this may not reflect the reality, but it seems to me that Americans are very self consious. If anyone mentions some 3rd world country, an American liberal will pipe in - it's Americas fault, we armed the militia, we supported the junta or something similar.

    If an issue of race, for example in South Africa, is brought up - some American will immediately draw the conversation back the race issues in _your_ country. Most Americans, even those that hate America, seem to think that the world revolves around America.

    I've never been there. My sister was, and she said she went on a train, arrived somewhere, and there were ONLY black people there. That was shocking. That a single city can be so segregated that areas are only of one ethnicity. That's the one thing I hate about America, and love about Germany. We blacks in Germany are like chocolate sprinkles on a vanilla cake - spread out everywhere, but in small quantities.

    Jay Rosen says that the ethics of blogging starts with the way that people establish trust. There are a set of expectations between the writer and the reader that once established are an organic set of ethics. Where he was leading with this didn't get completely spelled out but as the conference has moved forward, I have come to some preliminary conclusions.

    One of those conclusions came today in the 'Outsider Blogging' seminar, one that got sidetracked a bit by a touch of obnoxiousness. But one of the many points that was made, one that stood out was that the 'blogosphere' itself is something of a problem. That is to say, as I've mentioned in The Mystery of the Black Blogger, that there is resistance to concept of blogging and the environment of the blogosphere by outsiders because what they want from the internet tools are different than what 'white males' may be using for currently.

    So the issue is that blogs are blogocentric. And in the context of an America-fixated America, there is a great deal of lost potention with regard to attention spans. We are all talking to ourselves about ourselves, and because we all think we are somebody, that's good enough for us. The blogosphere is a mirror, an American mirror, and who gets a word in edgewise? Few.

    But you know what? That's OK, which is the short answer above. Which raises the question about why the question was raised. That goes to Dave Winer.

    I've decided that Dave Winer is an ass. He's not a dumbass and I don't think he's a smartass, but the assness is clearly evident. He has an uncanny ability to speak the obvious in such a way that it makes him appear to be unthoughtful, where he clearly is a thoughtful man. After having heard him jump into about 4 different conversations, often unbidden, it is clear to me that in group situations, he rubs me the wrong way. I'm not the only one. Perhaps it is that he thinks the rest of us are not quite as thoughtful... whatver. If he has a redeeming quality it is that at least he's not a pompous ass. I've known that Winer is a voodoo doll, a magnet for criticism, and now I'v met the man, I'm going to have to read it. I made the damned fool decision to suggest that he might be interested in coding XRepublic. What was I thinking? That's beside the point, if I were really so dedicated to it, I'd be coding instead of blogging, which I am not. Blogging, for the moment, is what's important.

    I understand that the primary problem with blogging is that it is not collaborative. It doesn't generate consensus. But that's about it. How much consensus do we need mediated by computer spaces? We've gotten along fairly well without it for the history of humanity. Nobody knows how to properly abstract all of this monologuing anyway. It's all so much reading material - a new library. Nobody would suggest that libraries be limited until one finds a way to summarize and parse the facts presented therein. And so there you have it. Blogging is a writer's domain and it works for the readers. That's all it needs to be.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:02 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    September 20, 2005

    Converge South is Coming

    ConvergeSouth is coming, and I will be one of the featured panelists.

    As you might imagine, I've got a huge amount to say about the state of blogging and computer mediated communications & augmented decision-making. I'm going to be putting together a wide variety of materials to keep in mind as we discuss all the progress and promise of the medium.

    The primary subject I've been asked to facilitate is that of the creative personna. I've been several different folks over my 13 year online career, each focused on a different communications project. It's all rather second-nature to me now. So I'll discuss the pluses and minuses of being creative online and being something other than you are in real life and how that does and does not split your personality.

    Anyway, the event is free and there will be a lot of top dog bloggers there. So if you're anywhere around Greensboro, NC two weeks from now, you owe it to yourself to attend this blogger conference.

    Posted by mbowen at 06:01 AM | TrackBack

    September 11, 2005

    Caring about Black People

    In his now classic book, Faces at the Bottom of the Well, author Derrick Bell writes a scenario in which white survivalists decide to take up arms against the government of the United States for not caring about black people. He has his character, a black man, rescued by such a cult. By drawing this picture, Bell begs the question of whether blacks care more about fighting anti-black racism or black solidarity. At the time of the books' publication, there was a great deal more fear and discussion about white survivalist groups than there is today, especially in black political circles. These were the days when hammer skinheads were making the news as the new vanguard of militant white supremacy.

    From Bell:

    "We call ourselves White Citizens for Black Survival or WCBS. Our program has two prongs. First, the policy phase we call 'racial realism.' Then the activies phase, in which we aim to build a nationwidew network of secret shelters to house and feed balck people in the event of a black holocauset or som other all-out attack on America's historic scapegoats."

    Not that there's anything so dramatic outside of the Race Traitors that I know of, I bring this up because there are at least a couple of folks with significant blogs and conservative followings who have been keeping it right. John Hawkins and XRLQ are manning the battlestations this week against Steve Sailer of VDare.

    I used to be on the iSteve mailing list, and I forgot exactly how that happened. Very likely I was keeping track of Peter Brimelow and the various groups of white whiners like Jared Taylor and AmRen. Basically, these are the guys who constitute the forefront of the political movement on the ugly implications of The Bell Curve. They've been at it for years - trying to keep white hope alive.

    It has been quite a while since I've seen anything that they've done online. So it's an interesting time to consider what this battle looks like, especially if you're one of my new readers this week who think all black Republicans are Toms. Here you have an opportunity to see right wing Republicans do battle with white supremacists. It's almost as good as Celebrity Deathmatch.

    But seriously, the disconnect between these soft-core white supremacists and the blogospheric right is significant. They're not chummy as some paranoid lefties would have you believe. There is really no love lost. Since the effect of white supremacist activism diminishes over time, this may be a unique opportunity to watch mainstream Conservatives diss them like David Duke who is probably doing his best to energize his cronies in Louisiana.

    Speaking of which, here's one of my favorite paragraph from the news today:

    Mr. Reiss acknowledges that shrinking parts of the city occupied by hardscrabble neighborhoods would inevitably result in fewer poor and African-American residents. But he says the electoral balance of the city wouldn't change significantly and that the business elite isn't trying to reverse the last 30 years of black political control. "We understand that African Americans have had a great deal of influence on the history of New Orleans," he says.

    Of course there are plenty of loudmouth bad guys in the mix too. Nobody is suggesting that there isn't plenty of racist hate online. I just happened to drop by SCAA's 700-post long thread 'Shoot Looters!'. People I hang out with tend to be stunned into silence when they see it. Those of us who have sunk into the depths to fight know how ugly it gets. After a while we get the thousand mile raceman's stare.

    Anyway, aluta continua.

    Posted by mbowen at 05:49 PM | TrackBack

    August 16, 2005

    NRO Covers TCB

    Dan LeRoy over at NRO has given a little digital ink to members of The Conservative Brotherhood:

    Right-of-center black bloggers, in fact, seem to be entering that public eye almost daily. That shouldn't be a surprise, given statistics on growing Internet usage among black Americans, and the revelation that a quarter of young blacks consider themselves conservative (from an eye-opening study conducted by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies and released last month at the Democratic National Convention.)

    From the veteran's perspective of Baldilocks to the playful philosophizing of Ambra Nykol, the Internet is suddenly full of great black writers whose views aren't monolithic — you'll find almost-daily disagreements about affirmative action, President Bush or the morality of gangsta rap — but instead offer a vibrant, hip-hop generation alternative to the broken record of the civil-rights establishment.

    We keep on moving.

    Posted by mbowen at 01:24 PM | TrackBack

    August 15, 2005

    Liars & Bloggers

    There are actually some days when I wish I were an attorney, if only to know what it's like to be hated worse than a black man. Other times, like today I'd like to know the difference between civil and criminal contempt, and in that way I'd understand something about the flap over Bear Flagger XRLQ and even more about the Plame game.

    What I can tell is that it's not ok to call people liars at their own website, especially if they are pedantic. I think this is just the sort of thing that is the difference between the MSM and the blogosphere. Long live the blogosphere, where a spade is a goddamned spade - even if it's all in legalese.

    Posted by mbowen at 06:19 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    August 01, 2005

    The (Slow) Death of a Liberal

    As I read this longish entry over at Neo-Neocon, I saw a few glimmers of self-recognition. All of our stories are different, of course, but if there is a generic coming to the light story, this example is a good one.

    The interesting thing is that I notice that political transformations of this sort are egged on in jumps and starts by harsh confrontation with new realities that don't fit. Those of us who like to consider ourselves up on issues find these jagged little reality pills hard to swallow. They hurt going down and it's always intensely personal. And since most of us don't have actually anything to do with the business of reportage and wonkery it tends to be more of an existential battle with ourselves and our friends than anything else.

    Now that we can self-publish and link up beyond the small circles of our old lives' travels, not only new clarity about the world but of ourselves is possible.

    Kali Tai told me
    in a very studied way that blackfolks have developed a knack of being something else than what we are doing. We have adapted to contingent existentials, we can move quickly in out of modes of communications. Cyberspace suits us well in this regard. The expression of code-switching. So as I consider the existentials of 'being' conservative and all that (in anticipation of questions I expect to field during my upcoming seminars), I wonder if there is something more to it for blackfolks than others.

    I leave it to idle speculation, with one thing in mind which is that stinging argument hurled at African Americans: self-segregation.

    Posted by mbowen at 07:40 AM | TrackBack

    June 25, 2005

    Insular Me

    I just took the MIT Blog Survey. Interesting questions.

    I suspect that my profile is going to stick out a couple ways.

  • I started blogging before 9/11. I was an original blogger with Blogger. Obscura was my little blog.
  • I use IM almost exclusively for business purposes.
  • But the most interesting part of the survey was the last, in which the survey asks what kind of people you know by profession. A good quarter of the people that I actually know are family. I've only met 4 of the 38 types of people I know online. I only know 3 of the 9 blue collar types they listed in the survey. Hmm.

    Posted by mbowen at 03:52 PM | TrackBack

    June 23, 2005

    New Zoo Review

    I don't do this often, but here are some interesting fragments from around the 'sphere.

  • PG County has fleas. Apparently this 'burb lacks the kryptonite that keeps real gangstas and mayhem away.

  • Amsterdam is jumpin' off. Bomani checks in with a love letter from the town he says is everything New Orleans wants to be.

  • Lost as a text adventure. Crack up.

  • Another one bites the dust. Some rapper named 'The Game' is over. Pshaw.

  • There may be more to Fred and Barney's friendship than we've been led to believe.

  • It starts with beef. It ends in tears. I didn't finish this piece on Pimp C, but I'm definitely getting back to it. Compelling story.

  • My new desktop wallpaper.

  • This Wikipedia entry doesn't seem to do anything for my trope on 'The Legacy of Stonewall', which now opens the possibility that I have completely misjudged the Gay Liberation Movement. Well, I've been wrong before.

  • I wanted to write something up on Hamilton Naki, but P6 has got that covered.
  • Posted by mbowen at 07:54 AM | TrackBack

    June 05, 2005

    Listen to Leon

    People say that I talk too much about myself in this blog. No I don't. You still don't know the half. I'm a writer and I am constantly fictionalizing. Don't try to figure me, Cobb is just a personna.

