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December 30, 2004

Carnival of the Vanities #119

The 119th Carnival of the Vanities is here! This week we have another great selection of prime posts from around the blog world. I'm a bit slow posting it but I will blame the lousy weather in Southern California and the late surge in submissions, and beg your understanding. I count 33 35 submissions for this week's Carnival and they are a typically diverse group. A few took up the idea of a New Years theme and I have given them top billing. There is the usual crowd of conservative blogs, but a few liberals are here as well. There are newcomers and some of the old pro's. Take advantage of the long holiday weekend and spend some time with these authors.

I noticed as I read through the submissions that bloggers, who have a reputation for being contrary and argumentative, are getting soft it seems. There is a definite trend towards the "easy sell" in this week's Carnival, of taking positions that everyone agrees with. Perhaps its the holiday spirit at work, we all want to be so nice this time of year. Pete resolves to gain weight, LaShawn wishes for fewer idiot commenters, Dee wants us to have more sex, Joe wants us to give ourselves more presents...these are not daring, radical positions! I guess, like Martin of the Ego blog, we all like to be liked.

Let's get the Carnival started:

The World According to Pete has embraced New Year's theme and the idea of "going with the flow" by announcing some New Year's resolutions he's bound to keep. I think he's onto something. Why start the year disappointed with yourself? Make these sorts of resolutions and impress yourself with your resolve! I should resolve to spend too much time blogging and to make a lot of typo's. There! I feel more confident already!

LaShawn Barber has some New Year's wishes of her own over at LaShawn Barber's Corner. She hopes to see some improvements in the blogging world like intelligent comments from liberal readers, which seems like asking for a miracle, but as LaShawn is also a Christian blogger, she's entitled. She also hopes that "Moderate bloggers will open the closet door and let the liberal or conservative come out", which made me smile. Sometimes being a centrist means that you are offensive to all of your neighbors (and blog readers) so jumping on either the conservative or liberal wagon can seem very enticing. Still, being a centrist does have it rewards, including being able to read and enjoy good blogs from both ends of the spectrum. LaShawn's is one of my favorites. I hope she gets her New Year's wishes.

Jill at The Business of Life starts her New Years reflection by observing that "more gadgets don't necessarily increase our well-being", something you'll agree with when you're struggling to get that new Christmas laptop or PDA working. As a resident of Silicon Valley I ought to argue with Jill about this, but I can't. She follows with excellent thoughts on finding happiness and meaning in life.

I'm putting this post near the top because its from a centrist blogger and, well, I'm biased that way. Annie (aka "Amba", great nickname!) at Ambivablog is no longer ambivalent on the Iraq war (LaShawn is smiling) and has noticed that the media seems a bit negative. She reports that "I'm learning something new (to me, that is): that denial can be a necessary part of resolve." I'm not sure that the conservative bloggers would put it that way but it's an astute observation nonetheless.

James Joyner at Outside the Beltway has a "rough time taking Katie Couric seriously as a journalist." I'm sure he's not the only one. Selecting Couric to replace Dan Rather would, "signal the end of the nightly network news as a serious player in the news game." I wonder if it isn't time to drop the myth of network news anchors as "master journalists." Perhaps the best indication that the reign of the network news shows is over is when the selection of a new anchor is no longer news.

James isn't the only one Couric-blogging this week. Jeff at Beautiful Atrocities has done some very extensive research to trace the evolutionary pathways that lead to Katie. Whether this is evidence of "Intelligent Design" he does not address. You'll have to reach your own opinion on that.

Outside the Beltway also takes the Washington Post to task for inadequate statistical support for its claim that pregnant women are increasingly targeted in murders. Terrific stories like these have long been known to sell more papers, however, so I would not expect the post to hold back waiting for better statistical support.

Speaking of disturbing stories, Dr. Tom Boyle at CodeBlueBlog has a story of Botox Gone Bad, with a litigation angle as well. Its a sad tale that is even more sadly is not a surprise.

DeeMarie at Taken in Hand was kind enough to provide a "suggested description" for her submission: "On Taken In Hand DeeMarie has a delightfully scathing answer to the question Is chastity overrated?"

I did, however, read the post, so I can let you know that Dee suggests that chastity is not the best idea for young lovers. She says of herself, "I came of age in the 1970s", which says a lot. I'm sure Dee could get an argument from people who have different opinions on the wisdom of "sowing your oats", but I really doubt that young lovers need much encouragement to decide to try "erotic liberation and sexual exploration" rather than chastity.

