Back in action
Figured out the internet hiccup. Get this – I’d let my davidweigel.com domain name expire. Since it had been experiencing glitches anyway, I hadn’t thought to check the registry when I lost service for more than 24 hours. I should have … there was a 3-day window wherein the domain name belonged to no man. But I’ve bought it up agin til 2008, so all’s well.

Unrelated thought: I unpacked some stuff from home today, including my new passport. I originally got a passport as a minor, in 1997, before my move to England. It bore the stamps from every country I visited in those years – Ireland, France, Holland, Germany, Austria, Italy. But at some point in my multiple moves to and from college housing and to and from summer apartments, I lost that passport. I felt briefly gloomy about this – little bureaucratic mementoes of three years of my life are lost somewhere, forever. But I’ve decided to treat this naked new passport as a totem of a new beginning.


Still Ill
My davidweigel.com address and corresponding e-mail are still down. I’m going to spend some time on the phone fixing this tomorrow, hopefully finding out a permanent solution in the process.

Sorry if you’ve tried to email me since Friday.


The end of blogs
I didn’t think Tom Tomorrow had it in him, but damn if he hasn’t posted the most profound inside blogball thought of this brief year so far.

Blogs are to the internet as Mr. Moviephone is to the telephone network. They’re a spinoff, sometimes useful, sometimes annoying, but not all that big a deal in the scheme of things either way. And in a few years, they’ll be utterly mundane, and it will seem ludicrous that anyone ever wrote articles about them, held conferences to discuss them. The impact of the blogs is probably at its peak right now. These days, if a blog shines a spotlight on some minor media mishap, and a couple hundred blog readers send outraged emails, that’s more feedback than most media types are used to getting, and it gets their attention (one of the great secrets of the media being how little feedback they usually receive). But once everyone adjusts to the new reality, those couple hundred emails will mean nothing more than the couple dozen letters that might have physically come in over the transom in the old days. Blogs will become mundane, and expectations will be accordingly adjusted–and a couple dozen bloggers whining, or a couple hundred emails from blog readers flooding an inbox, will simply not have the impact they have today.

You know what? This is exactly right. Blogs are an evolution of the internet-based communication that started with The Well in the 1980s. Whereas The Well was mostly self-contained and self-concerned, blogs by their bottom-up nature are nodes in an expanding community. Participants in The Well could raise money for a cause (like getting a community member out of hock) or spread a forgotten news item – so, on a massive scale can blogs. Blog fundamentalists (cough Hugh Hewitt cough) like to talk about blogs replacing “mainstream media,” but they need to media to survive – how else will they get stories to criticize, and how else would the blogs themselves get noteriety without it?

What about the idea of blogs becoming mundane? I think we’re already there. Case in point … this weekend, Instapundit did one of his posts linking to a crazy left-wing professor and tut-tutting about how the Democrats must deal with such people before right-thinking Americans ever think of rejoining their party. Lots of people link to it and argue. There’s two punchlines.

The first punchline – Glenn does this every week.

The second punchline – It’s about what said professor wrote on September 12, 2001. Three years and four months ago.

There’s increasingly little under the blogosphere sun – at least, certainly, the political blogosphere. It’s bitch, bitch, carp and wish doom upon thine foe. Apart from a deteriorating civility (remember when Instapundit LIKED Oliver Willis?) I don’t see how it’s changed since before the Iraq war.

It’s worth considering that the blog revolution is over and we’ve all just found a new Usenet board. And it’s worth bracing to consider that the product of blog triumphalism will be … more mainstream media pundits.

So, maybe not the best revolution ever.


The Joys of Little Green Footballs
There’s a discussion on Barbara Boxer on the enthusiatically pro-torture site. At 7:28, one poster notes that Barbara boxer refers to legislative matches as “battles” (which is pretty much the norm for copywriters of all stripes.) Says he:

Talk to Islamofascists, but battle Republican nominees. They’re plumb loco.

You see, the Democrats can’t be taken seriously, because they use harsher language talking about Republicans than they do about terrorists!

Then two minutes later on this same post:

#7 Sheepdogess 1/27/2005 07:30PM PST

She is the enemy. They are the enemy. The fight has just begun.

Jesus, where were these people before there was an internet?


Hypothetically speaking …
Opinionjournal’s “best of the web” jumped the shark many moons ago, but I still occasionally check it for pearls of wisdom like this:

Still, let’s say the worst happens and a combination of terrorism and boycotts succeeds in keeping all but a few Sunni Arabs away from the polls. Would that really make the election illegitimate? Before you answer, consider a thought experiment: Suppose that, when South Africa held its first postapartheid election in 1994, Afrikaner turnout had been depressed by similar measures. Would that have made the enfranchisement of a long-oppressed majority any less a cause for celebration?

Short answer: Fucking YES IT WOULD HAVE!

Long answer: Of all the fucked-up hypothetical scenarios one could use to shave some indignity off the Iraqi election, this takes the fucked-up cookie. The 1994 South African election was such a celebrated event because few people ever expected such an event to happen. By which I mean they didn’t expect a vote to happen. After the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre, the Afrikaner Nationalist government banned mainstream black political parties which naturally went underground and percolated up in the form of terrorist groups like Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation). Meanwhile, the Nationalists pursued an openly oppressive and murderous strategy of dealing with dissidents in the black majority. For a very long time, the expectation was that South Africa’s government would be toppled by an invasion or a civil war.

