Precious Cargo

Refreshingly Bitter And Twisted Observations On Life's Passing Parade.

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Location: Valley Village, California, United States

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Good News From Iraq

"A 1,500-member Iraqi police force with close ties to Shiite militia groups has emerged as a focus of investigations into suspected death squads working within the country's Interior Ministry.

Iraq's national highway patrol was established largely to stave off insurgent attacks on roadways. But U.S. military officials, interviewed over the last several days, say they suspect the patrol of being deeply involved in illegal detentions, torture and extrajudicial killings."

From today's New York Times:

"The American ambassador to Iraq issued an unusually strong warning on Monday about the need for Iraq's political factions to come together, hinting for the first time that the United States would not be willing to support crucial public institutions plagued by sectarian agendas.

'The United States is investing billions of dollars' in Iraq's police and army, said the ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad. 'We are not going to invest the resources of the American people to build forces run by people who are sectarian.'

Mr. Khalilzad spoke at a news conference on a day of fresh violence across Iraq. It was the bloodiest day in almost two months.

He was addressing allegations that Shiite death squads operate within the Interior Ministry. Such reports have grown in recent months, with accounts of hundreds of Sunni men being rounded up by men in police uniforms and found dead days or weeks later."

We have spent hundreds of billions of dollars only to create a Shiite theocracy in Iraq. That's incredibly ironic since we are currently elevating the islamic theocracy in Iran to be the world's biggest security threat because they seem intent on developing nuclear weapons.

We overthrew Saddam Hussein because he supposedly was seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

How long will it be before the islamic theocracy in Iraq decides to develop nuclear weapons?

We've gotten exactly the opposite result than the one we desired and vastly increased the threat to our security.

Why We Are Addicted To Oil

"By now, President Bush's wildly irresponsible remarks on energy in his state of the union speech may have already vanished down the memory hole, but the damage will linger on. 'America is addicted to oil,' Mr. Bush began, failing to mention that underlying this addiction was a living arrangement that required people to drive their cars incessantly. A clueless public will continue to believe that 'the best way to break this addiction is through technology
. . .' and that 'we must also change how we power our automobiles.'

Mr. Bush recommended ethanol. As one wag put it after the speech: 'America's heroin is oil, and ethanol will be our methadone.' The expectation will still be that everybody must drive incessantly."

So sayeth James Howard Kunstler. Lots of driving is elective, not required to keep one's job. Americans love driving, no matter how expensive and dangerous it may be. Only the poor use public transportation. Very few people even take the middle ground by carpooling.

Americans love to drive around in their cars, alone, because we want to isolate ourselves from others whenever possible.

The Coming Blog Implosion

"After talking to various people in the new media world, it’s possible to estimate an income of $1,000 to $2,000 a month in ad revenue from a typical blog getting 10,000 visitors a day and playing to a national audience with a popular topic such as politics.

The problem is that few blogs do even that much traffic. According to the monitoring done by, only two blogs get more than 1 million visitors a day and the numbers drop quickly after that: the 10th ranked blog for traffic gets around 120,000 visits; the 50th around 28,000; the 100th around 9,700; the 500th only 1,400 and the 1000th under 600. By contrast, the online edition of The New York Times had an average of 1.7 million visitors per weekday last November, according to the Nielsen ratings, and the physical paper a reach of 5 million people per weekday, according to Scarborough research.

And that, in the end, is the dismal fate of blogging: it renders the word even more evanescent than journalism; yoked, as bloggers are, to the unending cycle of news and the need to post four or five times a day, five days a week, 50 weeks of the year, blogging is the closest literary culture has come to instant obsolescence. No Modern Library edition of the great polemicists of the blogosphere to yellow on the shelf; nothing but a virtual tomb for a billion posts - a choric song of the word-weary bloggers, forlorn mariners forever posting on the slumberless seas of news."

I think blogs are another devil's playground for writers, much as the personal computer and the world wide web are. You can spend all day writing your blog, commenting on other blogs and reading them. It's a bottomless abyss that swallows you up.

You'll Never Get Rich Blogging

“The good news is that it’s still possible to create a top-ranked blog,” says Shirky. “The bad news is, the way to get into the top ten now seems to be public relations.” Just posting witty entries and hoping for traffic won’t do it. You have to actively seek out attention from the press. “That’s how they’re jump-starting the links structure. It’s not organic.” Indeed, when Huffington announced her venture and her celebrity guests, bloggers grumbled that it weirdly inverted the whole grassroots appeal of blogs. Larry David and Danielle Crittenden are hardly what you’d call outsiders to mass media.

When I call her, she is at her desk in her new company’s offices in Tribeca. She’s being backed by two angel investors—Carter Burden, head of the Webhosting company Logicworks, and Justin Smith, president of The Week, a news magazine. Their first blog, launching in March, will be called Dealbreaker, and devoted to Wall Street gossip. Her advertisers would be? “For Wall Street? Pretty much everybody,” she says. “It’s a high-income demographic, pretty attractive.” The start-up money lets her pay for a full-time blogging staff, which she’ll need since she wants her writers to actually do reporting and break news. And this, she argues, is the future of the professional blogosphere.

It’ll be more like the mainstream media, really,” she adds. “Blogging is increasingly becoming a survival of the fittest—and that all boils down to who has the best content. The blogs that are going to stand out are the ones who break news and have credibility.”

Blogging now goes the way of all things internet and personal computer. Nobody's going to start another Apple Computer in their garage.

Blogs were touted as the answer to the blocked arteries of the mainstream media, because there are no barriers to entry and the promise of infinite diversity of opinions. But very few people will maintain a blog for very long once they realize no one is reading it. And the most reliable way to get readers is to spend money to make potential readers aware of your existance.

The only new blogs that will break through the noise floor and command attention will be the online equivalent of a newspaper or magazine, with a staff of editors and writers, and backers with the capital to launch the pr campaign to bring attention and readers to that blog.

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