Adam Crouch at The Raw Prawn, is a surprisingly rare animal, a "burger blogger." Adam is enthusiastic about the potential for success of Hardee's new Monster Thickburger. Adam feels that McDonald's and other major fast food restaurants are under serving an important market segment, old-fashioned guys who feel that "counting calories is "girly". "Real men" want a thick, juicy slab of meat." The Post is illustrated with a photograph of the new menu item that will set your mouth watering (that is, if you're one of those fellows Adam is talking about.) If you're interested in business strategy within the fast food industry, or just like to look at really big burgers, check it out. Now why can't I stop staring at that picture?

Young Dr. Charles had an unexpected visitor before Christmas. Anyone who carries a belly like a "bowl full of jelly" ought to be getting a checkup from the doctor (before running over to Hardee's for a Monster Thickburger.) The doctor reveals that yet another cultural hero is relying on hormones to enhance performance. Ah well...

The Spear Shaker has some ideas about the "Greatest Tragedy of the last Century". Although I'd love to argue his conclusion, I won't give away his surprise, you'll just have to go read it yourself. He makes good points about unintended consequences. If you look carefully at history you'll see that unintended consequences are not only likely, they're inevitable, and unpredictable (within realistic expectations.)

Vic Rubenfeld at The Big Picture notes that population continues to flow from the "Blue States" to the "Red States". He wonders if "the Liberal policies of the blue states are driving their own populations away."

Joe at Attaboy has an idea sure to be almost as popular as Dee's call for sexual experimentation. He calls it "Self Gifting", and has already claimed copyright. Nowadays he could probably receive a patent on it as well. At the very least he ought to be able to get a nice grant to fund a research study. Maybe earn himself an endowed chair in "Christmas Studies."

While Joe is developing new gifting strategies, Graham Lester at Point to Point has an offer to get you in on the new "hot mineral." It's a sure-fire way to build wealth (Graham's wealth, that is.) The Web being the kind of place it is, I don't doubt that someone somewhere is eager to take Graham up on his offer. This is certainly not the most outrageous offer I've received in my email in-box recently.

Superhawk at Right WingNutHouse remembers that Christmas is not only a Christian holiday, secular gift orgy and pagan solstice celebration, it's also the anniversary of an important moment in American History, George Washington's daring crossing of the Delaware River and successful attack on Trenton. All kidding aside, this is a great and under appreciated story from the Revolutionary War that Superhawk recounts well. It's good to remember that we weren't always the superpower in the world, and that Americans built their reputation as scrappy fighters with actions like these.

If you're wondering what Jews do during Christmas, besides saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas", Josh Cohen has spilled the beans, in verse no less! Apparently there is a secret little Christmas tradition that we Christians never knew about! I have heard from Hindu friends that they celebrate the same way.

Bob Gronlund at "We The Free" notes that not all is discord and conflict in the world today. He finds that there is growing world unanimity that the French need rehabilitation. There are some who would argue that "rehabilitation" is too restrained, and that something stronger is called for. Bashing the French has to be one of the oldest surviving sports, even Julius Ceasar pursued it!

Almost as fun (and easy) as bashing the French is bashing the New York Times. Ed Mick at Revealed Truth has collected some NYT gems from the past year. He hits upon what may be the most damaging way to attack the Times, "just ignore them." Perhaps they too can be "rehabilitated" like the French. Let's just link to the good reporters and columnists over there and let the bad stories fade away.

Something about this time of the year has people speaking in rhyme. Andrew Ian Dodge at Dodgeblogium (try getting that one through the spell checker!) has penned a little poem (now set to music!) expressing his year-end best wishes and advice. It concludes, "Let yourself go, have some fun. Life’s too short, when all’s said and done", which is just about right for New Year's Eve.

Small Business blogger Warren Meyer, at Coyote Blog, offers one of his favorite posts from the year now ending, a "60 Second Refutation of Socialism, While Sitting at the Beach." Personally, I can't think of a better place to refute socialism, although a cozy pub will do in a pinch. Warren rescues a young family member from academic socialism with an illustration that there is more than labor driving the world. Warren needs to take this lecture to Florida during Spring Break.

The Watcher, as in Watcher of Weasels has some thoughts on the Mosul attack.