    However, I stumbled upon somebody today that cracks me the hell up. It's Leon. So if there are several things you might be able to impute about me by knowing that Leon's last three blog posts have me on my knees rolling with laughter, go ahead and impute. See if I care.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:08 AM | TrackBack

    April 11, 2005

    It's OK If You Don't Get It

    I'm starting to read Whizbang more and more. I have to say that it's starting to replace Dean's World on my list of big blogs. So imagine my surprise when I find that The Brotherhood is the subject of discussion.

    A commenter posts:

    Why not "Conservative bloggers" or blogroll, whatever. Why the racist theme, membership requirement? And, is that REALLY a characteristic anyone can be assured of as to who joins? Not like you can discern racial type by User I.D., typing, etc. Perhaps you are also suggesting that "black" conservatives display distinct communication skills? And that "white" ones do, too?

    I mean, the entire premise is embarrassingly racist. Be conservatives but drop the elitist racist tags. It's embarrassing for the rest of us...conservatives of any/all racial types.

    While it's clear that he flunked Race in America 101, I think he expresses a sentiment that is not uncommon. In fact, during my time as a race man I came across that fallacious logic so many times that I gave it a name: The Ugly Baby Theory.

    The analogy is pretty good. One childless white couple sees a black couple with a baby and they call the baby ugly. They ask why on earth would anyone have a black baby? They ask, what if all the white people decided to have a baby, implying that the black couple would be as disgusted with white babies.

    The Conservative Brotherhood is our baby. We think it's pretty smart, good looking and fun to be around. We put ourselves into it and this is what we get. We are proud and we're going to show off our baby every chance we get.

    I understand that people don't get it. The impetus behind our ganging up into the Brotherhood is primarily for exposure, no different than the Bear Flag League for me. But the impetus behind the writing we do is deep and complex - it is nothing more nor less than the content of our character and it is inevitably what we would produce, whether or not we were affiliated. Such complexity is not easily explained nor contained. I have trouble explaining it myself. So hey, people who write 500 words on black conservatives have their 500 words. We've got years.

    But that's really not what upsets me today, it's that David Anderson is holding a grudge, or at least smacking me en passant. It's an unintended consquence of a simple oversight on my part, one that I think I've probably not even fixed to show you how dumb I am. For no reason at all, I have failed to blogroll him, and he's taken it personally. At least I think this is the substance of his gripe.

    I understand how important blog patronage is. Clearly, when I had the opportunity to help, I did not. It was a foolish mistake on my part not to take advantage of that opportunity. I respect David as an Angeleno, as a businessman and as a humanitarian, although he could have chosen a better frat. Be that as it may, I accept my smack and blogroll ISOU like I should have done many moons ago.

    Posted by mbowen at 05:19 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

    March 16, 2005

    Metrics for the New Blog Millenium

    I had no idea, all day long that I was getting a spike over the Blog Patronage post. Cool beans. I think it has been my biggest day since Cosby and/or Nick Berg. So while I actually did no surfing today (which is a good idea on your first day at work), I did jot down some notes about metrics for blogging. They are as follows.

    Here are the adjectives: Here are the metrics

    Profligate: Average blog posts per day.

    Profound: Average trackbacks per post.

    Popular: Average visits per day (already in TTLB)

    Pervasive: Links per blog (already in TTLB)

    Populist: Average comments per post.

    Verbose: Average words per post.

    Reverent: Average # of external links per post.

    I'm not going to go to any great lengths to defend these and I think they're pretty self-explanatory. Anyone with a modicum of spare time and SQL skills could manage the programming, and you know that bloggers would break their necks to find out such data on their blogs. I leave the rest as an exercise.

    There are a few other dimensions of blog performance which could be subjected to numerical analysis, but they would require a bit more resourcefulness. For example, how may RSS subscribers does a blog have? How many mentions does the blog get by A-List bloggers? How many mentions by mainstream media. I mention these without having paid much attention to Blogshares, or the recent rates at Blogads.

    Again, I happen to think that blogs are primarily subjectively valuable and not objectively so. But we do play the game of popularity and many bloggers do so for money, just like the mainstream media. Anyone who lists themselves in Technorati, or any of the services plays the ratings game too. Maybe, just maybe we could improve it so that we know more than just popularity and pervasiveness. This is in no way to knock NZ Bear or the Ecosystem. He's the JD Power of the blogosphere and I think we're very fortunate to have that free service. So this is just my modest proposal.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:11 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    March 15, 2005

    Blog Notes

    I'm listening carefully to my readers and critics, and am going to make a strong effort to make reading the comic easier, and looking at syndication possibilities. The change from orange to green is just the first of a few changes around here. I think the result will be a better blog experience for all.

    Stay Tuned.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:17 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    March 14, 2005

    Blog Patronage: A Token of Affection

    Who is the number one black female blogger in the world? That's easy. LaShawn Barber. Why? Because she's untiring in her efforts to get her name out there, she has a compelling blog, and dammit people like her. I'm picking up on her meme today because it's a real enough one to discuss at length, but also because I think it's time (again) that black blogs get their due.

    Just the other day, I ran into some character who thought he was the first black blogger from Detroit. As far as I know, the most popular black blogger from Detroit has been around for at least two years, and got a lot of coverage for an interesting incident that I won't go into. My point is that black blogs have long been around, the question is who is paying attention, and why or why not.

    We are already learning something deep about the dynamism (or lack thereof as it were) of marketshare in the blogosphere. Because of the ways and means of linking, there are blogs that are 'popular' even though nobody is writing on them. For a long time I complained about Rachel Lucas being a higher order lifeform in the TTLB Ecosystem than I was, even though she stopped blogging for over a year.

    In the blogosphere there is a real contingency of patronage. I'm not sure that everyone is so eager to say so, but it's real. As real as is the term 'blogosphere' is the term 'blogfather'. Ask any blogger of substance, and if they're honest (and are abetted by a technical clue or two) they'll know which other blogs send them the most traffic. They will also almost surely know who gave them their big break and under which circumstances that occured. There is not a conspiracy of white male bloggers, and I'd guess all of them would be loathe to admit any such clubbiness, but all popular bloggers belong to a club and none of them are about to delink anytime soon.

    Dead White Male Blogs - The Elvis Factor
    One way to look at the question of whether or not there is a conspiracy to keep all the goods is what [white male] bloggers do to police themselves. I think they don't. I know for a fact that there's a lot of dead linkage out there that nobody really trims, and that this ossifies marketshare. Once popular, always popular. It seems to be a one way function from which few people fall. DenBeste at USS Clueless has over 800 links and he hasn't blogged regularly for many months. In fact, I've been checking his latest post as I write this one and note that he has gotten the equivalent of one week's Cobb traffic in about 90 minutes. Here are several other dead blogs that still suck up oxygen. (I'm giving Andrew Sullivan a pass)

  • Lefty Destroyer
  • Jeff
  • Aaron's Rantblog
  • Calpundit
  • I could go on but it's boring and time-consuming work to slueth through the Ecosystem to see which blogs actually exist. This only strengthens my point.

    Juan Cole & Meritocracy
    I'm one of the people that happens to think that Juan Cole is a brilliant idiot on the level of William Shockley. He is one of those people of which I think the poet referred to as knowing the cost of everything and the value of nothing. In particular, I am speaking of his determined effort to sabotage the moral reasoning for the Iraq War with his incessant and well informed sniping. For this, Cole has generated a number of rivals and enemies in the blogosphere. There are others, Kaus, Kos, Atrios. I think that if the blogosphere were to be considered a meritocracy, Juan Cole would still be near the top. The reason for this is that Cole has reached the tipping point at which he is no longer dependent on the politics of blogrolling. Which is to say that he gets plenty of traffic without mutual linking, without supporting comments and without trackbacks. He's out there, unassisted, influential.

    The rest of us poor slobs, and I would consider myself a poor slob on the order of Unfogged, although I have been compared to Lileks, need mutual blogrolling, league membership, comment traffic and other methods of enlightened self-interest to maintain or improve our status as noteworthy and readable. These practices, affectionately known as 'link whoring' are a stock in trade among the B-List and Blog Rabble which I would consider to be anyone less evolved than a Primate in the TTLB Ecosystem.

    The Gratuitous, Qualified Pitch
    At Cobb, I have consistently refused advertising. I think ads would make my site look hideous, they add nothing of value, and I couldn't possibly get paid enough with my current volume to justify them. I also haven't advertised. I simply can't afford it right now, plus I can't think of a cool enough slogan at the moment. I am also already a Large Mammal and living large is enough for me, sorta.

    On the other hand, I do think that we're in a state of disgrace when it comes to the national recognition of black bloggers. As pitiable a situation as that is, I don't know that there is a list or that I'd want to be on it, considered separately. In other words, I know that when it comes to pure bloggy merit, there are a lot of African Americans that are deserving of a lot more traffic and recognition than they get, and I think Cobb ought to do a lot better than it does in terms of traffic. But, I'm not sure there's a simple solution.

    I've decided to do something about that with regard to advertisement, but what I haven't really considered until now is the power of Affirmative Action, or more properly speaking: Tokenism.

    I hereby submit Cobb for the consideration of all A-List Bloggers as the Head Negro in Blogs. Send me your poor, huddled vanillified readers yearning to breathe diversity. I lift my banner beside the olive greed sidebar! But since I also link to more black blogs than the average bear, I know the trickle down will continue.

    I do so with the confidence of years of blogging and writing online that have thus far so nobly advanced me. And I also do it as a publicity stunt, and further and most importantly I do it because I understand that the dynamics of patronage in the blogosphere is the most important factor in launching a blog's popularity. If anyone anywhere today is saying that blogging is a white male domain, then they clearly do not know about how huge the blogosphere is and how many women and non-whites are active and popular. But there is the big unanswered question about whom the A-List Bloggers consider to be representative of those outside the top of their blogrolls. I've been a hot blog launched by DenBeste and by The Agonist (my blogfathers) when they were at their peaks, and I certain am appreciative of that, but I have never before sought nomination. The very persistence of the question of black blogs amidst 'white male hegemony' demands that the real black bloggers please stand up, and it's about time. But you and I both know that the A-List Bloggers or the MSM have to say it's an issue before the average blog reader, or average American takes notice and says 'hmm, I wonder...'.

    Bottom line, merit in the blogosphere is what the top bloggers say merit is, and they allocate it out by referring to blogs with which they are engaged in conversation. I don't think that's going to change much. Blogs move not only on their own power but on their ability to get big bloggers to compete, cooperate or otherwise notice and comment on them.

    And the People Say..
    On the other hand, the phenominal rise of LaShawn Barber over the past year puts a distinct question to me, which is that while she has gotten very popular, most of us, her mates in the Conservative Brotherhood have remained pretty much where we were. Although I can speak only speak for myself, the big rush has not come, and trickle down just might not be real. So why second guess the market? Perhaps it's altogether true that people are indeed finding exactly what they want in the blogosphere from blacks, whites, women and everybody else who identifies some orientation to their writing. There isn't going to be a technical revolution in blog traffic monitoring, and the 'sphere is mature. All change from here on out is going to have to be phenomenon-based.

    But that does not dissuade me from believing that Cobb and other purposefully black [political] blogs could use some publicity. We have something to say and we're worth reading. But until somebody with marketshare says so, we remain as we are. Obscure, poor and somewhat reconciled the the fact that our say so only reaches a paucity of eyeballs. And so we keep stepping.