It wasn’t. It bore a lot more similiarities to the 1989-1991 Soviet breakdown than the Iraq situation. Taranto doesn’t know what he’s talking about comparing them.

But if you want to go so far to compare both elections – the 1994 South Africa election was free of black-on-white violence, and no whites were prohibited from voting. (An extra day of voting was allowed after reports of poll problems.) The only serious violence of the campaign came in the form of – yes – the Afrikaner Resistance Movement, which waged a sizable guerilla campaign in the hopes of derailing the election.

So, next time James Taranto proposes a hypothetical, why not visit one of the millions of other fine sites on the internet?

UPDATE: John Tabin IMed to ask me to clarify this. Well, put simply: If “a combination of terrorism and boycotts” disenfranchised whites in the 1994 South African election, it would indeed have made it “less a cause for celebration.” The incredible lack of bitterness on both sides, unimaginable until 1990 or 1991, was the cause for celebration. If whites had been terrorized, it would have been like an election in present-day Zimbabwe – which is assuredly not a cause for celebration.


Buy buy buy
I was all set to commence saving more of my new paycheck, and then I see that this came out today.

I’m going to see if I can wrangle it cheap, and you should, too. One of the best movies of the year, absurdly shut out of the documentary Oscars.


Out of the loop
Wow – I saw more than 40 new movies in 2004, and only one of them made it into the Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, and Original Screenplay categories. That movie was “Sideways,” which I do not think was overrated at all. In fact, Paul Giamatti was frigging robbed of a Best Actor nod. But hey, at least the forces of Sauron are pulling the rug out from under us early, instead of say, nominating Bill Murray and having him lose to Sean Penn’s insane performance in “Mystic River.” (“IS MY DAUGHTER IN THEEEEEERRRRRRGGGHH?”)

So here are the Best Pics, in declining order of preference.
1.”Sideways” – Fantastic movie, the best by a magisterial director (Alex Payne).
2.”The Aviator” – A wonderful topic choice for a biopic, and I adore Martin Scorcese. I would have seen this already if I hadn’t been focused on catching non-Oscar bait that was quicker to leave theatres.
3.”Ray” – Another good idea for a biopic – good enough that I’ll get around to seeing it eventually.
4.”Finding Neverland” – Meh.
5.”Million Dollar Baby” – I’m really souring on Clint Eastwood in my cantankerous old age. Didn’t like “Mystic River.” Don’t think I’d like this.

Predicted winner: “Million Dollar Baby.” My favorite movie won last year, kicking off the next four-year “let’s break Dave’s heart” Oscar cycle.

Here are the rest of my predictions, which were amusingly wrong in 2004.

Best Actor
Don Cheadle in “Hotel Rwanda”
Johnny Depp in “Finding Neverland”
Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Aviator”
Clint Eastwood in “Million Dollar Baby”
Jamie Foxx in “Ray”

If there’s one surer route to gold than playing a disabled person, it’s playing a disabled person in a biopic.

Best Supporting Actor
Alan Alda in “The Aviator”
Thomas Haden Church in “Sideways”
Jamie Foxx in “Collateral”
Morgan Freeman in “Million Dollar Baby”
Clive Owen in “Closer”

Unfortunately, brilliant comic performances are never respected like chair-tossing dramatic performances. Apparently, Clive Owen made his movie, despite being the only non-superstar in it and having originally played another character in the stage version.

Best Actress
Annette Bening in “Being Julia”
Catalina Sandino Moreno in “Maria Full of Grace”
Imelda Staunton in “Vera Drake”
Hilary Swank in “Million Dollar Baby”
Kate Winslet in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”

Going out on a limb here. For starters, Hilary Swank already won an Oscar (in another “race” against Annette Bening) for playing a red state tomboy who meets a tragic end. Only Jack Nicholson gets to win Oscars for playing the same character. Annette Bening’s role seemed pretty rote – she’s been playing the brave, makeup-less middle-aged woman for a damn while. So I think the Academy will pull a Binoche and choose an unheard-of actress who gave a much better performance in a generally-loved little movie.

Best Supporting Actress
Cate Blanchett in “The Aviator”
Laura Linney in “Kinsey”
Virginia Madsen in “Sideways”
Sophie Okonedo in “Hotel Rwanda”
Natalie Portman in “Closer”

Virginia Madsen was breathtakingly good in “Sideways,” but I fear this is one of those nominations that’ll lift her back out of obscurity and … that’s it. Cate Blanchett is one of the great actresses of our time who, in retrospect, deserved an award when last nominated in 1999. Plus, she’s playing Katherine Hepburn, and does so (I’m told) with scary accuracy.

I may weigh in on the other awards later. This is fun!


Fuck you
I hereby direct a hearty “sit and spin” to whoever designed the white lids on Starbucks coffee cups. For the second day running, my lid has managed to let some coffee leak out when the cup is turned. And today, I was wearing a white shirt.