John Ray of Dissecting Leftism maintains so many blogs that he needs his own Carnival to cover them. He's collected his best in this summary post, that covers everything from Leftists to Nazi's.

Bussorah at Wicked Thoughts lightens the mood with a page full of jokes. You'll need a few new ones for those New Year's parties, so check it out.

Ian Hamet at Banana Oil knows that there is more to Hong Kong film than marshal arts. He reviews a romantic comedy called "Turn Left, Turn Right, 2003". The problem with reviews like this is that the film is almost impossible to find in the US, so you're only being teased (unless, of course, you're not in the US.) Still, if more people read Ian's reviews and start asking, perhaps these films will get distributed here as well.

Eric Scheie at Classical Values tackles a challenging moral conundrum, is it morally acceptable to pretend to be a liberal or even a socialist in order to get better grades at college? Well, I never had any trouble with it. I figure that lying to fools to make them happy is a kindness, of sorts, and college kids have enough to handle without the social isolation that conservative views will get you. Just remember that many professors are more interested in political posturing than honest beliefs and tell them whatever you need to. But don't take my word for it, read Eric's typically excellent post. (Another example of unintended consequences!)

Michael, who claims to be Slowly Going Sane, has an idea for the "perfect marketplace". The link connects to only the first of five short pages in the post, so don't miss any!

Nick manages to combine political punditry with dialysis discussion over at Conservative Dialysis. One of the things he is wishing for in the coming year is a new kidney and pancreas, but the effects and consequences of the procedure are much on his mind. I can't say I blame him. People in Nick's situation find themselves in a difficult moral and emotional spot, wishing for someone to die so that they may live. Nick seems to be keeping a good attitude about it, and I for one will extend him prayers and best wishes for a new kidney in 2005, and prayers for the poor soul who's organs he receives.

Mike at Interested Participant finds that there is only a trickle of deserters going to Canada, rather than the flood implied in media reports, which only serves to make them easier to track.

Over at Darleen's Place, Darleen has a heartwarming but sad story about losing a beloved family pet after 19 years. Lot's of stories in the news these days that are sad without being the least bit heartwarming, so savor this one.

We've been needing some Leftist blogging to add balance to this carnival. Fortunately, Rob, The Unrepentant Liberal, has submitted his take on the situation in Iraq. Needless to say, it doesn't look rosy to Rob.

Madeleine Begun Kane serves up some liberal thinking in rhyme at her humor blog, Mad Kane. Poetry about Social Security reform you don't see every day, so don't let this pass you by. She calls it "Dupe-Meister Dub", which is not only a novel new nickname for the Pres, but has the added benefit of rhyming with "Shrub".

Martin Lindeskog, an "American in Spirit" from Gothenburg, Sweden, likes to get his ego stroked. He likes it so much that he named his blog "Ego" and has chosen to end the year by reiterating the thanks he offered his ego gratifying readers last Thanksgiving. Some would say that being an unrepentant egoist definitely makes Martin an "American in Spirit", but I disagree. We Americans are much more likely to be egoists in denial. He's not really a true egoist, however. Martin blows his cover by admitting that he has been disturbed by some negative comments on his blog. A truly egotistic blogger is gratified with any attention at all, no matter how negative. They mix well with the egotistic commenters.

UPDATE: I got so involved reading the submissions that I forgot to include my own year-end thoughts on the "Year of the Blog". I see some hopeful trends in the development of the "Blog World" and I hope we can keep this going.

I also post on non-political subjects, including Earth Sciences, at Bird's Eye View. I figured it was time to say something about the Asian tsunami. It's hard to be reminded that the earth has such dangers and horrors in it, but Earth Scientists know this and think about these events a lot. It's strange to witness what we discussed and modeled years ago.

Bill Adams at Idler Yet is reviewing the reviewers, He's found a movie/book/music review site that collects many reviews onto one site, and finds that there are some really good and readable reviewers out there.

That's a hopeful note on which to end the last Carnival of 2004. There really are people out there who have something interesting to say and the skill to say it well. I'll add one New Year's wish of my own. I hope you all keep writing and reading blogs, and reward the good ones with your readership, links and even meaningful and polite comments. I also hope you keep reading and submitting to the Carnival of the Vanities and the many other Carnivals it has inspired.

Next week's Carnival is at Vessel of Honor. Start writing and get those submissions in early!

Happy a happy and safe New Years!

Posted by Jay on December 30, 2004 at 12:01 AM | Permalink