    Disclosure: According to the TTLB Ecosystem, Cobb ranks 1510th in average daily traffic with 137 readers per day. Cobb ranks 721st overall with 184 links.

    Technorati: blogging_while_black
    SXSW Liveblogging: Blogging While Black
    Snarky Commentary at The Captains Quarters.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:54 AM | Comments (23) | TrackBack

    March 13, 2005

    Come Back Five Years Ago

    I just discovered that my first blogs have been retained all of these years. Whoda thunk? So my next little project is to integrate the past into this current blog. So if suddenly you see some interestingly odd stuff happening with my archives or RSS, now you know. You'd think I'd give props to Blogspot. OK I do, but they still don't get to host it.

    Posted by mbowen at 07:16 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    March 03, 2005

    Black Bloggers Association

    Ric Landers has got it going on.

    His Black Bloggers Association website has only been around a couple months, and I find that I'm using it more and more. I use Yahoo RSS feeds to keep up with all the blogs and syndicated stuff I like to check first, but on the black hand side, Blacklogs is number one.

    Posted by mbowen at 01:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    February 15, 2005

    Bloggers & The Day Job

    Mike Peska put together a snarky commentary on blogs and bloggers this morning on the air. The nice mischaracterization he makes is the distinction implied between bloggers and people with day jobs.

    The best bloggers blog their day jobs. But beyond that, the blogosphere as a group have a good excuse not to watch television. We're generally critical of the MSM. According to AC Nielsen, the average American watches 3.75 hours of television per day. Speaking for myself, I watch about 2, and since I use Tivo it's on my schedule. I also listen to about 90 minutes of NPR on a daily basis, all in the car. Since I sleep only about 7 hours a day and generally work about 30 hours a week (self-employed, you know) I get a lot of time to blog. But simply halving your television watching and turning it into blogtime is plenty time.

    I'd also argue that the best bloggers are fairly voracious readers, and that makes all the difference. I've got Yahoo tracking headlines for about 12 different RSS feeds, and Blogrolling lets me know who has got something new to say. I've got 12 news sources, including Google News - an aggragation itself, that tab out in Firefox which I periodically check.

    My point is that a significant portion of the blogosphere represents a flight to quality. Journalists themselves have been a large part of online communities since the dawn of Internet time, notably at the Well. If large names in the journalism community are fearful of large names where blogging meets journalism then this is only noticeable because, well journalists get a lot of attention. But among the top blogs are attorneys and economists as well, and the blogosphere's appeal comes not only because of any opposition or even conflict with the profession of journalism itself, but simply because a large number of intelligent people enjoy communicating with other intelligent people.

    In the opening few minutes of Peska's piece, a reference was made to the effect that a relatively small number of people read blogs, as compared to the mainstream media. Well, a relatively small number of people read the New England Journal of Medicine too, or the Economist for that matter. That demographic is smack dab in the core of the blogosphere. All one needs to do is eyeball the blogroll of popular sites like Crooked Timber and you get an idea of the people we are dealing with. Sure there will be great swells of blog traffic when issues like Plame, or Nick Berg videos hit, but on a daily basis a lot of us are pretty damned serious.

    If mainstream journalists have a bit of a yellow streak about them, it must surely be that in the blogosphere full-time geeks have more than five minutes of fame bracketed by anchor banter. The audience here actually does spend the time and wants the gritty technical details of the sort which are almost never aired or printed.

    What they really have to worry about is that such geeks may be soon be overlapping with those sources they are so eager to protect. Imagine a world where whistleblowers decide to self-publish to the blogosphere rather than to big news organizations.

    See Also

  • American Digest
  • Roger L. Simon

    Posted by mbowen at 12:18 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
  • February 12, 2005

    Blogswarm Triumphant

    It has been official for almost 20 hours now. Eason Jordan lies under the tornado house, his little feet slowly curling into balls. Who now wears the ruby slippers? The blogosphere does not, we cannot. We have too many feet. We are like swarming sentinels in search of The One. A new One will appear, and he will beware.

    Here's the way I see it. There are actually hundreds of good ideas, millions perhaps. But as we look backward in time, there have only been a few to circulate them. The blogosphere is the energized part of the international web of ideas and it is expressing its ability to circulate more than the current generation of media can. This is a greater power and a more sophisticated one than even the Cluetrain signers considered. But it is not necessarily a force for good, it is simply a force to be reckoned with. Today, that force has momentarily become arrowlike, pointing in the direction of Eason.

    The Blogosphere is set to become a more deliberative medium. The right advances in the toolset will objectify all these deliberations. Then, the true power of the blogosphere will become evident. It won't be the blogosphere - it will be something else. This is the beginning of a real revolution.

    Posted by mbowen at 01:27 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

    February 09, 2005

    The Month of Blogging Dangerously

    I've solved the group black blog problem.

    It suddenly occured to me that the problem with having a black group blog is that sooner or later, everyone would get sick of it. So I've come up with a solution: The Month of Blogging Dangerously.

    I'd have to fund, organize and build the whole thing because I don't believe in... whatever it is that happens when somebody says, let's do this big black thing. There's some unnamed committee dynamic that just wrecks good ideas. But the Month of Blogging Dangerously basically goes like this:

    You get the hottest black bloggers in the 'sphere to contribute for one month to a free-for-all black blog. You announce it ahead of time, and you buy massive advertising on the biggest blogs and maybe a few non-blogs like Africana, Black Voices, Slate and whomever else. All that matters is that you get a big fat blast out to start, and a dozen good writers to contribute for a month. Instant insanity. Huge hits, tremendous exposure. At the end of the month, everybody goes back to their regularly scheduled blog. Fait accompli.

    The domain becomes a placeholder with ads and referrals to the bloggers and that's the name of that tune. A million blogger march. It's brilliant.

    Anybody have $10,000? I didn't think so. Anyway, you heard it here first, and I am the poster child for what's friggen wrong with this country. African Americans are undercapitalized.

    Posted by mbowen at 03:56 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    January 27, 2005

    Tony Pierce, Asian Inscrutability & Blogging While Black

    If Tony Pierce was black like me, I would have been all over this business about African Americans sooner. As it stands, I think he is not. It's not a problem at all, but it is a real distinction. I'm trying to figure out whether anybody should be annoyed about that or not.

    Some time ago when blogging was new I got into a fairly large discussion about The Mystery of the Black Blogger. As with everything else, there was a big to do about the matter, a lot of people got involved and several myths were busted and a lot of interesting questions investigated, some even answered. Then everybody shutup and went home, until Bill Cosby shot off his mouth.

    I haven't spent much time talking about 'race relations' or racism here at Cobb, relatively speaking, but the question of identity has come around to my attention since I've taken a position with a company HQ'd in Beijing. And I think I am particularly alert to the matter with respect to Asian ethnic and racial identity these days.

    Raise Your Hand
    For a long time, especially when I was knee deep in the Affirmative Action Wars, I despaired of figuring out what Asians thought of the stereotypes applied to them over that particular issue. Try as I might, I could never get any consensus, largely due to a pretty mindblowing dearth of Asians who would write about the subject in all the places we blackfolks and whitefolks were carrying on about it. While this bothered me, especially as I was trying to make some multicultural sense about it, I gradually got over the Asian default. Asians, I reasoned, are simply not interested in joining the battle over their image in America. They are massively outgunned and have decided that it's not worth the fight. Asians don't care about the 'asian image'; It's a yellow thing that we'll never understand in a million years, so why even try?

    I've started to break through my own resentful resignation about this situation for my own selfish reasons, but I don't expect much. Still, the exchange between Tony Pierce about blogging blackness and Zulieka about Asian identification is really priceless. So much is said by what's not said. I think a great deal is not said mostly because I percieve that both bloggers understand that their popularity is driven by an audience that doesn't care about such details.

    As for Tony himself, I know that he's an LA dude, but we don't have much in common. I haven't read his blog in quite some time. I'm sure I could hang out with him if I was in a particularly vodka sloshed, loft-hangout, artsy-fartsy alternative rock mood, but I don't often hang with folks who have more tatoos than they have children, and I get the distinct feeling that Tony has a high ratio. (Not that there's anything wrong with that). From my personal perspective the Busblog is mostly good for trolling the LA underground rock scene and getting lots of pictures of sexy white chicks. That can occasionally be fascinating, but quite frankly I'd rather talk about sexy white chicks in the abstract. The topic wouldn't survive long at Cobb, nor with the blogs I frequent.

    Survival of the Trackbackiest
    In the end, the survivors define what is authentic, useful and real about a people. African Americans define more to the listening world what is black than all the blacks in Africa combined. It's not fair that Don Cheadle is the star of 'Hotel Rwanda' and not a real Hutu, but that's the way it goes. The internet and blogging by their very nature allow us to spectate right to the source. And everybody blogging is trying, to a certain extent, to represent themselves truthfully. It seems to me that the surviving representations are those which are quirky enough to remain interesting over time. But it must be remembered that the quirks of an individual are just that. You can't finish talking about a subject until it has been cross-polinated, and that's one of the reasons I have decided to hijack the topics from my own perspective.

    As with most every subject and situation, I am always more pleased to have more blackfolks where I am. It is because I grew up in an era in which we weren't often taken seriously as individuals. The more blackfolks there were, the more individual we each could afford to be. When there's only one fly in the buttermilk, you spend a lot of time telling nons who you are not. That still happens. It's still all about the burden of representation, and I want a whole lot of us to survive. So for that reason, I give props to Tony, just for blogging his little heart out, and surviving. More space for me.

    Now if I could only get three different Asians to comment...

    Posted by mbowen at 12:17 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    January 19, 2005

    On Blog Addiction

    (I'm busting this one out the door - been sitting in draft too long)

    How long have you been blogging?
    I have been blogging about 28 months. I have been writing online for 11 years.

    Do you believe you're addicted to blogging? Please explain, and be honest.
    I'm a writer, and blogging is just a form of writing. I am particularly enamored of the form because of what the blogosphere has become. I wouldn't consider writing an addiction because of the negative connotation. I am no more addicted to writing than I am to working. I suppose if the world were a different place I wouldn't write, but it's not. I intend to keep writing until my fingers fall off.

    That said, blogging does enforce a kind of discipline on me that at times I feel reluctant to break. I will comment on these pressures as 'addictive' in the ways they are unique to blogging but not other forms of online writing.

    A. Oxygen
    What is singularly unique about the blogosphere is the extent to which one's contribution to the overall discussion appears to be uniquely one's own. I call this 'sucking the oxygen'. Certain individuals, because they are popular, get an inordinate amount of traffic because they are popular. Sort of like the definitioin of a celebrity: people who are famous for being famous.

    Even though people have web counters, and overall traffic goes up on the blogosphere. This is different from participation in a usenet or email discussion in that those have more of the feeling of a collective discussion. But the hits on your thread feel like they are your own. I say that it is difficult to disaggregate one's own worth or value as a writer from the value of the blogosphere at any one particular time. Some research ought to be done which could quantify that.

    There are several examples that come quickly to mind. When the Nick Berg video was released, overall traffic to the internet rose, and search engines pointed to blogs. So whatever bloggers wrote about Nick Berg, we created a kind of artificial gravity. As an individual blogger that feels like it's about what you are writing. I know that I put all kinds of keywords in my posts, rather shamelessly that week.

    Also, however, as a black blogger, I know that the recent controversy over certain comments made by Bill Cosby directed more traffic to my blog. I tend to believe that I legitimately own more of that gravity. I often also refer to popularity / issue bandwidth as 'oxygen', which is to suggest that interest in reading blogs is in short supply and certain bloggers are genuinely capable of sucking up the oxygen on a given issue, to the detriment of others.

    Part of that is due to the interactive nature of the blogosphere. However I think I am unique in a couple ways. I think it is important to say that I consider myself to be a fairly popular blogger. Nothing spectacular, believe me, but I am a Large Mammal and I take that seriously. I have international links and something of a core readership. All this goes to say that I worked for an audience and I feel a certain responsibility to them which is different from other forms of online writing.

    Firstly, ever since the advent of blog spam, I have taken certain countermeasures and despite my best efforts to be welcoming of comments, people have been put off by the lack of interactivity this has forced on the site. So


    Have you ever taken a hiatus? If so, for what reason and how long?
    Not really. I may have gone four or five days without blogging, although sometimes I think I go that long without a good idea to share. Still, I consider myself to be a fairly original contributor.

    Have you ever thought of giving up your blog? Why or why not?

    Yes. The first reason is that in blogging itself I have defined a mission. Which is to say that I started blogging to achieve a particular goal, and I believe that for the most part that goal has been achieved to my satisfaction. I have adopted a fairly particular style and range of subjects for this blog, both of which have broadened over time, perhaps to a the detriment of its original purpose.

    The second reason is that I anticipate moving to China for a couple years. I am not sure that I can blog from there. If I can, I almost certainly will create a new blog.

    The third reason is that I can see myself subsuming my writing under the auspices of a group blog.

    The final reason and most likely to affect me is the tax of actually working. I am a fairly energetic individual and my writing is more important to me than watching TV or gaming. However there are occasions when I work so hard during the day that I don't feel like doing any writing in the evening. Fortunately, or unfortunately as the case may be, since I am a genius, nobody has yet given me a job which could be so intellectually demanding that it would suck all of the oxygen out of my mind such that I had no energy to write constructively about other subjects. However if that were the case, I'd probably just blog about my job.

    Posted by mbowen at 01:35 PM | TrackBack

    December 17, 2004

    Black as a 'Thing to Be'

    Negrorage is a new blog out there which is fairly long on thought. Tagging along for the ride on the Black vs Nigger question we find ourselves deep into the existentials. I assert a thing or two, raising the stakes:

    This is good stuff. But it's interesting how post-modern and abstracted it is, not that it's anyone's fault. We all suffer a bit of that. But I'm going to say two words that should kind of put all of this in perspective, and if you meditate on them long enough then they should be evocative enough to fill a stadium of proper associations. "Mahalia Jackson".

    Sometimes I wonder how many black youth get all of their sense of blackness from reading the memories and fictions of black authors. As 'real' as 'Beloved' the novel is, it remains something created from the imagination of Toni Morrison. The fact of the matter is that I would prefer that such verisimilitudes become the blackground. They form a set of useful fictions. But evidently we are in a cycle in which Americans would prefer that every decade has a distinct meaning, and every generation has its own different mission. Brokaw is not far off when he asserts that his generation does not have a mission relatively speaking.

    But the author has nailed a concept that I think is pretty sharp, which is looking at blackness as a 'thing-to-be'. It makes the distinction between an identity under the influence of cross-currents and redefinitions, and a placeholder for a future sense of being. It is this distinction, with an emphasis on the second part, which is really interesting to me. It relates very well to the state of ungrownupness I sense in a lot of these discussions, especially the latest one concerning the cinematic depiction of some fantastic creation of one Ursula Le Guin, named 'Ged'.

    How do we get so far away from Mahalia Jackson that we need to complain about the shade of Ged? My answer is that we cannot unless we have completely dissed our parents. The very concept that America or anyplace has an endless supply of identity buckets for its youth to assume is very post-modern, weird and an enemy of the Old School. This longing for a proper black thing-to-be, this need for becoming is a little more twisted than the standard 'be-when-I-grow-up' and yet it's the same problem. There's not enough of something to anchor one in a set of circumstances that lock identity. We cannot accept the conditions (not me, we) of our nativity, so we become vulnerable to the fictions of those who would help us 'know ourselves' or be 'true to ourselves'.

    So where is the black Popeye who says 'I yam what I yam'? All over. Not asking nor answering questions, I imagine.

    It's true that in America we have too much space to negotiate our identity. We are not essentially anything. We are identity-mobile to the extreme. But I think we should nail that down and *add* to our basic selves some skills and abilities, rather than remake ourselves. The only glitch is that millions of Americans start off so twisted that they don't have a valuable enough self (to themselves) that they see it possible to augment that self towards nobility. They feel that they have an un-self-actualizable self. I accept that. I call such people peasants, and as far as I'm concerned that's what they are. A lot of African American fall into that peasant bucket, and those are the ones whom are especially suceptible to 50 page books: Afrocentrism, Message to the Blackman, The Isis Papers, et al. You can debate their value but the very fact that they exist at all is testimony to this craving desire to have a black thing-to-be.

    Is it real, this hunger, this existential cesspool of confusion, this legacy of slavery, this native alienation? Yeah. Real enough. But it's not unique. There are peasants all over the world, and their difficulties with modernism are the same. I expect to find a great deal of it in China, which means as I have heard, that the emergent new money there is more addicted to bling than Puffy.

    I suspect that people everywhere who will inevitably be empowered by new technologies will also inevitably deal with the pain of modernism and the need to become something other than what their parents expected them to be. It will be part of their struggle as individuals and as a people. If you get a chance, rent the video 'Brother' with Omar Epps. Watch what happens in the expressions of the young gangstas as they ineptly inherit power and wealth. They jump uncomfortably into the roles given to them by the man to whom they owe their lives. And they are trapped. But they were only vulnerable because they felt the need to become. It's the problem of peasants all over as they encounter the deadly liberation of the modern world.

    Sometimes it's better to stay down in the piney woods and sing Precious Lord.

    Posted by mbowen at 05:38 PM | TrackBack

    November 22, 2004

    Treo 650 Blogging

    Note to self: Get hBlogger.
    Also keep track of Patterico's quest.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:26 AM | TrackBack

    November 12, 2004

    A Literary Beowulf Cluster

    But people on the Beowulf side may never have taken a writing class in their life. They just tend to lunge at whatever looks interesting to them, write whatever they please, and let the chips fall where they may. So we may seem not merely arrogant, but completely unhinged.
    -- Neal Stephenson

    I have just come to understand something with a clarity heretofore impossible, clouded as it has been with feelings. Thanks Neal. I'm a Beowulf writer, as are most of us bloggers.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:23 PM | TrackBack

    November 07, 2004


    I have procured the Cobb.org top level domain, and over the next few weeks, transfer this puppy over. I simply don't have the time nor the inclination to do all this crap myself, so I'll be hiring out the task. If you can point to a decent looking site you've done and want the business, drop me an email (mb@mdcbowen.org). Otherwise I'm going to bite the bullet and call Sekimori.

    In the new world of Cobb.org the comments will work and world hunger will end as will global warming. We'll also rid Minnesota of mosquitos and put John Kennedy back in the White House. Stay tuned, and thanks for your perserverance.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:29 AM | TrackBack

    October 06, 2004

    Stupid TEst

    blah blah

    Posted by mbowen at 11:05 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Comment Moderation

    This crap doesn't seem to be performing the way I want it to, so please be patient while I figure out what I'm doing stupid. Comments look like they are disappearing, but they're just being cached for me to moderate.

    I thought that once I approved a comment, then that commenter would be approved for life, but it doesn't even take my comments. So I'm going to be flipping a lot of switches until I get it right. MT documentation could use a bit of work. But I'm short on time to get all this right... It won't be wrong long, just keep posting.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:13 AM | TrackBack

    October 05, 2004


    Cobb and VisionCircle are being upgraded. We're going to make a few changes around here. Please bear with us as we move to the newest version of Movable Type.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:46 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    September 06, 2004

    The Hook

    Well, it's clear that we have the critical mass to create the black hole even though some stars decided to stay in their own orbits, but from all sorts of matter, this thing will be born.

    Discussions are going further and we'll have something nice before the end of the year. It promise to be fabulous and fascinating.

    I am on the hook to make that work, of course. And I am off the hook for my blog hiatus. But that makes me on the hook for writing more blog stuff whereas my mind has been elsewhere.

    The hook of the new site has not yet been decided by the adhoc blackhole planning committee, but I have a lot of confidence given the quality of ideas currently spewing that it will be decidedly compelling. I think it will live up to its potential, which is all one can ask.

    Stay tuned.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:57 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    September 03, 2004

    The Black Hole

    I am not going to post another entry on Cobb until 20 black bloggers agree to start a singularity in the blogospheric universe. I have been provoked, and I can find no good reason not to have a black group blog that will climb into the top of the Ecosphere. Let's see if the blogosphere thinks we're just playful primates.


    Posted by mbowen at 11:24 AM | Comments (40) | TrackBack

    September 01, 2004

    Famous Last Words: AfricaPundit

    AfricaPundit has been incactive for several months. As I review my blogroll I found his last post somewhat inspiring. Whenever I see people carrying children it makes me feel good.

    I'd say carrying babies piggy-back is probably a reflection of African ideas about proper childrearing. When a mother carries her baby, she is always available to feed, burp, change, or comfort whenever the baby gets whiny. You'd think that all this attention would lead to spoiled children, but everything seems to work out somehow.


    Posted by mbowen at 02:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    August 23, 2004

    Malkin v Matthews

    I have never had a reason to like Michelle Malkin, only a reason to dislike her, namely for her suggestion that MEChA members have their motives interrogated by major media. It's ironic that her snarky call for Katie Couric to play 'hardball' with the Mechistas is exactly the pickle she found herself in last week.

    We have just been debating the necessity of dropping the loudmouths from conversations vis a vis 'intellectual non-violence'. I think that the ultimate result of that kind of discipline will result in a higher general quality of debate, with fewer debaters. It's clear that the blogosphere will roll on in any case, and I am hopeful that lessons like these are not fogotten.

    For the record I have disliked Chris Matthews from day one. He has always been a fast-talking hounddog with no tact nor respect for nuance. What Keith Olbermann is doing reporting politics is anybody's guess.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:07 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    August 11, 2004

    Ed Brown at Vision Circle

    Ed Brown is one of the many people I have known from many years of collaboration, conflict and correspondance over the net, but have never met face to face. I have come to respect his tenacity and probity over the years. Ed doesn't let you come incorrect and can be counted on to shock you into rapid awareness. He takes nothing for granted and suffers few fools, and so it is with great pride that I am able to bring him to a wider audience through VisionCircle.

    He has hit the ground running with questions about SBA loans to black business and the illogic of partisanship. I expect that soon he'll actually introduce himself. In the meantime, be prepared for a treat and a bracing experience.

    Posted by mbowen at 02:09 PM | TrackBack

    August 05, 2004

    White Male Bashing

    The LA Weekly reviews 'What's Wrong With Kansas' and bashes white male conservative bloggers for being who they are. There's nothing wrong with bashing white males, but there's something a little weird about bashing white males for being wrong when you don't highlight what's right about those who are not. It all seems a bit essentialist to me.

    I can't say that I read enough of Lileks, Sullivan and Taranto to know if they are indeed pontificating tightwads as author Thomas Frank suggests. But I don't understand what's so white about that. Perhaps the following is a clue:

    Frank can explain them, these entitled but curiously persecuted Tucker Carlsons of the paramedia, because he might have been one himself. Having grown up in Mission Hills, Kansas, a tidy suburb just over the border from Kansas City, Missouri, Frank admits he had been lulled into the notion of a classless society by play dates with millionaires children. He spent his adolescent years as a bitter self-made man in training, constructing debate-team dis-ads against liberalism (any argument worth its salt had to end with the other teams plan somehow precipitating a nuclear war), and classifying businessmen as working-class because, after all, they worked for a living. When one of his fellow debaters announced he planned to pursue a political future as a Democrat because that was the party of the working class, Frank took it hard.

    I remember the moment he said this with the perfect frozen clarity that the brain reserves for great shocks: Pearl Harbor, 9/11 . . . Class conflict between workers and businessmen?

    It wasnt until college that Frank finally got religion: While his peers landed sweet summer jobs in their dads friends banks, Frank, a workingmans son, was consigned to dreary summer temp work designed to show me the round of boredom and frustration that is most peoples lot in life. Other boys went off to Ivy League schools; Frank had to settle for Kansas University, where even the fraternities reserved for young men from a dominant class with its middle finger in the air to the world didnt want anyone so low on the social ladder. In time, he was disabused of his classless fantasies and did a very un-Kansas thing: I started voting Democratic.

    Sounds like a personal problem to me. Not having enough privilege to satisfy his own ambition, he attacks the idea of privilege. Not very sporting of him. But I suppose if you want to lay underemployment at the feet of The Man you will have a lot of company. Not exactly an orginal idea. Hell, I'm underemployed and I know it's The Man's fault. Why oh why aren't wealthy people making me rich? The story of my life. But what exactly does this have to do with the blogosphere? That's where I lose the thread.

    Chalk it up to another jab at Ann Coulter. Lord only knows why she's worth mentioning. I mean it's not as if she couldn't be abducted from Conservatism and videotaped in bondage. I think some creative and gutsy people might like to ransom her in exchange for a troop withdrawl of the VRWC. No? Well, then if it's not that deep, then we ignore.

    The other day, I was informed that a blog with only 300 hits a day was considered tiny. Hell, I thought I was a Large Mammal. But that informant may be right after all. This has got to change. We non-whitemale bloggers need more attention.

    Posted by mbowen at 01:10 PM | TrackBack

    June 24, 2004

    An Opening

    I've been linked to Rafe Coburn for a long time. He's a great programmer and has a very sharp and analytical mind, but his politics have often grated on my nerves. But today Rafe has said something that gives me a greater measure of respect for him. It's not often that a Liberal will admit that they are closed-minded and it is a sign of maturity when they finally say so.

    Granted, he uses the opportunity to say that the President is the kind of loser he used to be, but at least the parallel is made. As we discussed earlier, it is ever a quality of leadership that you must sacrifice pondering to the Cause.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:03 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    June 16, 2004

    From Rabid to Reasonable

    Six Apart's new pricing scheme for MT now makes perfect sense. Good job guys. This is something I think everyone can live with.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:20 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    June 05, 2004

    Nigritude Ultramarine

    What is Nigritude Ultramarine? It doesn't mean anything, but it might prove useful for reasons I'm still unclear about. Anyway, Anil and Gerard did it, so I'm doing it too. Someday I'll understand.

    Posted by mbowen at 07:49 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    May 18, 2004

    Keeping It Right

    Now is the time for all good African American bloggers on my side of the fence, to come to the aid of themselves. I'm feeling blackified today, and this happens from time to time. It's not what I'm all about but it goes pretty deep. So this is an open letter to my bretheren. Let's league up.

    Most of us know of each other's blogs. We often end up on the same blogrolls. But I think we should come up with a logo and reserve a place. Nothing's mutually exclusive of course, I'm a proud Bear Flagger. That's not going anywhere.

    A year or so ago, I opened up a website called OldSchoolRepublicans.net. It died and became VisionCircle, which could also use a little traffic. But while Vision Circle is still hopping along on one leg, it's needs its own evolution and it would be too egocentric of me to suggest we all do something there. I am not opposed at all to doing a joint group blog. I like 'Niagra Two' but I think a Leauge and a logo would be the easiest thing to do right now.

    Me myself, I get tired of black socialists. Not because I hate them, but I just think they are wrong on many critical issues and I'm tired of hearing them repeat themselves. I think the black right needs to be heard a bit more clearly and I know we need to understand and differentiate ourselves. Some of us are Christian Conservatives, some of us are Moderate Republicans, some of us are Libertarian, some of us are Independents who can't stand Jesse & Al. Some of us are even Democrats just waiting for an excuse to go in a new direction. All of us are in various stages of political maturity and sophistication. But we're all politically divorced from the Left. It's not that don't have any love left, we just can't live under the same roof any longer.


    Baldilocks? Thornton? Barber? Tooley? Shay? Black Right are you with me?
    (oh yeah, we got it right and ain't goin' nowhere!)

    I would suggest the following as our litmus test, that which I consider the core of the Old School Values. It's not particularly ideological, but I can't see how you could be considered Right if you don't conserve these values.

    We are African Americans of all backgrounds and ethnicities. We are proud of our heritage, and respect the lives, triumphs and tribulations of our forebears in this country and beyond. We aim to represent their greatest hopes for us and honor their memory.

    The United States of America is our home, not simply by default but by choice. We take our duty to our home seriously and we defend it. We seek to improve it by our work and values and leave it better than we found it.

    We are extended families and we put family first. It is the primary organization to which our lives are dedicated. We fight for the proper upbringing of our children. We demand respect and consideration of our elders. We love and support our brothers and sisters.

    We work twice as hard and sometimes get half as far, but we work with dignity and we expect and enjoy our rewards. We are not materialistic but we know the value of a dollar. We seek self-improvement through creativity, dedication and effort in our jobs, businesses and partnerships.

    We have abiding faith in God and the principles of righteousness. We strive to be true to transcendent values and take the long view of our purpose on Earth. We conduct ourselves as vessels of spirit and we guard our own souls and the souls of others from corruption.

    We believe in the rule of law and rights of people to be free and to determine their own fate. We fight tyranny and oppression of all kinds keeping in mind the battles of those who struggled and died that we might be free.

    We believe in a tolerant and open society, and we welcome all people to enjoy its benefits and responsibilities.

    UPDATE: To subscribe to the Keeping It Right mailing list click here.

    Posted by mbowen at 01:47 PM | Comments (31) | TrackBack

    May 14, 2004

    Passion of the Berg

    Uncensored Nick Berg Beheading Video!!!

    I'm doing it purposefully by putting 'Nick Berg' in the caption, but on the whole I'm a bit disgusted with the link whoring going on.

    The blogosphere is what it is, and little about the latest turn of events is changing what we are collectively. Most of us got our start blogging about the war in Afghanistan and Iraq anyway, but what we have become is much more than that. The blogosphere is a realization of what many of us computer folks have been wanting since the days of Fidonet: a way to connect intelligent people with things to say that aren't dumbed down by television, or exploited for dollars by universities. So I think it is inevitable that whatever interesting events go on in the world, there will be fascinating commentary to be found here. Commentary is one thing, hosting this video is something else.

    It was none other than Prince who said of today's foul-mouthed rap stars, you eventually get the audience you deserve. So when some bloggers start complaining about the idiot comments they start getting, perhaps they'll look back at this moment with regret. I said before and I say again don't look at the video. It's repulsive and disgusting, and it doesn't tell us anything about jihadists that we didn't already know. Although I'm certain many have been shocked out of complacency by its gut wrenching qualities, it doesn't inform, it enflames.

    Like every writer on the net, I am tempted to take advantage of whatever is popular and interesting even when I think it has been talked to death. All that goes into the Obligatory Seriousness Department. But I refuse to host this propaganda. People who need to see it can see it where they can, there's always someone to accomodate appetites. But I can't do that in good conscience and I really think bloggers are doing themselves a disservice by making hay of its publication.

    I don't believe that anyone who watched 'The Passion of the Christ' by Mel Gibson, learned more about what Christianity is all about. Despite the huge spash it made worldwide, the film wasn't made of the stuff that changes minds. People who realize that should also realize that the Nick Berg video is not where to go to become informed about what we're involved in overseas. The same is the case for the Abu Ghraib pictures and the Rodney King video. What you really need to know is behind the scenes.

    I have every expectation that the blogosphere will redeem itself from this grisly diversion. It remains primarily a written medium, and good writing will out. So I call on all bloggers with the good sense to call Gibson as a sensational propagandist to make the same call on the filmers of Nick Berg's tragic execution. Don't Host It.

    Posted by mbowen at 01:00 PM | Comments (27) | TrackBack

    MT at the Crossroads

    Movable Type announced the availability and pricing of their newest edition, MT version 3. I say HA!.

    The fact of the matter is that 100 bucks isn't much to ask considering what you get. On the other hand, there isn't really anything wrong with the version I have except for its vulnerability to spam. But now that I upgraded to the latest version of MT-Blacklist, spam hasn't been a problem.

    Although I'm fairly sure that I qualify for the free version, I don't see any features worth upgrading to right now.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:33 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    May 12, 2004

    Joe Steps In It

    An interesting discussion on black identity over at Open Source Politics.

    Posted by mbowen at 07:15 PM | TrackBack

    May 07, 2004

    Quote of the Week

    From the Belmont Club:

    While it is important to punish everyone responsible for the outrages at Abu Ghraib, the only effective way to stop the corrupting influences of war is to achieve victory. Japanese tourists are welcome in Asia everywhere today because the Second World War ended in 1945. And if by contrast Palestinians hand out sweets whenever a Jewish orphanage and Old Folk's home is bombed it may be because the UN refugee camps there celebrated their 50th anniversary in 1998. If the outrages at Abu Ghraib hasten the end of war it will not have been in vain, but if they lead, as the Left most earnestly desires, to a Vietnam-like stalemate, it will be not the last but the first of many sad mileposts.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:26 AM | TrackBack

    April 30, 2004


    This is only the second or third time I've done a 'cruise' of blogs to find out interesting things others have written and then blogged them here. I've been working diligently on what amounts to financial forensics for one of the three companies that has recently hired me, and I haven't had much time to think creatively.

    So I will join the long list of bloggers who do that, thing for which I've been thankfully included. One other note before I do this. I'm tempted to give credit to the blogs which point me to other blogs where the target information can be found, but that's being too courtly. The point is the original content, not that I'm so brilliant an editor....

    So here's what I've found on my cruise.

    • A haunting journey through the back country near Chernobyl. "Every step toward the little cars adds 100 microroentgen to my geiger counter reading."
    • The cure to post-modernism. Boobs done properly. And plus she's so nice I decided to mention her twice. Do you know what a 'tinkle winkle' is? Why it's a cheesburger. No wait, maybe it's a padinga. Find out.
    • Sports vs Activities. Settled once and for all. Fishing is a sport after all, but it's nothing compared to Boxing.
    • Bionicle saves Lego from certain doom. But can anyone prounce the names of their characters?
    • Oh yeah and a little nothing about AQ's chemical attack.
    • Does anybody care about the Kentucky Derby any longer? I do hope, in my retirement to be with the horsey set, but I must confess I can't remember the last time I thought about horses. Well, except for last week's episode of Touching Evil.
    • Do government officials shoot themselves in the foot? Literally.

    Posted by mbowen at 06:03 PM | TrackBack

    April 05, 2004

    On Kos

    For what it's worth, I think Matt Stoller has got the right idea and perspective on what's going on regarding the dust-up over Kos' 'monumental' blunder.

    In a nation that seems incapable of allowing men with beards to run and win for public offices, the kind of gotcha games that scandalists line their policical credibility ar bound to find a gold mine in the web.

    Posted by mbowen at 01:14 PM | TrackBack

    March 14, 2004

    Been Down

    Obviously Cobb has been out of commission for four days. It's a long and complicated story about lost passwords, Dreamhost's down control panel, Yahoo's inability to answer the phone and a domain registry organization in Melbourne. All's well that ends well, I suppose.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:36 AM | TrackBack

    February 21, 2004

    Two Degrees

    Somebody two degrees away from VisionCircle passed this meme to me, so I'll play. Following PRS, I've landed at Cheesdip.

    February 18, 2004
    Speaking of hate, I like this 2001 interview with Kelis where she speaks about speaking about hate:

    drDrew.com: What's interesting to me is that you sing "I hate you so much right now."
    K: That's important, that's really important. No one ever notices that, but that's so fucking key; it's not forever. I say it all the time. It's that momentary feeling and it's a feeling of outrage. People say that hate is a really strong word and it is. "Right now" makes it so real. You can be in love with someone and at that moment you can hate them because of something that they've done or something they've said or however they've made you feel. Sometimes we don't say it because it's like, "Oh, I really love this person.' Fuck that: You've pissed me off really bad and I hate you right now. I can't say it any better.

    If you've missed the reference, check out the lyrics to "Caught Out There" off her 1999 debut Kaleidoscope. Frankly that song terrifies me, although it's great to listen to when you're pissed off. Having said that, I'm not really a fan of hers although I think her current single "Milkshake" is an excellent piece of work. If you haven't seen the video for it yet, now's your chance.


    Jolography collects the poems which won Paolo Manalo First Prize for Poetry in English at the 2002 Palanca Awards, as well as a special B-Side: an assortment of pieces in various genres, which includes the widely-circulated essay "Being the True, the Good, the Beautiful and Definitive Meaning of 'Jologs' (or When is the Squattah Not the Othah)."

    Published by the University of the Philippines Press, Jolography comes in two editions: PLAIN SUCKY PAPER (the one available from National Bookstore and Power Books) and BETTER PAPER (available at the book launching). Cover designed by Melvin de los Santos.

    Jolography will be launched on February 10, 2004, 5 p.m. at Cravings Katipunan Avenue together with the short story collections of Rosario Cruz Lucero (Feast and Famine: Stories of Negros) and Romina M. Gonzalez (Welostit and Other Stories).

    Posted by mbowen at 10:52 AM | TrackBack

    February 19, 2004

    A Milestone of Sorts

    Although I exploit it only about once a month, I sometimes feel guilty about crossposting about VisionCircle. But I am pleased to announce that it's beginning to get some traction. On article has gotten 20 comments and we have a bit of a regular audience.

    I purposefully don't have a hit counter at VC because I think it's more important to be correct than popular. So I resist the temptation to pander. The pandering I do here.

    But seriously, I'm happy that folks are checking out VisionCircle. Spence is doing seriously good stuff.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:47 PM | TrackBack

    February 03, 2004

    The Blog That Ate The World

    I just had a nightmarish vision. It was that everyone had a blog and they were talking about their own lives on and on forever. Anything that happened anywhere would be blogged, newspaper reported, guerilla videoed and otherwise mic'd for posterity.

    Then some loudmouth goober says:

    Every last one of you. You're all latte-sipping, iMac-using, suburban-living tertiary-industry-working WASPs who offer absolutely no new insights on anything whatsoever apart from maybe one specialist field if we're lucky. Most of you think that you're writing original content and that you're making a contribution by licensing your spewings under Creative Commons "Some Rights Reserved" licences, just because it's the hip thing to do. You think you know all there is to say about blogging because you understand the concept of HTML and CSS, but the horrible truth is that 40% of you are all using the same shitty default layout. Then you take pictures of yourselves looking pensive or making vague allusions to mythology.

    And I remember that blogs will never eat the world and that the circle jerk of bloggers are a minority within a fraction of a percent of the planet's population. We have less influence and media sway than Janet Jackson's right boob.


    Posted by mbowen at 12:12 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    January 06, 2004

    All About It

    I would presume that most Cobb readers know about George Kelly who is one of my blogfathers. He's a prodigious voracious reader. You can tell by the variety of material he presents in his info-rich blog. If you haven't been there in a while, go there.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:39 AM | TrackBack

    January 02, 2004


    "O wad some Power the giftie gie us
    To see oursels as ithers see us!
    It wad frae monie a blunder free us
    An foolish notion:
    What airs in dress an gait wad lea'es us,
    An ev'n devotion!"
    -- Robert Burns

    I don't know about you, but almost everytime I want to see it, Daypop isn't working. Technorati is quite reliable for telling me who links and speaks of goings down in the Cobbosphere, but going there and trying to find out what bloggers are talking about is a less than appetizing experience. Just yesterday I discovered Blogrunner for the first time. It's pretty damned good.

    It's interesting to see what Blogrunner picks as my most popular topics. Although I know better, it's not a bad guess and I don't mind such a characerization presenting a non-human perspective on Cobb. I'll be using this tool a bit more.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:16 PM | TrackBack

    December 30, 2003


    I haven't been reading as much as I would like. My schedule's a little cramped. But I did find a few things pretty interesting. This piece on Intellectual Bondage stokes my fires of contempt for Israel again. I have discovered that the oases of Egypt may be distressed. Mannish grumbles about non-white roles in Hollywood. And here I found a hilarious fish story about civil liberties.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:10 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    December 23, 2003

    Don Fox on a Rampage

    Ever have one of those days when you need to tell the world to sod off? Don's having one right now. Don't miss it.

    While we're handing them out, here's a middle finger to pseudo pacifists. You know who you are, you hobbit-loving Hobbsians.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:58 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


    Ezster sets herself up for a great joke which couldn't make prime-time comedy by referring to this map comparing the size of Israel to Lake Michigan.

    If you haven't heard the joke it goes a little something like this. One sunny day in Kabul around November of 2001, GWBush, Mullah Omar and Osama Bin Laden find a magic lamp. Being gracious, or not knowing what it is, Bush lets Omar and Osama go first.

    Omar says: I wish for a great impenetrable wall around Afghanistan. No infidels can ever interfere with our great Islamic Republic.

    BinLaden says: I wish for a great sky barrier so that no modern aircraft can enter or exit. We shall be free from terror from the sky (One track mind, this guy)

    Bush scratches his head for a moment and then makes his wish to the genie.
    Fill it up with water.

    Posted by mbowen at 04:35 PM | TrackBack

    November 06, 2003

    Don't Sue Me Because of My Commenters

    I'm assuming the following from Balkin:

    What the 9th Circuit held (and what the 4th Circuit also held before them) is that section 230 of the 1996 Telecom Act protects people who run websites from being sued for republishing the libels of another person. Section 230 states that " no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."

    This does not mean that bloggers are immune from libels they themselves write. It means
    that they are immune from (for example) libels published in their comments section (if they have one) because these comments are written by other people and the blogger is merely providing a space for them to be published. Congress wanted to treat operators of chatrooms and other interactive computer services differently from letters to the editor columns in a local newspaper.

    So if bloggers defame somebody, they can still be sued for what they say, just not for what
    someone else who publishes on the blogger's site says.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:13 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    October 28, 2003

    Tanking Down Big Media One Peg At A Time

    Kieran Healy takes a swing at Gregg Easterbrook over at Crooked Timber.

    As some folks have noted the blogosphere is a catalyst in changing the balance of power in the wider 'memepool'. As the most broad, deep and visible avatar of the chatting class, the blogosphere with its interesting divisions of labor, has the capacity to take down stars of traditional media, politics and just about every other intellectual activity. Note that this is a function of the entire sphere and not necessarily the work of one or two individuals. I claim that the emergent behavior of the network of political and cultural bloggers are making their impact felt as a whole.

    The most notable tool of the blogosphere is the 'fisk', named after outspoken journalist Robert Fisk who was often the target of 'anti-idiotarian' rants and other verbal puncturing. A fisking represents the evolution of the flamewar. It is smarter, it is more detailed and it is more effective.

    Since the blogosphere is open and news travels fast through it, people are likely to criticize certain controversial or popular positions from many angles. The blogosphere supports the highly focused interest of partisans of all stripes and once a higher order blogger in its ecosystem latches onto a topic, it quickly brings out almost all angles of opinion.

    The fisk represents the level of interactivity and detail orientation I have been hoping to find within computer mediated communications for some time. That the blogosphere demonstrates this proves several things. The first and most important is that collaboration is a necessary part of the effect and impact of blog writing.

    Provocation is a necessary component of this activity. Someone of a particularly partisan bent can speak out on a particular issue in such a way that it provokes a reaction. Thus a critical mass of bloggers and their commenters.

    One of the features of this emergent behavior involves a kind of indemnification accorded to certain bloggers once they reach a certain status. It can either be an indemnification of link mass or of credibility. Often they are both. Once an issue to be debated reaches one of the indemnified bloggers

    Sometimes the issue needs only a brief glossing over or a reference to other bloggers at an indmnified site. This doesn't detract from the value of the indemnified blogger because even these small inputs sustain interest and add fractal detail to the overall debate.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:14 PM | TrackBack

    October 16, 2003

    Self Promotion

    If this particular blog post works. I will self-nominate Cobb into the Bear Flag League of California bloggers. Stranger things have happened.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:02 AM | TrackBack

    October 12, 2003

    Blog as Amenuensis & Factotum

    Every once in a while, like today, I get upset that I can't place my finger on a name or fact or reference. Right now I owe a big up to Joe Bob over in Yglesias' comment section for reminding me of the name of Steven Levitt.


    You are thinking of Steven Levitt, currently with the University of Chicago. There was a profile of him in the NYT magazine a few weeks ago.

    The analysis he wrote on this subject is titled 'An Economic Analysis of a Drug-Selling Gang's Finances.' You can view an abstract of it here:


    Among his findings was that over the four-year period studied the typical street level dealer earned $6-$11/hour.

    So if you see some notes in here that seem to make no contextual sense, know that I am making mental notes for reference at a future date. It'll probably go into Brain Spew.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:42 PM | TrackBack

    October 09, 2003

    The Daily Plame

    I'm getting tired of all of my favorite blogs getting glutted up with Plame commentary. So would somebody do us all a favor and start Plameblogging.com?

    This seems to be an issue that just won't die within the next several months, so get with it won't you? As it stands, I have to hop all over the blogosphere in and out of comments. It's just too tedious. Use the technology people!

    Posted by mbowen at 05:13 PM | TrackBack

    October 07, 2003

    Why Volokh is Cool

    Nothing like a nice statistical syllogism to make one's day.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:10 AM | TrackBack

    September 13, 2003

    The Mystery of the Black Blogger

    What does it mean to be a black blogger?

    I'll start with the number of black blogs I have on my blogroll. There is a discernable disproportion of black bloggers on my blogroll to the percentage of blacks in America and presumeably the blogosphere. That's 15.2% for me.

    As far as I know, I am the only Republican black blogger and everybody who carries at least one link to a visibly black blogger goes after Oliver Willis (who needs no introduction or links from me). So the simple answer to the simple question is, you get more recognition from other black bloggers than from non-black bloggers, unless you are Oliver Willis. Since Willis is clearly a big liberal wonk there's a similar deal with liberal blogger recognition vs non-liberal recognition. What's it like to live in the shadow of Oliver Willis? I don't know because I don't read his blog.

    There is a deeper question implied by the black blogger question. But that devolves back to the simple question: What does it mean to be black and stand up and say what you believe? I'll get to that after I dispatch with a few other things.

    The Blogosphere Itself
    There is certainly the matter of its own echo chamber effect but that is the nature of the beast. There are two things to note in that regard.

    • Power Law Distributions distort the importance of popular blogs. Since I know this, I have solicited a link from Glenn Reynolds. I still haven't done much link whoring at all, but on the other hand I have not really made that an issue or an effort.
    • Blog amplification introduces distortion. The purity of ideas get lost as they propagate. They may become more interesting, but they destroy consensus.

    Real Black Issues
    Am I satisfied that black opinion is sought and found in the blogosphere? Not really. That is a function of how much needs to be said that is considered 'black' and that differs widely depending on whether or not you are. You see everything I write comes from a black perspective, because it's my perspective is black and I'm 100% (like Dozer in The Matrix) born and bred straight from source. So when you come to Cobb and read my stuff, you are getting a black perspective whether or not you acknowledge it. The question is loaded because it depends entirely on the behavior of non-black folks.

    I know that behind 'what does it mean to be a black blogger' are three important questions which are implied.

    1. Do whitefolks depend on their own preconcieved notions of what a black issue is or is not?
    2. Do whitefolks seek out authentic blackfolks views when informing their own opinions?
    3. Do blackfolks use the blogosphere the same way whitefolks do?
    (this argument is in black & white like a hitchcockian clarity, don't get bent out of shape)

    To the first two which may or may not be related. That is to say, the second question may be taken independently of the context of the first. In either case I believe that folks have to have some extraordinary motivation to figure in their choice of connections. The blogosphere will eventually expand and dumb down just like the rest of the internet and we will be talking about average people soon. Average folks will do in the blogosphere just what they do in real life, so the predictable answers will be yes and no. But for the moment, while the blogosphere consists of extraordinary folks, the egotistical nature of blog exposition seems to be the primary dynamic of most blogs who are not doing a joint authorship thing.

    So from that perspective, if you're Oliver Willis, you can be a meme bandit and suck all the wind out of black diversity just the same way Glenn Reynolds and Atrios do in their perspective ideological solar systems within the blogosphere. The alternative is to create a joint authored portal like Volokh or Crooked Timber or OxBlog. I have Vision Circle and there is the ever excellent Negrophile. For the moment I'm not complaining. I do think, however there is a significant question on whether the blogosphere needs a joint blog of color. It begs a lot of other questions too.

    In the meanwhile, If I want to write about something and I think it's important, I'm going to blog it and link around it until the meat of the subject matter is covered to the extent I think it deserves. So I don't think you'll often hear me complain that a black issue (from the supply side) is not being covered by the blogosphere. You're more likely to hear me piss and moan about my exasperation at the intransigence of idiot bloggers who don't heed wisdom from the source. That gets back to questions one and two, so what's so special about bloggers anyway?

    On question three, I think that there is something of a disconnect on choice of media. I got into this question earlier this year with Art McGee and others notable in the black internet world. The consensus seems to be that a self-fulfilling prophesy may be working. The blogosphere status quo is arguably white and male. In the way that smoke filled rooms still smell of smoke long after the backroom dealings are done, the 'masters tools' have evolved to favor a kind of atmosphere which may not be appropriate for the types of communications people of color and women want or need.

    I am 100% convinced of the value of the blogosphere in the sense that it is an operation of individualism that allows for greater expression than was possible in web based fora like Salon, Cafe Utne, Abuzz ect. We have extended the credo of The Well "You own your own words" to a much larger universe of people than The Well could ever accomodate. So in the blogosphere I see more possibilities for black expression than ever before. In light of Power Law, we need a different kind of critical mass however, and I don't think that is quite established. Negrophile is the place to watch.

    Blackness Itself, Again
    So to the big question about what does it mean to be black and stand up and say what you believe. That depends on whether or not the subject is racial. If the subject is racial then see Diminishment below. If it's not, then Americans will try to pretend that it doesn't matter that you're black. They co-opt the subject. This is not always a bad thing, but it can be very annoying.

    Diminished Standing & Racial Subjects
    Fortunately, or unfortunately as the case may be, I rehashed this last week. So you basically have Bells Rules & Blogcritics. I covered that here and here. The long story is Cyberspace My Black Ass but that's the stuff I did as boohab and I'm not going to retrace my steps here.

    Posted by mbowen at 02:59 PM | Comments (47) | TrackBack

    September 12, 2003

    See You in the Funny Papers

    I'm pleased to announced that Cobb the Comic aka Cobb's Neighborhood was selected to be included in this weekend's upcoming BTD Comic Special. A special shout out goes to my peeps at BS for encouraging me, to Kaddar my ghost and to Sean-Paul Kelley, my blogfather.

    in honor of this momentous occasion just after my one year anniversary, I have created a blogroll icon for my readers to show off their class, sophistication and gobs of intellectual leisure.

    Posted by mbowen at 03:39 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    On Knowing When to Shutup

    I'm going to post this graf from the Poor Man, and then a bunch of comics and then chill out for the day.

    Fouad Ajami has this bit arguing that anti-Americanism (*stifled yawn*) predates the Bush doctrine of behaving stupidly on the international stage and making us look stupid. It's nothing terribly new, and I suppose I either agree with or have no frame of reference for its specific claims, but it's worth mentioning because A) it advocates the correct attitude of "who cares" towards international opinions about America, particularly those 90% whose opinions are completely decoupled from reality; and B) it poo-poo's the notion that the war in Iraq is a bad idea because a ot of foreigners think so, although it neglects to point out that the war in Iraq is a bad idea because it just is. It's amazing to me that otherwise smart people will point towards polls of global "man on the street" attitudes as evidence of something, as A) anyone who has ever taken a public bus or listened to a call-in radio show* should know that your fellow human beings, or at least those who are willing to share their opinions with strangers, are totally barking, and B) anyone who has ever looked at the Billboard top 50 chart must know that anything large numbers of people agree on is complete bullshit. However, having correctly said "who cares", effectively pointing out that this well-worn topic is not worth discussing yet again, this article goes ahead and exists anyway. I suggest that we move past the point of saying we don't care, and get on to the serious business of not caring, and focus perhaps on how much we've fucked up everything. Also, I'm afraid that it's a short trip from anguishing over this sort of thing to this sort of thing, which is so irresponsible it boggles even this already well-boggled mind.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:16 AM | TrackBack

    September 08, 2003

    Irony or Madness?

    You decide.

    From The Black Republican:

    Fast forward a century plus change, and the image of the Republican Party has been molded by the Democrats into a caricature of a redneck Klansman's convention. That image ought not be so prevalent, not the least reason being it isn't true, but also because many of the greatest conservative thinkers of our day are blacks, including Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas, Alan Keyes, Armstrong Williams, and Ward Connerly.

    As a citizen representing the most despised demographic of today (white men), I thought there wasn't much I could do about it. Then one man changed all that. I've been reading blogs for a while, but I never had much of a desire to write one until Good 'Ol Boy Trent put every Republican's right leg in his mouth. I couldn't sit still any longer, and wanted to speak my mind. I thought to myself, "That old 'Black Republican' Lincoln would have a cow if he saw what we've become."

    Remember 'Men on Film' from In Living Color? This guy doesn't get two snaps up, but one for balls. My advice to Mr. O'Conor? Read Cloudsplitter and recognize what a real steel skeleton abolitionist is all about. Lincoln was a wimp.

    Posted by mbowen at 04:28 PM | TrackBack

    September 04, 2003

    Mac Diva Dissed

    Every once in a while, it's interesting to see the kind of bullshit intelligent black women have to put up with. If you have an occasion to enjoy racial archeology, there's a fresh dig over at Blogcritics.

    Check it out before they start deleting stuff and issuing ass-backwards apologies.

    UPDATE: Also read this thread on the meta fallout. Especially comment #104.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:16 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

    August 08, 2003

    AOL's Blogging, Ya Herd?

    Yglesias [reports that Steve Dunn ]suggests that AOL's entry into the Blogosphere will death blows to the superior gravity of Instapundit and AndrewSullivan. I beg to differ, simply.

    One. I never read either of them and I don't miss a trick. It has been a very rare occasion when the second-order blogs [like Matt] on my list have deferred totally to their style of writing. Instapundit and Sullivan are provocateurs only of reader's habit.

    Two. The last thing AOL 'revolutionized' was the browser world. Before that, it was USENET. You can judge the results for yourself.

    The AOL herd is of bovine proportions and intellectual substance. In general, they live on the feed lot. Every once in a while, AOL will add a new technology that gives them a bit more freedom to roam the open plains of the Internet. They stampede a pre-trailblazed path into minivan navigability. That's a good thing because AOL supplies enough heads to justify non-niche marketing and that validates keeping the Internet alive for unprincipled capitalists and others late to the cluetrain. But ain't no siren calls coming out of that herd.

    We will see a whole lot of stuff that will look like the first generation of Blogger, but with shiny buttons. YKYMF

    Ed. Thanks to ZM

    Posted by mbowen at 12:02 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

    August 05, 2003

    Boswell Is That You?

    Once upon a time, the one single place journalists and other decent writers on the internet hung out was the Well. There has been nothing like it before or since. One of the most brilliant and hilarious of luminaries was a a devasting wit named Gerard, who went by the psuedonym of 'Boswell'. I think I've stumbled upon his blog.

    He doesn't seem to be quite the same person I recall. He seems to have gotten a case of the patriotic bombasto-pox. Fortunately, he can still be hilariously caustic. I'll not miss his new blog often.

    So where's Vard?

    Posted by mbowen at 05:01 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    August 04, 2003

    Not Stolen From Anil Dash

    Intellectual Property 101, provided by Ten Reasons Why.

    Give someone your blender. Let them take it home with them. Now sit in your house, and try to make a smoothie in your blender.

    Now, give someone your idea. Let them take it home with them. Now sit in your house, and try to make use of your idea.

    You can't do the former because physical property is "rivalrous." It is a limited resource and can't be owned or consumed concurrently. If I steal the Mona Lisa, you can't go to the museum and see it. If you take my blender, I can no longer use it. Intellectual property is a "non-rivalrous" resource. My consumption of it doesn't impact yours. If I take a photo of the Mona Lisa, the original is still hanging on the wall of the museum. You can take my idea, but I haven't lost it by you taking it.

    Thank you very much for that idea.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:32 AM | TrackBack

    August 02, 2003

    Lying In Ponds

    I have been pleasantly surprised, while looking up an old Bob Herbert article, to have found Lying in Ponds. You'll find it a handy resource.

    Lying in Ponds is an attempt to encourage vigorous, independent commentary in the American punditocracy by quantifying and analyzing partisanship. Lying in Ponds tries to draw a fundamental distinction between ordinary party preference and excessive partisanship. The presence of an excessive partisan bias transforms journalism into advertising, too distorted and unreliable to be useful in any serious political debate.

    Lying in Ponds currently tracks the Democratic and Republican biases of a selection of regular political columnists from various sources, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal, and the Washington Post.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:47 AM | TrackBack

    July 31, 2003

    Winamp Hoverable Playlist

    Note to self:

    that's cool.

    Posted by mbowen at 04:17 PM | TrackBack

    July 17, 2003


    We have a winner!

    I have found, finally, a nuanced approach to news on the continent. As I was beginning to splutter about Cornel West, he really angered me this evening with his bluster about the African Union being disrespected by GWBush, who according to West, upstaged their entire conference just by being on the continent. Instead of giving us a clue as to what the African Union is trying to accomplish these days other than 'self-determination', Cornel simply launched into trying to embarrass Bush. What a self-serving load of tripe. From this point forward, I expect nothing more from Brother West other than interestingly wooly banter, although not with Tavis Smiley.

    Our young man from Tennessee, on the other hand has a few interesting things to say on Liberia.

    Welcome to the blogroll, Noah.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:05 AM | TrackBack

    July 14, 2003

    Raving Atheist

    Now here's something interesting, a raving atheist. We shall most definitely look closer. I wonder, politically, when and where you can count on ranting rationalists.

    I haven't raved on faith vs reason since finishing The Fountainhead in my sophomore year. OK I admit I was long out of college, but I wasn't a liberal arts major, alright? We techies get it late if ever.

    Most atheists I've listened to over an extended period of time strike me as people who escaped an abusive childhood. But it's not logical for them to blame it on God, who after all has no interest in human affairs. Hell, even Morgan Freeman says don't mess with free will, and he's the best God ever caught on film. It is logical for them to blame a good deal of pain and suffering on their fanatic evangelical doppelgangers on the other side of the aisle, as it were.

    I have several difficult questions to pose to atheists of all stripes which have nothing whatsoever to do with God.

    The first involves the moral imperative implied by the existence of the human soul. Atheists must acknowledge the soul, the spirit. the ineffable essence of human life which makes it precious beyond the concerns of all human institutions. We may very well be on the verge of creating the 'compassionate corporation' whose lifespan may exceed that of organized religion, but the soul, its very invention owes to religion.

    Governments, Armies, Commercial Enterprises and Organized Religions represent the most powerful organizing forces we've invented. Each has a part to play in human destiny. Drop one and what have you got? Are atheists anarchic of necessity?

    Posted by mbowen at 12:42 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

    June 23, 2003

    Integrating the Slamdance

    Within a week or two, I will go deep into the shed over the matter of Affirmative Action now being redirected in light of the Supreme Court's decision. To that end I will be integrating my previously separate blog "Boohabian Slamdance" into this one. Since I grew weary of sparring with John over at Discriminations at the beginning of March, I let the blog go silent.

    Certain of its content will probably merit the category, 'Raucous and Racial' which was the subtitle of that blog. The Boohab was an agent provocateur of a bygone era of the internet. It just so happens that I am reviewing that era of black pioneering in cyberspace in a different context, excerpts of which will land here too. Most of that won't be so raucous. So in one respect I'm glad that I don't have to be, but nothing is quite so compelling as a racial angle. The nice thing is that you'll be able to better use the search form and I'll be able to retrospectively trackback new stuff that arrives into the 'sphere.

    Posted by mbowen at 06:01 PM | TrackBack

    June 16, 2003

    Gotta Love that Euro-Spunk

    Samizdata flips the EU the bird. Good on them. Every once in a while, Libertarians show that they are good for something. In fact, I can't say that I've had much beef with anything the Sammies have said (that I've read), especially since they are one of the biggest blog which has followed my lead on the Gadsden Flag. I ought to trim down my blogroll to those that I actually and truly read or otherwise indicate my respect. This will do for now.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:27 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    Tulia. Say it.

    Let's see how many bloggers pick up this story and say 'racist'.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:09 PM | TrackBack

    June 11, 2003

    On Vacation

    Once again I am on vacation. That is why you are seeing so many posts in the blog. My brain, free of the harnesses of data warehousing, roams free. Just thought you should know. It's going to be a good week.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:48 AM | TrackBack

    May 22, 2003

    Fifty Cents

    Since this is the echo chamber, I am somewhat obliged to opine on the recent nigger call in Seattle. While I'm at it, I'll also note in passing the passing of a Mad Cow's herd in Canada.

    While it is appropriate to exterminate the cow and the horse she rode in on, such extraordinary measures needn't apply to Brian Emanuels. But what nobody is asking, is whether or not Emanuels himself is actually gay or just part of the Gay Defense League. It seems beside the point, but I think it's rather central. Either BE was totally humiliated as a gay man by the student and lashed out, or he figured that the best way to handle niggers is let them know where they stand. See? World of difference.

    But hey, niggers need education more than they need respect, and computer training is the only way they're going to get it. So make sure the white boy keeps his job, after all, we can all rest assured it wasn't an Affirmative Action job and that he was the most qualified candidate.

    Hmm. Maybe this brain disease has passed to some humans already. How exactly do you kill a herd of cattle?

    Posted by mbowen at 07:16 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    April 30, 2003


    The war is over, bloggers sit with their mouths open. There's nothing in the world to write about and the blogosphere is flush with apologies, notices of hiatus and big chunks of calendars without little blue lines. The high-minded turn ham-fisted, what should we talk about next?

    I have long been overstretched with 7 blogs 3 forums and a comic. For me things are particularly acute at the moment because I'm dealing with three or four personal traumas. These will inevitably translate into writing material but now they are just making my head swim and my stomach sway.

    Turn away, I say. Turn away from the mainstream and its blogospheric rivulets and go introspective. That's what I'm doing here at Cobb for the moment, inspired and/or slapped about by the intimate tribulations of an heiress playing hooky. I am in an extended meditation about the nature of intimacy and friendship, the perception of self and the ability to communicate that with all this computer mediated communication we have. There's a lot to be said in this vein and I'm obligated to say some of it, but it would be nice if others did the same. Why? Because I want you to listen to me and acknowledge that I have a good idea, that whole blogosphere peer schmere.

    But beyond that is the whole notion of alienation in our society. Are we a kind of people that mediate so much of our lives through institutions and commercial cultural exchange that we have lost the ability to relate to humanity? There is a great deal of criticism that our sophistication deserves some of which we are getting from Islam, albeit mixed with fear and ignorance. I'll only mention Kerbala in passing because I am fascinated by such things as those which bring hundreds of thousands of bodies together. I hate crowds absolutely, so this can be rich.

    At any rate, I expect that many bloggers will be flogging themselves as they climb down from the war rush. We have excess pundit capacity these days and its about time we turned it to the national culture. Let's see how we do.

    Posted by mbowen at 07:33 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    April 27, 2003


    The other way to get over the Sunday Night Blues is to rise to anger. Right now I'm pretty pissed but I'm not sure which direction to piss. Part of the problem is that I have hung around too many people who don't have sufficient amounts of money and/or personality for me to justify the time spent. I don't know whether I should be angry at them or at myself.

    Every moment that I consider the sheer obscurity of my blog, considering the peculiar biases of the GoogleBrowser, I get these feelings. It doesn't help that in my present state of mind I am apt to call Sean-Paul Kelley a total sellout. But such is the state of blogging for people with sufficiently large egos. I'm trying to work my Buddha, but it just ain't working.

    Swerdloff is the cause of this anger too. But I wouldn't feel so bad if I lived in NYC. It's easy to have friends in NYC.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:25 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    April 13, 2003

    Meta Agonist Blowback

    A number of people are knicker-twisted over a plagiarism scandal over at the Agonist. I haven't heard so much whimpering since the days of Brill's Content. Remember when? Let me be the one to suggest that while there is something morally fungible about stealing words, one has to understand exactly how cheap words are. They are practically worthless and losing value by the moment.

    In the days of yore, somewhere around December a good Agonist post was something like this or this. On subjects like North Korea, he was brilliant. In the billions of words that slog through the blogosphere, these clusters were demonstrably useful. They were original analysis. The Sean-Paul Kelley indeed was an agonist as he defined it:

    The germ of the idea behind The Agonist came to me last October while I was walking atop the Acropolis in Athens. As I looked down into the well of an ancient amphitheatre I recalled that in Ancient Greek tragedy there was always an 'agonist', usually the lead and someone beset by intellectual or spiritual conflicts, and an 'antagonist', the principal opponent or foil of the main character. I remembered Antigone and her struggle between honoring her brother, whether he was shamed or not, and obeying her king. It was an honest, if tragic struggle she waged. The odd, stream-of-consciousness associations of the mind led me to the idea of a weblog dedicated to an honest intellectual struggle to understand the world, its nature and its past.

    The new Sean-Paul Kelley on his best day is a human Google. He is a now less an analyst and agonist than a news aggregator. Granted, he a news aggregator with excellent instincts and taste but something about the popularity of his site has mitigated his value as a writer. In fact, he has transformed the flavor and impact of his website entirely since he became a star. I for one was disappointed at the change in direction and I said as much. Understanding that the war and popularity changed what the Agonist website has become, I am less inclined to browbeat Kelley for plagiarism, not that it's such an awful charge to level at anyone blogging as an aggregator.

    This adds to the list of reasons we should all hope this conflict ends soon. We can get back to the business of second guessing and analyzing and reinterpreting and otherwise restating the obvious with our own (mostly) unique, original, individually generated blather. That it won't be about war will devalue the words even further, and we can continue our petty thievery once more below the scrutiny of the self-righteous guardians of intellectual property.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:58 PM | TrackBack

    November 13, 2002

    The Problem with Blogging

    is that it's so shamelessly self-indulgent. i wasn't going to do it, except that some people to whom i've been writing for a couple years said that it would be a shame if i didn't go public. so i have been shamed into shamelessness with the expectation of fame. i have the redliculous burden of doing something to make myself and my writing famous. i need a hook. argh. i don't even like writing about that.

    on the other hand, working a type of writing into blogstyle, which i find an interesting challenge, gives this burden some levity. what i'm going to do is serially weave, which means i'll be doing what spike lee doesn't - completing controversies from previous episodes. it forces readers to be serially attentive, but then again, i suppose that's what blog readers are like.

    the osama bin laden tape is real, again. osama has no shame, but he's not exactly blogging. it's more like he's delivering a state of the anarchy address. this is the one case in which the out-party reply would be more gripping. even dick gephart could do that.

    now dig this on intifada deaths. don't you just love charts? according to the numbers here, we are at approximately 2,400 deaths. not quite a full lynch factor.

    if you listen to the news every day like i do, listening to these crips and bloods duke it out becomes extremely annoying. but if the intifada has been going on since '68 why is there no resolution? probably because, like lynching, we just get sick of hearing about it. f' 'em. let them all kill each other off. of course that would probably take 150 years at this rate. that's a lot of serial reading has got that kind of attention span.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:32 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack